How to Find a Good Daycare
Finding the best child care might feel like an overwhelming task. Your babies are probably the most important thing in the world to you, you have to find a child care option that gives you utmost confidence that your kids are in great hands. You want to find early child care programs that not only keeps your child safe, but gives them an enriching experience. If you work full time, you child is going to spend a lot of time with the child care provider you choose; you want them to learn and grow in that time.
To help you make the best choices for your child, we’ve put together a “choosing a daycare checklist.”
How to Find a Good Daycare
- Pay attention to the floor.
While you are touring daycares, pay close attention to the position that the staff takes in relation to the children. Ideally, the staff at the childcare center are sitting on the floor with the kids, interacting with them at their own level. The first few years of a child’s life, they need constant contact and interaction in order to achieve the foundation they need for adequate mental development. You want to see the staff at the child care facility you work with making it their mission to provide constant one-on-one interaction with the children. If the kids are put in a play area and the adults more or less stand over them and watch them, they may not providing the children with the closeness that they need.
While we’re on the subject, if a childcare center has too many children for each adult, they may not be able to offer each child the individual care they need. You should look for a childcare center that has a teacher-to-child ratio of three kids per adult until the age of 24 months, and then gradually increase as the children develop independence.
- Ask for a commitment.
It is unsettling to a child to get comfortable with a child care provider, only to be uprooted if the provider suddenly stops offering child care and have to start all over in a place, with new people. This can even harm the child’s development. We find this problem most commonly occur with at-home child care providers, who open their business because they’re stay at home parents, and then decide this isn’t the right avenue for them.
There are a lot of benefits to using an at-home child care provider. However, if you do take this option, you should pay attention to how long they’ve been in business (a provider who has been doing this for years and years is more likely to stick around than an at-home daycare provider who is just getting started) and ask for a commitment of at least one year. It might be beneficial to get it in writing.
- Make sure the day care’s policies align with your own parenting beliefs.
Your child will spend as much time with their child care provider as they spend with you. You should make sure that the provider follows the same practices that you do at home, or the disconnect will have a negative impact on the child. A few important considerations on this topic include:
- Discipline. When you have that many small children together, there are bound to disciplinary needs from time to time. Make sure that the method used to teach children how to behave (or how to not behave) aligns with your own.
- Feeding. How frequently do the children have meals or snacks? If they are hungry outside of designated snack times, are they fed? Does the daycare follow your dietary wishes (perhaps you prefer your child to eat organic or non-processed food)?
- Sleep times. Sleep is very important to a child’s development. Are naps part of the every day routine? Is the environment conducive to the child getting sleep?
- Drop by unannounced.
To make sure that the child care facility isn’t just showing you their best side to get your business, stop by at an unannounced time and ask to take a quick tour to make your final decision. Pay attention to the cleanliness of the facilities, the safety of the children, and the engagement of the employees, when they think no one is watching.
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