The positive caregiver checklist blog header

The Positive Caregiver Checklist explained and how it can benefit your center

In a recent webinar, we welcomed Dr. Cara Goodwin, licensed psychologist and founder of Parenting Translator! Dr. Goodwin shared what the top factors are that make a high-quality childcare facility and how these factors can enhance cognitive, academic, and social functioning in young children. Through research-based practices, Dr. Goodwin teaches us how to create a space for optimal child development and create a “positive caring environment” in our classrooms. 

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar that inspired this blog post! 


Positive caregiving is one of the strongest and most consistent indicators of high-quality care. It is also something that can be changed to be implemented in a center relatively easily, with just training. It is a checklist that can be used to evaluate caregivers. Each educator is assessed individually.

Positive caregiving consists of the following elements: 

Showing a positive attitude 

  • Is the caregiver generally happy and encouraging in manner? 
  • Are they helpful and upbeat? 
  • Does the caregiver smile often at the child?

Positive physical contact 

This is any physical means to comfort a child when upset.

  • Does the caregiver hug the child, pat the child on the back, or hold the child’s hand? 
  • Does the caregiver comfort the child?

Responsiveness to the children

This is listening and responding appropriately to a child.

  • Does the caregiver repeat the child’s words, comment on what the child says or tries to say, or answer the child’s questions?

Talking to the children

Of all the positive caregiver aspects, researchers found this to be the most important element in development.

  • Does the caregiver encourage the child to talk by asking questions? 
  • Does the caregiver praise and encourage the child? 
  • Does the caregiver teach the child (encourage the child to learn or have the child repeat learning phrases)? 
  • Does the caregiver tell stories, narrate what they are doing, describe objects, or sing songs?

Encouraging development 

Knowing where the child is developmentally and helping them reach the next level.

  • Does the caregiver help the child to stand up and walk? 
  • Does the caregiver encourage tummy time activities with the child? 
  • For older children, does the caregiver help finish puzzles, stack blocks, or zip zippers?

Improving behavior

This involves reducing challenging behaviors while also improving social skills.

  • Does the caregiver encourage the child to smile, laugh, and play with other children? 
  • Does the caregiver support sharing between the child and other children? 
  • Does the caregiver give examples of appropriate behaviors?

Reading skills

  • Does the caregiver read books and stories to the child? 
  • Does the caregiver let the child touch the book and turn the page? 
  • Does the caregiver point to pictures and words on the page?

Positive vs. negative interactions 

  • Do they use more positive attention to promote behavior they want to see, over negative attention for negative behavior?
  • Does the caregiver make sure to be positive in the interactions with the child?

A positive caregiving environment means being warm, responsive, positive, and encouraging of children’s development and is linked to better outcomes in children.

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar that inspired this blog post!

Want to learn more about important topics in early education such as hiring and retaining educators? Sign up for the next webinar below, it is FREE! Even if you can’t join live, you will be emailed the recording and slides just for registering!

Cara Goodwin

Dr. Cara Goodwin, Ph.D., is the founder of Parenting Translator, a mother to three young children, and a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. in child clinical psychology.

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