It is difficult to know what to look for in a daycare provider, when it comes to your children. As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life.  Carefully choosing a high quality child care center is the first step.

Why Early Learning is Important

Kids need to socialize with other children from a very young age. It allows them to become familiar to social interaction, sharing and good manners. Not only will they learn how to act and behave around others, they will learn valuable reading and writing skills.

Statistics show that kids who don’t attend preschools and head straight into schools have a much harder time learning than the children who did attend preschools.

How Teachers Interact With Children

When choosing a preschool for your child, you need to note everything you see when you are taken around the preschools:

  • How the teachers and teachers look after children
  • How do they react to children
  • How do they treat children

Another important thing to watch out for is the way teachers greet children. Do the teachers come down to kids’ eye levels to address them and talk with them? You can usually tell if a teacher has a genuine love and passion for young toddlers when you first meet them.

You want to find a preschool that shows a love for kids and their development. Teachers should address kids in a grown up manner, but take time to acknowledge each child

Observe Your Surroundings

The most important job of a daycare center is to make sure your child is safe. Be sure to confirm that they are a licensed daycare before any consideration. When you visit the facility it should be clean and free of any safety hazards to your young child.

Note how you feel when you visit. Is it bright and pleasant or depressing and dull? Does it make you happy, do you hear sounds of laughter and fun, or silence? How you feel is important when determining what to look for in a daycare provider.

We invite you to schedule a tour with Premier Academy and see the difference a quality daycare center can make. We offer affordable childcare in the Omaha & Elkhorn area, visit us at 

The Importance of Choosing a Licensed Child Care ProgramWhen choosing a child care program for your child, the first question you need to ask is whether or not that child care center is licensed. While a license does not guarantee quality, it sets minimum requirements and ensures that a particular center is monitored for compliance. posted an article, Child Care Licensing and Regulations, that covers some of the requirements a licensed center needs to meet. These include:

  • The acceptable child-staff ratio and number of children allowed in a class
  • Supervision of children
  • Safety of the building
  • Immunizations, handwashing, diapering and other methods to stop the spread of disease
  • Nutrition
  • Training, health and other conditions for adults working at the center.

Children spend a great deal of time at their child care center. It is your job to make sure that the one you choose not only meets the needs of your child and your family but also is licensed. At Premier Academy, we offer the highest quality health care in the Omaha/Elkhorn area. To learn more, visit us at

Premier Academy believes that keeping your child safe is your number one priority when choosing a child care program. But it can be difficult when there are so many other considerations like price, location and hours. It is important to remember that the best child care program is one that works for you, your child and your entire family. And yes, it is possible to find one! It just takes a little research on your part.

Why All Child Care Programs, Like All Children Are UniqueQuality Checklist for Choosing Child Care

The American Academy of Pediatrics is dedicated to the health of all children. It also has a checklist that you can use as a guide when choosing a child care program for your son or daughter.

How to Choose the Best Facility for Your Family

Not every child care center is right for every child. And that is the way it should be. The key is to find the best program for your unique situation.

Daycare Warning Signs Parents Need to Know

While it can be difficult to get all you want out of child care program, there are some things you can never compromise on and some red flags you must never ignore.

If Premier Academy sounds like the place where you want your little one to learn and grow, please come tour one of our Learning Centers.

Premier Academy knows nothing is as important as keeping children safe. And while in a perfect world, no parent would have to worry about keeping their child safe in child care, the reality is, some child care centers are safer than others.

Thankfully, finding the highest-quality and safest child care center for your son or daughter is possible. The key is to do your research. Just as you would not choose a doctor for your child without doing some homework and asking for referrals, the same goes for any child care center you are considering.

Eight Questions to Ask When Choosing a Child Care ProgramUnfortunately, many parents aren’t exactly sure what to look for in a child care center. If you are enrolling your first or only child, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the choices and standards of care. What follows is a list of questions you should ask when to determine if a child care center will keep your child safe, healthy and happy.

