Picking a daycare is a difficult task. I still remember the day when I found out that I was pregnant with Amaryllis. I knew that I only had about 3 months with my little bundle of joy at home, so I started my search immediately. We knew the waitlist will be long, so we placed our names a year before she was supposed to enroll. After 11 months of waiting, we finally got the spot to our first choice. So a word of advice, start your search for a daycare early!
No matter the reason for you to place your little one in a daycare, just know that the benefits of daycare can be significant only if you pick the right one for your child. A great program not only supports the growth of your child, it also ensures the safety of your little one.
Here are some tips on what to look for in a daycare and how to choose a daycare that fits your needs.
Of course, if money is not an issue for you, you can skip this consideration. However, more likely than not, most working parents are on a budget, so this should be considered so that you don’t break your bank!
2. Proximity to home
Ideally the daycare should be close to home or to work so you can do drop-off and pickup on your way to work, or on your way back. If you work from home, this would be important too because you don’t want to spend too much time just commuting to daycare everyday.
3. The quality of teachers and the director of the facility
Ask about the education level of the teachers as well as the director of the daycare. They should have experience in early education. Check out the website for a biography of the director and ask to tour the facility so you can observe the staff as well.
Look for programs that are licensed. These facilities have standards to follow. During times like these, it is especially important to look for centers that follow COVID-19 protocols, and take pride in keeping the children safe.
5. Strong curriculum
Seek daycares that have national accreditations. Besides health and safety reviews, these national accreditation include curriculum evaluation. You should pick a daycare with established routines and curriculums which includes art, math and reading.
6. Teacher: student ratio
Ideally, this should be kept to the minimum, especially in the infant room. Babies and toddlers require a lot of attention. In order to provide high-quality care for children, the teacher should not be too overwhelmed with responsibilities.
7. Staff turnover
If there is a high turnover rate, consider this a red flag and look somewhere else. Children thrive in a stable and nurturing environment. Consistency is important for children to develop and decreases anxiety issues. A high turnover rate also implies that the teachers are underpaid, unhappy or there are problems with the center itself that would have a negative impact on your child.
8. Outdoor time
Spending outdoor time isn’t just good for kids. It is necessary. Research have shown that kids who play outside are happier, healthier and learn better. Outdoor play encourages active play which is the best exercise for kids. They learn to appreciate nature by digging through dirt and see how animals function in their natural habitat. By playing outside, they learn to take risks too which helps in building confidence.
9. Cleanliness of the center
I am stickler for cleanliness, especially when it comes to my baby. Babies crawl around the floor and they put everything in their mouths. If you’re sending your baby to a daycare, keep in mind that babies will be spending majority of their waking hours in the center, so daycares should always be clean and tidy. For infant rooms, there should be a shoe-free policy. If parents are entering, booties should be worn. As soon as your little ones are mobile, they would want to explore the entire classroom and the best way to keep germs and dirt away is to have a shoe-free policy.
In addition to these things to look out for, here’s a list of questions to ask when you finally make the trip to tour the daycare:
- What are your hours? Are there part time options?
- What is your center’s general philosophy?
- Are teachers first aid certified?
- What are your meal options? What is my child has an allergy?
- Do you allow breastmilk to be fed to infants? If so, how are they stored?
- How are new foods introduced to toddlers?
- Do infants sleep in cribs for naptime?
- Are toys and equipment sanitized in the classrooms?
- Do you have an open-door policy?
- Are children required to be immunized?
- Do you administer medication to children who are sick?
- Do you have a sibling discount?
- Are school fees paid on a weekly or monthly basis?
- Will daycare help with potty training?
- Is handwashing a regular part of the practice?
- What are the policies in place if there are instances of bullying or biting?
- What are your drop off and pick up policies? Are children only released to authorized personnel?
- What is the plan in place in case of disaster or emergencies?
I hope you find these tips on how to pick daycare useful. Good luck with your search!
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