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Named for the nearby small liberal arts college North Park University, the North Park area is a picturesque neighborhood with quaint homes, lush parks, and several student campuses. Its old-world Swedish appeal blends well with a modern mix of generations and cultures.
Over the years, North Park has become the go-to neighborhood in Chicago for discerning families, and with good reason. Aside from the urban-suburban feel, it’s dotted with green spaces, forests, fantastic trails, and many other natural areas, including North Park Village Nature Center, Bohemian National Cemetery, and LaBagh Woods.
This serene and somewhat little-known neighborhood is easily one of the best places to live, play, and bring up a family in Chicago. There are numerous highly-rated North Park daycare centers for parents to choose from. Consider this your insider’s guide to everything you need to before picking the right North Park daycare for your child.
How Does Daycare Work?
Sending a child to daycare is one of the most challenging decisions parents make. In the simplest terms, a daycare is a place where parents drop off their children to be looked after by caregivers and teachers. This arrangement makes it possible for parents to find time to work, run their businesses, travel, or take care of everyday chores.
The interactive daycare environment allows your kids to develop a variety of important skills in a group setting. By interacting with adult staff and peers, children can improve their conflict resolution, problem-solving, pre-academic, behavioral, and social skills.
Daycare centers offer much more than babysitting and other basic child care duties like feeding, changing diapers, calming crying babies, sleeping, and napping. Teachers and directors work to create programs that can help stimulate your child intellectually. They use age-appropriate tools and techniques like storytelling, singing, playtime, and toys to promote your child’s social, emotional, and physical growth and development.
Not all North Park daycares are created equal. Some fit into the category of group daycare centers, which are traditional, non-residential child-care facilities where you can drop off your tot for half-day or full-day. Some group daycare facilities may also offer hour-by-hour, weekend, and night child-care services. All North Park daycare centers are required to be both state- and City-licensed.
Group daycare centers typically have a staff of licensed caregivers and teachers trained in early childhood education. What’s more, a daycare center often takes in many children, up to 10 children age four years per caregiver—though much fewer per caregiver the younger the children. For this reason, kids often get more interaction and valuable socialization with their peers.
Family daycare, or called in-home daycare, is another common type of child-care in North Park. Unlike conventional daycare centers, the child-care provider takes care of the kids in their own homes, usually with the help of an assistant. These in-home daycares also must follow state law and their child-caregiver ratio also depends on age but can be as few as three or up to eight children per caregiver. So, you will be dropping off your little one into a more comfortable, intimate, and familiar home environment.
Nanny and au pair child-care services also abound in North Park. An au pair is a great daycare option for families who don’t mind having the child-caregiver living in their homes. If you have a spare bedroom and want someone who will do house chores and take care of your baby many hours per day or overnight, an au pair can be your best bet. Most au pairs are foreign women who work through agencies and often receive a salary on top of room and board.
A day-time nanny is an ideal option for families who prefer dedicated, at-home daycare for their young ones but also want more privacy. A nanny is basically a babysitter who may or may not be trained in early childhood. This might be the best solution if you want someone to take your older toddler around to playdates, playgrounds, and so forth.
To recap, daycare is an in-home or group facility where you can send your baby, infant, or toddler to get cared for by professionals. Parents usually pay a weekly fee for their children to receive a variety of child-care services, including feeding, napping, grooming, learning, and much more. The best North Park daycares also provide kids with a warm, safe, and supportive environment that stimulates and promotes healthy development.
How Does a Daycare Affect My Child’s Development?
Parents understandably have several questions about daycare, and most of them often wonder if it’ll have any impact on their little one’s development. Good news: extensive research done in the last two decades or so has found that quality daycare can be incredibly beneficial for most kids.
While scientists and pediatric experts generally agree that the most important influence on a kid’s early development and behavior is their home environment, whether they are at home with a parent or in full-time daycares, a recent study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development seems to suggest that kids who attended daycare for over 30 hours per week tend to have better memory development, problem-solving skills, and language.
However, that isn’t all; daycare affects your baby’s development in many ways.