  1. Is it licensed? Any child care program you are considering needs to be licensed by the state and those licenses should be displayed where all can see. Your next step is to call the licensing agency to see if the center is indeed licensed, has had any violations and when it will be re-inspected.
  2. How well is it child-proofed? Some of the most important items to look at are window blinds; cribs located away from windows and blinds; outlet covers; gates for any stairs; straps on changing tables and high chairs; clean and well-maintained toys; and medications and cleaning supplies that are well out of reach of children.
  3. Are staff trained in CPR and first aid? Staff members should be trained in pediatric CPR and first aid. Ask to see training certificates (which should be renewed every two years). Health considerations are a hallmark of quality child care centers. For example, are babies put to sleep on their backs at naptime?
  4. What is the caregiver-to-child ratio? Every state has its own requirements, but experts recommend that there should one caregiver for every four infants. There also should be one caregiver for every four toddlers from 18 months to 2 years; for every six toddlers from 2 to 3 years; and for every nine children older than 3.
  5. Is there a great deal of staff turnover? The higher the turnover, the less likely it will be that your child will be able to develop solid, trusting relationships. It also means caregivers may not be happy and happy caregivers mean happy children.
  6. How are children disciplined? Positive discipline techniques are critical. Yelling, belittling or physical punishments should never be tolerated. Discipline should always focus on positive redirection.
  7. Are child care center policies written down? Procedures for the dispensing of medications, discipline and when a child is too sick to attend child care should be provided to each family so everyone is on the same page.
  8. How clean is the center? It is easy to tell when you walk into a clean and well-organized child care center. Children in child care centers can be at a higher risk of infections so frequent handwashing and consistent and thorough cleaning practices are essential.

Finally, if a child care center you are considering does not have an open-door policy, you need to turn around and leave. You should always feel at welcome to visit your child and observe what is going one. You also should feel free to ask questions.

Children spend a great deal of time at a day care center. It is your job to make sure that the one you choose meets the needs of your child and your family. Do your due diligence so that when you leave your child at that child care center you know that he or she is happy, healthy and well-cared for.

If you would like to see how a quality daycare operates, please schedule a tour at one of our Child Enrichment Centers.

Infant Sign LanguageAre there benefits to teaching your child baby sign language? Although some studies point to increased intellectual development, the primary benefit of using baby sign language is decreased frustration for both you, your daycare provider, and your baby. Babies can use sign language to communicate their wants and needs long before they begin using words. Premier Academy daycare introduces infants to sign language around eight months old.

Children who can express themselves are more likely to feel happier and more confident. Infants who are taught signs have fewer episodes of crying or temper tantrums. Parents also report feeling more confident because they have a better understanding of how to respond to their babies.

Some parents and childcare teachers have expressed concern that teaching infant sign language may hinder verbal language development. Research has shown the opposite to be true. Studies find that children who have been taught sign language may be a step ahead of children whose parents only encouraged vocal communication. Learning sign language may make other types of communication easier for your child to learn.

Best of all, teaching sign language to babies is easy!

Infant Sign Language Tips

  • Start small. Do some research on sign language books or websites to learn the basics. Your child’squality childcare center will be able to provide you with more information about the best signs to start with. Choose signs for words that will be used frequently by your baby, such as please, more, ball, or drink. To start, only teach your child three to five words.
  • Use signs during normal everyday routines and activities. Saying the word as you make the sign will help your baby learn sign language. For example, if your baby reaches for more food, say “more” while making the sign with your hands. Then give your baby their food as reinforcement. Consistently make this sign every time your baby asks for more food. Be sure to give lots of encouragement when your baby makes a sign independently. Say, “You did it! You told me you want more!”
  • Allow your baby to set the pace and progress slowly. As your baby masters initial signs, you can add a few more. Remember, though, your goal isn’t to make your child fluent in sign language so much as providing another way to communicate until verbal skills develop. Stick with basic signs for words that your child uses every day and introduce only a couple at a time. Premier Academy daycare is dedicated to being the best childcare for facilitating amazing communication skills, and social and emotional growth for your infant.
  • Keep it fun. Be sure to keep lessons brief and fun. The point of teaching sign language is to reduce frustration, simplify communication, and connect with your baby in a meaningful way.

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Teaching Your Children About FriendshipSome children are born social butterflies, intuitively understanding the art of making and keeping friends. Other children need a bit more support. Many children are naturally quiet or reserved and may not know how to start a conversation. Others need help in reading social cues, sharing toys, or taking conversational turns.

No matter where children fit on this social spectrum, they can benefit from the nurturing guidance and example of amazing teachers at a quality childcare like Premier Academy. Modeling how to be a friend is one of the most powerful lessons you can teach about friendship. Strike up conversations at the park with other parents. Be friendly and considerate to neighbors, teachers at your child’s daycare, and people in the community. Talk with your child about how to get someone’s attention, ask questions, and introduce himself. All these steps pave the way for later social interactions.

