We can all agree that childcare is important, but what constitutes quality child care? According to Sanders and Howes (2006), it’s a winning combination of structural aspects and process features. Let’s break that down.
Structural indicators can be measured quantitatively, and relatively easy to control and adjust, such as a staff member’s previous experience or ratio numbers of how many of a necessity is available per child. To determine the quality of the child care, there must be a way to determine the caliber of structural indicators. Quantitative measurements are not always as easy to record as they seem. Each grade in school has rightfully different expectations of their students. Quantitative advances in a child’s development can be seen in many different ways each year. A teacher to student ratio of 1 to 15 is fantastic in high school, but not in preschool. Accordingly, there must be different standards and measurements to look at qualitative structural indicators. Although structural aspects contribute to the quality of the child care itself, they do nothing in regard to a child’s development, at least nothing direct that has been measured as of yet.
Process features, on the other hand, are connected to child development. Although qualitative features and sometimes seemingly subjective, they are very important. Process features deal with the student’s emotional well being, such as the counseling or academic accommodations available.
Quantity can be measured quantitatively, unlike quality, which is much harder to measure. Quality is also subjective, so the best measure of quality would be one from multiple perspectives. Sanders and Howes (2006), along with Howes (2010) and Sanders, Deihl, & Kyler (2007) say that one thing about child care quality is true cross culturally:
positive emotional climates and constructive engagement in learning for all children cannot be understated… Child care programs with deep connections to the community manifest those contexts and interpret child care practices with a prospective that is grounded in their shared history. (p.359)
This reinforces the idea that interactive learning experiences with the child are the best way to go. If the classroom environment and the teacher are encouraging and engaging, the student has a greater chance of believing in themselves, and therefore will actively pay attention, perform better in school and most likely enjoy staying in school for longer.