If you are a parent returning to work after parental leave, one of the most stressful decisions you will make is choosing a daycare center for your child. With many options available and the high cost of childcare, it can be challenging to know where to look.
Here are 5 tips to help you choose the best children daycare facility for you and your family:
#1 Consider Location
Begin by making a list of available childcare centers in your area. If you have a vehicle, you may be able to travel farther to get to your child care center than if you have to take public transportation. Some parents prefer finding a facility close to their place of work so they can make drop-offs and pickups on the way to and from work.
Most quality child care centers have a waiting list. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, be sure to put your name on the list for your top centers. Try to get on the list 1 year to 6 months before you need care — it sounds ridiculous, but spaces are hard to come by, and they fill up fast.
#2 Assess Their Philosophy of Care
Some daycare centers follow particular philosophies of care. Why choose Montessori School for your child, they will follow the ideas and structure of the Montessori school. This kind of care includes minimal classroom design, child-centered learning, individual attention and a range of ages in the classroom.
Some daycare centers offer a co-op style approach when parents take turns providing care for a group of children. Other centers focus on a curriculum or play-based learning. If a particular philosophy or type of care is important to you, be sure to seek out these types of centers.
If you have young children, and you want to make sure that your toddler is getting enough exercise, look for a daycare center with a pikler triangle.
#3 Ask Questions
When considering daycare centers. Be sure you call and ask a lot of questions. Some crucial questions are:
- What are your ground rules? Is there a set time for drop off or do they allow more flexibility?
- What is a daily routine look like?
- How do they handle toilet training, developmental issues, and conflict between children?
- What is their policy for sickness, and how is it applied?
- Do they allow parents to drop by at any time?
- What is your food plan, and how do they deal with allergies and special requests?
A well-run center should have clear policies in place and be open to parents dropping by. They should also be able to support the needs of your child and create a safe and secure environment. If you don’t like the answers to any of these questions, it is probably a sign you should keep looking.
#4 Go for a Tour
It is essential to visit your prospective daycare centers in person. They may have a good reputation and answer all the right questions, but it is just as important to have a good feeling about the place right when you walk in the door.
Most good daycare for junior preschool will encourage you to drop by and see them in action — be sure to call ahead to make sure your visit isn’t during nap time, so you don’t disturb the children!
Look around. Is the center clean and well maintained? Is the environment safe? Do they have a good outdoor play space and play equipment for the children?
Watch the teachers interacting with the children, is it a calm (or relatively calm environment), are there a variety of planned activities, toys and games offered to the children? Talk to the staff; do they create a positive environment? How do they handle difficulties between the children? Is there a high staff turnaround?
#5 Talk to Other Parents
Most parents are happy to give you an honest opinion about daycare centers. Be sure to talk to people you trust and share the same philosophical approach if that is important to you. You can also take a look at online reviews and comments, which can give you valuable information about other’s experiences in the daycare center.
The most crucial tip on choosing a daycare for your family is to trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. Be sure to do your research, ask questions, and take your time; you will find excellent care for your child.