Once your child has learned some basic social conventions, it’s time to schedule playdates to help with social development. Invite just one child at first, which is less overwhelming for everyone and take an active role in the playdates. As your child gains experience, playdates will become more independent, with less direction from you.

Tips for Teaching Friendship with Playdates

  • Focus on interests and commonalities. Sure, learning to relate with diverse people is a valuable life skill, but for your child’s early friendships, seek out children with similar temperaments and interests. Conversation will flow more freely and your child will gain confidence and create friendships more quickly. Sports practice, classes or clubs are natural settings for children to meet potential friends with similar interests.
  • Schedule a playdate. Ideally, you’ll have opportunities to meet other parents before you schedule a playdate, but if not, invite the parents over for a brief get-together. When both children and parents seem ready, you can schedule a playdate without the parents. Keep playdates brief – two or three hours is plenty for young children. A great way to meet parents is at your kiddo’s childcare center!
  • Have structured playdates. In a perfect world, playdates would always run smoothly, with children happily exploring and creating together. The reality is often something different. What if your child refuses to share or play with the other child? Or worse, the children have such a good time that your house is in shambles? Plan playdate activities, such as play dough or puzzles, as ice breakers. Be sure to set some ground rules so everyone knows what to expect. Be prepared to kindly, but firmly, redirect behavior that’s run off course. Don’t hover, but stay nearby and intervene if things aren’t going well. Often, simply offering another activity is all that’s needed: “It’s not safe to jump on the bed. Let’s go outside and do sidewalk chalk.”
  • Use playdates to build social skills. When it comes to social skills, young children are eager, if imperfect, learners. Subtly observing your child during a playdate can help you understand her social strengths – and weaknesses. After a playdate, make a few gentle comments to nudge learning. Point out positive behaviors, such as, ‘I noticed that you let Layla swing first on the swing. That was really thoughtful of you!” These comments help children identify how to be a good friend and increase the chances of those behaviors being repeated. You can also help your child learn new behaviors. “It was hard to share your new truck, wasn’t it? How do you think Julian felt when you yelled at him? Next time, let’s put special toys away and get out only the toys you know you can share.”

From the playground to media, children are exposed to widely varying depictions of social interactions – some of them positive and some of them less desired. Playdates put parents back in the driver’s seat, allowing you to model and foster respectful communication, gracious manners, and supportive friendships. At Premier Academy it’s our goal to provide the best childcare to foster amazing friendships between kids and parents!

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The Importance of Reading to Young ChildrenReading to infants contributes to the development of their growing brains and gives them a good start towards a lifelong love of reading and good literature. When you read to babies, it can also help speech development as they are taking in information and beginning to learn about speech patterns. In addition, synapses connect between your infant’s neurons as you read aloud, positively affecting child development in many areas.  Choosing a childcare that understands the importance of reading can set your child on the path to healthy development.

Infants tune in to the rhythm and cadence of our voices, especially the familiar voices of their parents and caregivers at your childcare. While initially the rhythmic phrase, “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?”, for example, may not hold meaning, your baby is taking in the sounds of language and how they fit together. As babies see a picture of a red bird in the book and you name the bird, they begin to make the connection between what you say and the picture of the red bird. The more you read that book, the stronger the connection. The repetitive storyline makes the book fun, engaging, and easier to remember. Reading to babies is not only a way to inspire a love of books from infancy, but also an important way to grow a baby’s vocabulary – first his understanding vocabulary and later her speaking vocabulary.

Best Way to Read to Your Baby

Of course reading aloud to an infant is different than reading aloud to a preschooler. With a baby, you may not get through the whole book. Your baby may want to hold the book and chew on it or try turning pages. All of these actions are appropriate and help your child become familiar with books and how to handle them.

  • Make reading together a close cuddly time. Reading before bed may be the perfect time to hold your baby on your lap and cuddle together while you read.
  • Don’t worry about reading a book start to finish. It is great if you can, but if your child wants to stop and hold or chew on the book, that is okay. That is another way infants take in information about their world.
  • Point out and name pictures. Later ask your baby to find the “cow”, “horse”, etc., when you point to it.
  • Increase the length and complexity of books as your child shows interest. By about one year of age, some babies will enjoy hearing a short book with a storyline.

