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In a quality program, caregivers should be reading to kids, talking with them, and setting up activities that promote learning -- from finger painting to block building to dramatic play. If you don't see these kinds of programs, then it's wise to look for another program. However, some centers are too academic for young children. Be wary of programs that emphasize school-readiness skills, worksheets, and phonics. The best predictor of literacy -- which affects success in all areas -- is the size of a child's vocabulary, and that will come naturally if he's in an environment where adults frequently chat and read with the kids. --Sally Lee
Copyright 2004. Reprinted with permission from the July 2004 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.