Through peer interaction — Most parents cringe when anyone mentions “peer pressure” since we have come to associate this term with negative effects. During early childhood, though, peer influence can be a good thing, as toddlers, babies, and infants tend to learn many things from interacting with their peers or slightly older children.
If you happen to arrange playdates for your little one, you’ve probably noticed that they learn much more from one another than from adults. You can show your baby or toddler something multiple times and go nowhere. However, you’d be surprised at how quickly and easily they will get it as soon as they watch another kid do it.
It’s a steep learning curve for a toddler, and there are some things they won’t simply learn without experiencing them firsthand or seeing other children do them. This positive peer influence on your child’s development can be effectively achieved when they spend quality time with other children in a safe, warm, and supportive environment. And that’s where a high-quality North Park daycare can be especially handy.
A good daycare center provides your kid with ample opportunity to interact with and learn from their peers in a supervised and structured setting. As such, your little one will learn how to play, solve problems, share, and interact with others.
Having some structure is important for growing minds — Daycare facilities often map out every detail for the day or week, from naps to playtime to feeding, and it’s no secret that young kids thrive on such structure. It helps your tot to thrive when they are in a structured social and learning setting. Once your child gets used to the routine, he or she will start learning how to parallel play and then interact with others and in groups.
Positive non-family adult interaction — Children learn a great deal about adults at a tender age mostly from those around them in the household. These may include their mom, dad, and older members of the family. However, it’s prudent for your kid to get another perspective on adults. That’s exactly what daycares provide; they allow your child to view other adults (read: teachers, caregivers, etc.) as carers and mentors with the ability to provide love and helpful guidance.
Most North Park daycare providers are trained to offer encouragement, respond to kids’ vocalizations, discourage bad peer influence, and exude a positive vibe.
Is North Park a Good Neighborhood for My Child?
With a population of under 18,000, North Park stands out as one of the most serene, quiet, and family-friendly neighborhoods in Chicago. Together with its adjacent neighborhood of Hollywood Park, it offers a suburban, quiet way of life within city limits.
In the area, you’ll find a lot of green spaces, nature preserves, parks, and an array of other child-friendly amenities. There’s also a boatload of shopping, arts, and entertainment hubs, including quaint coffee shops, Swedish restaurants, and public parks. With a well-documented history of welcoming immigrants to the area and thanks to its home to North Park University, the neighborhood is a cornucopia of cultures, making it a great place to raise a tolerant, well-rounded child.
With the North Park Village Nature Center, Bohemian National Cemetery, and Gompers Park in the neighborhood, North Park families have plenty of fun outdoor things for their children to enjoy. And the neighborhood has a reputation for a low crime rate, miles of sidewalks, and dog-friendly amenities. North Park is so safe you’d walk alone at night.
Walking distance to restaurants, parks, and playgrounds provides families with an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and outdoors every chance they can. Talking of child care, the area is home to a raft of home-based and traditional daycares, plus you can easily access nanny and au pair services.
How Can I Pick a Great Daycare in North Park?
Whether you’re opting for in-home care, family daycare, or formal daycare centers, there are some important factors you need to keep in mind. Here’s how to score the best North Park daycare for your little loved one.
– Tap your network for recommendations
Experts recommend that you look for a licensed and reputable daycare that meets the highest possible standard of quality, safety, and care. It should also be built around nurturing and promoting your child’s development. But finding such a high-quality daycare center is easier said than done.
For this reason, the best way to find the best North Park daycare is to tap into your network of like-minded moms, family, friends, and coworkers. Take full advantage of word of mouth, and ask them for their favorite suggestions. Don’t stop there; you can also ask your OB-GYN, pediatrician, doctor, or provider.
– Don’t underestimate the power of reviews
While word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends and other moms are an essential part of daycare hunting, you also need to check out their reviews. Every high-quality daycare will certainly boast a rock-solid reputation that includes raving reviews from existing or previous clients.