How to Choose Books for Babies

Books for babies should be easy for them to hold and manipulate. Books in heavy cardboard (board books), cloth, plastic or even wood are popular and hold up to a baby’s use. If you have questions about age appropriate books, ask us at Premier Academy childcare for suggestions! Some recent favorites from the Growing Readers Books of Excellence and Notables include:

  • Everyone Eats by Julio Kuo
  • In the Garden by Elizabeth Spurr
  • Little Mouse by Alison Murray
  • Whose Toes are Those? by Sally Symes
  • I Can Do It Myself by Stephen Krensky

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Maintaining a Balance Between Work and FamilyWork-life balance has long been considered a strict separation between work and personal life, but the lines between the two have gradually become blurred, attributable to the technology advancements which allow people to be constantly connected and businesses to be active and accessible at all times without boundaries. With the capabilities of modern technology, work-life integration, a concept in which work and life are intertwined, is emerging and is perceived to be the future of the working world. The new reality is that many fields allow employees to work remotely at least one day of the work week. This, coupled with an ever increasing global workplace, has brought change to the traditional nine to five work day.

How can you make integration work for your family? Read these work-life tips for ideas on work-life integration, whether you’re in need of childcare for the first time, returning to work after having a baby, or trying to improve upon your existing routine.

How to Integrate Work and Family Time:

Create a master schedule. With knowledge of your employer’s expectations and regulations, map out a plan that reflects home and work responsibilities, and includes your typical work schedule as well as your family priorities. Periodically evaluate how your plan is meeting your goals as a working parent and make changes as necessary.

Review and adjust. Pick a time each week to look in-depth at the upcoming week or two. Do you have a late meeting on Wednesday? Does your child have a special event at their childcare Friday morning? What do you need to put in place to make this work for family? By planning in advance, you avoid being surprised by overlapping commitments.

Evaluate where boundaries make sense. Consider drawing a distinction between work and family when needed, especially if you work from home. Depending on your company guidelines, these may, however, be set differently than the typical work block followed by a block of family time. Perhaps you have a client in a different time zone with whom you need to collaborate in the early evening. What do you need to have planned to give you uninterrupted time to focus without distraction? When attending your childcare celebration, what do you need to put in place to participate without concurrently answering emails from the office?

Be present. Multi-tasking is not the answer to integration and neither is switching quickly from one task to another. As a busy parent balancing work and family, the goal is to be fully present in the moment for each aspect of your life. Be sure you have a plan so that your children are actively engaged and supervised when you are working at home. Together with your family, set a signal that lets everyone in the house know when you are not to be interrupted.

On the flip side, set a regular routine to implement when you switch to family activities. Perhaps you pack up your computer and put it out of your sight, change into different clothes, or even verbally recite “I’m stopping work now” as you swap focus.

Take control of technology. Set no tech/phone zones that are appropriate for your family. Turn off alerts to minimize distractions during your designated family time. Technology can be irresistible, but work as a family to stick to the guidelines you set and try to avoid the just one more mindset. The temptation to tune-in looms large. Stick to the plan and guidelines you set as a family.

Strike a Balance Between Work and Family

For many, work schedules are fixed and flexibility is not an option. But no matter what job you hold, the practice of looking at your overall schedule, planning in advance, setting guidelines, and making a conscious mental shift from work to home, or home to work, can free your mind to focus more fully on each arena in your life.

Lastly, don’t forget to make time for yourself in your schedule as well.

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Handling Classroom TransitionsAs young children transition to the next classroom at Premier Academy there can be some anxiety for both the child and the parents. Separation anxiety is a normal reaction. Leaving the familiar faces of teachers and entering into a new environment can be difficult for anyone.

Sometimes the pain of separation seems to hurt us more than our children. Most children quickly adapt to a new classroom, especially if it is in the same quality daycare with familiar friends.

