Tip of the Week
Choosing the Best Daycare for Your Child
With so many daycares to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you and your little ones? Selecting a daycare can seem like a daunting task. It is important that you choose a place where you’ll feel comfortable leaving your child.
Daycares can vary widely in terms of professionalism and quality, so it is important that you research each place you are considering. Making on-site visits will tell you plenty about the quality of the facility. Schedule an appointment with the director so you can ask questions. Have your children accompany you on this trip so you can see how they will react to this environment. Observe your child and gauge his or her comfort level.
Here are other factors to consider when choosing a daycare.
- The quality of a daycare rests on its employees. The staff must be reliable and responsible. Request information on background checks of the staff.
- Ask about the ratio of caregivers to children. Adults cannot do their jobs effectively if they have to care for 30 children at once with no extra assistance.
- Good hygiene habits are a must. Sickness is easily spread among children and adults at a daycare. What types of hygiene and protocol do they have and use when dealing with germs or sick children?
- Observe how the employees interact with children. They should communicate well and like kids.
- The best daycare employees do not play favorites. They spend equal time with everyone and make every child feel important.
- The facility should be in a safe and inviting environment. It should have bright colors and fun decor.
- The lighting needs to be adequate. Inspect the bathrooms, dining areas and nap rooms. Everything should be decorated with children in mind.
- Look outside at the play areas. Are they well-maintained? Is there plenty of room for children to run around? Is the play equipment safe?
- Every area should be designed with safety in mind. Look for locks on doors, sharp edges and dangerous objects that might be in a child’s reach.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
- No child should be bored at a daycare. High-quality daycares offer activities to keep your child preoccupied throughout the day. Make sure they don’t only offer fun activities – it should be a learning center as well. A center that incorporates fun into learning is the best type of daycare.
Ask the director what kinds of activities are available for children. It should be a mixture of free play and structured activities. Crafts, music, stories and age-appropriate lessons will help your child grow.
- Discipline is important, but so is how discipline is met. Ask the daycare how they deal with specific discipline issues. What are the consequences for undesirable behavior?
Also, if your child has difficulties with sharing, talk to them about how they might handle it. They should give you thoughtful answers. Ask for a copy of the daycare’s rules.
- The daycare should have a stringent sickness policy. It will protect your child from catching viruses frequently. You don’t want to pay for a month of daycare only to have the child stay home because of illness.
- The daycare should ask for a copy of the child’s vaccination records.
- Throughout your visit, look to see if your child seems genuinely interested and comfortable. How does your child interact with the other children? If your child is shy, see how the teachers get timid kids to engage with others.
- Observe how your child interacts with the teachers. How do they address your child during the visit? Does the daycare have toys and activities that interest your child?
- If your child is of speaking age, you can ask directly for an opinion of the daycare.
Selecting a daycare is an important decision. Look at each option thoroughly before making a final decision. Follow your gut instinct. If you feel something is wrong at a particular facility, don’t be afraid of crossing them off your list. You can find another daycare that is more comfortable for you and your child.
With a bit of close observation and intuition, you should have no trouble finding a suitable daycare for your child.