This doesn’t necessarily imply only the reviews you will find online. While you definitely want to read internet reviews, don’t forget to request that the center give you a few contacts you can get in touch with for references. Also, check with your network of parents, family, and friends to determine which North Park daycare they think is the best.
As you drill down the reviews, make sure to note any good or bad trends, patterns, and complaints. Obviously, no daycare is perfect; however, if the same kind of complaint is being reported by current or past parents, then something is wrong with the facility.
Remember, social media can also be a powerful tool in your search. After all, most daycare centers and providers do have Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and even Instagram accounts. Pay attention to what they post, whether they are photos, videos, or just interactive comments. What are parents posting on their social media accounts? It’s a good sign of a responsible and trustworthy daycare when parents are active and engaged.
– Which type of daycare is best for your situation?
There are three options that you have to consider when choosing the right daycare in North Park for your child: au pairs, daycare centers, or family daycare. Here are some advantages and downsides of each option to help you narrow down your search.
a) Au pairs: Au pairs are the Mary Poppins of the daycare world. They are live-in nannies who offer full-time daycare in exchange for board, room, and a small wage. This is an ideal solution if you are willing to share your living space with the caregiver, and of course, you must have a spare bedroom and hopefully bathroom.
You can think of an au pair as a full-time, more affordable alternative to a nanny. By the same token, if you value your privacy and don’t mind spending extra on child-care, then a nanny would be a more suitable option.
b) Family daycare: In a family daycare, your child and others are cared for in a family-like environment. It’s usually a situation where a licensed child-care provider looks after kids in her own home, often with the aid of an assistant or another trained caregiver. For toddlers, infants, and babies, an in-home daycare can provide an ideal blend of a warm and familiar family setting with the bonus of other kids.
c) Daycare centers: If you’re able to snag a high-quality daycare center with highly-trained staff, your little one will most likely develop excellent socialization skills and an early taste for learning. But you should be ready to pay top dollar unless the daycare is linked to your workplace or subsidized. That’s because states like Illinois require such a low caregiver-to-infant ratio that fees charged by daycare centers can be double the fee charged for older children.
– Make sure you click
Does the daycare center welcome ideas and recommendations from parents? Check out the center’s policies and core values, so you can ensure you are on the same page. The best daycares in North Park communicate frequently and often hold meetings where parents can air their issues and contribute to the center.
– Be open to change
You aren’t tied permanently to a specific caregiver or daycare center. If things don’t seem to work out, sever the ties and switch to a daycare you think is more suitable for your child and situation. It’s true, you want predictability and consistency for your child, but that doesn’t imply that you can’t change the center.
What Do Daycare Teachers Do?
Daycare teachers have a wide-ranging duty profile. They usually leverage a kid’s innate affinity with play to integrate learning opportunities. In particular, they create lesson plans and implement daycare activities that educate, engage, and stimulate the child intellectually.
As well as teaching, daycare teachers often offer a variety of basic child care needs, such as taking care of behavioral problems, feeding the children, ensuring proper nutrition, and so forth. They speak routinely with parents and provide them with a rundown of their children’s progress.
How Long Can My Child Spend in Daycare?
Most parents and childcare experts have noted daycare benefits in infants as young as a year old. The length of time a child should stay in daycare will depend primarily on her age. If she’s 2 years old, for instance, going three times for around 5 hours would be beneficial.
However, many agree that 3 is the perfect age to start taking your child to daycare. But how long should your child spend in daycare? Findings from a recent study conducted by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development revealed that 36 hours of daycare per week seems to be the sweet spot. The trick is to find a high-quality North Park daycare.
How Expensive Is Daycare?
The cost of daycare and child-care, in general, has gone up dramatically in the past seven or so years. Today, a parent will have to shell out an average of $1,230 to a daycare center per month. The average monthly rate in a family daycare is roughly $800.
Do Daycare Providers Need to Be Licensed?
Not all states require daycare providers to be licensed. However, Illinois is one of the states that has made it mandatory for them to not only acquire daycare licensing but also seek training in early childhood education. In addition to the state-issued license, North Park daycare centers must also be licensed by the City of Chicago.