Here are some tips to help transitions and separations:

  • Know your child, and realize that each child’s response is different.
    We all want our children to take to their quality childcare caregivers with eager enthusiasm, but children’s responses to transition and separation depend upon their age, temperament, and experience.
  • Be positive.
    Our children have amazing intuitive skills. They sense our anxiety and hesitation. As the first day for transition draws near, begin talking to your child about what to expect and about any concerns or fears they might have. Present Premier Academyas a place where he’ll learn new things and make friends.
  • Establish a drop-off ritual.
    Developing a quick, simple way to say “good-bye” and reassuring our children that we will return will help separation go more smoothly. Sneaking out creates a sense of mistrust.
  • Tune-in to your child’s behavior.
    During times of change, our children may have behavior regressions, delayed reactions or even outbursts at pick-up time. It’s all normal. We can reassure them with positive comments, physical affection, and love.
  • Make a connection between home and school.
    Little things from home may make our children feel more comfortable: a blanket, a stuffed animal, or for infants, a scarf with mommy’s smell. Photographs also help. Try laminating a favorite picture or compile a little photo album.
  • Contact Premier Academy to see how the day is going.
    If our children are upset when we leave them, we can feel uneasy or guilty. Just knowing they are okay can help us settle down and have a good day.

Adapting to transition and overcoming separation anxiety may take time for some of us, both young and old. Transition times are learning times for our children and parents. Remember that becoming comfortable in a new classroom is an ongoing process, not just a single event. We are committed to being the best daycare and making sure all of our children and parents feel comfortable during drop-off and pick-up. Your children learn through consistent experience that each goodbye, as hard as it may be, is followed by your happy return.

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Toilet Training in Child CareWe face many challenges as parents, but toilet learning may feel like one of the more daunting ones. And now that your child seems old enough to begin toilet learning, you also wonder how toilet learning works in child care. Relax. Like every other aspect of child care, you and your child’s teacher will work as partners in the process of toilet learning. Toilet learning while in a child care or daycare setting may be easier than it is at home. At daycare, your toddler sees other children visiting the bathroom, which can create a powerful incentive and example. Teachers are usually very experienced in toilet learning and can offer you a lot of support. Many schools have toddler-sized toilets and sinks, which can make the process much less intimidating. Ask for the teacher’s insights, and try not to compare your child to other children in the center. Soon, your days of changing diapers will be over and your toddler will seem oh-so grown up.

Tips for Toilet Learning at Daycare or Child Care

  • Get on the same page. Talk with your child’s teachers about the approach they use. They can help you watch for signs of readiness.   These signs may include staying dry for lengths of time, expressing an interest in using the toilet, and being able to pull clothes up and down. You and your child’s teachers will work together to develop a plan for toilet learning. Share your own philosophy and any concerns you have. Mutually agree on how you’ll handle toilet learning and make sure that you consistently follow the plan during the evenings and weekends.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. An essential part of Premier Academy’s toddler care toilet training plan involves clear communication with our parents! We want to let you know what is working for us and we welcome any suggestions from you about what works best for your child. Let your child’s teacher know when your child last went potty when you drop off in the morning. Ask for the same information when you pick your child up at the end of the day, and read the Daily Experience Sheet for detailed information. Find out about the times your child uses the bathroom at school and try to duplicate this schedule at home.
  • Come prepared. Accidents are bound to happen during the first few weeks of toilet learning, so make sure your toddler is prepared to cope with potty accidents. Be sure to send your child to daycare with plenty of clean clothes. Skip the onesies, blue jeans, or overalls, and opt for soft, loose pants with an elastic waistband. These clothes help your child be more independent, and they also simplify the inevitable changes. Send your child in shoes that come off easily and don’t forget extra socks.
  • Expect setbacks. Toilet learning is a major developmental milestone in toddler care and it’s very common for children to make progress and then regress. Try not to get discouraged or express frustration to your toddler. Make sure that your child is really ready before you start toilet learning. The age of readiness varies from child to child, but most kids are ready to toilet learn between 20 and 30 months. Take it slow and use a relaxed, positive approach. Talk with your child’s teacher if you have questions or just need some extra support.
  • Push the fruits and veggies. What does nutrition have to do with toilet learning? Constipation is a common problem when children don’t eat enough fiber. Children sometimes develop a fear of toileting if they’ve experienced painful stools. Eating fruits and vegetables helps keep their digestive system regulated.
  • Accommodate special needs. A child with developmental or physical delays may need extra support to toilet learn. Talk with your child’s teacher about ways to help, which might include delaying toilet learning, using a visual chart, or practicing the steps of pulling down pants or washing hands prior to starting toilet learning.

As you go through the toilet learning process, try to keep perspective. Some children are very motivated and learn to use the toilet quickly. Others need more time before they completely master this developmental task. Remember that both you and your child are doing the best you can. Before long, your child will be diaper-free and ready for the next adventure.

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