Choosing warm, nurturing, capable care for your child is high on every parent’s list. You want a place staffed with experienced caregivers who are kind, loving, and genuinely interested in the well-being and development of your child. The best way to find a day care that’s ideal for your family is to do your research, ask your friends, and visit your top choices with a list of your criteria in hand.
Here are some helpful questions to ask as you compare your options:
What is their approach to learning? Different centres focus on different learning methods, from play-based approaches to more structured models. At Childventures, we use a combination of Montessori, High Scope and Core Knowledge to create a balanced educational program that facilitates early learning and brain development. Children are introduced to numbers, science, French, music, computers, fine motor development, self-care skills and more. Teachers take on the role of the facilitator and encourage children to take the lead in their own learning, expertly guiding your child as they learn to understand the world.
Are the staff qualified? Do caregivers have Early Childhood Education certification? How much experience do they have? Are they trained in CPR? What is the caregiver-to-child ratio?
Does the place feel warm and welcoming? Is it clean and comfortable? Are caregivers patient and friendly, with a sense of humour and a genuine love for children – and for their jobs? Do you feel comfortable there?
Can I observe or visit my child whenever I like? A positive environment is one where parents are encouraged to be involved. Can you volunteer in the classroom? Join your child at lunchtime? Can you stop by any time or only during specific periods? Different centres pace different emphasis on parental involvement. If you want to be part of things, make sure it will be welcomed.
Is the facility well-equipped? Do they have suitable toys and learning materials on hand in the classroom? Materials for fine-motor play such as Lego, threading and beadwork? Items for gross-motor play like riding toys and slides? What are their outdoor facilities like? Is there a safe, appealing place for children to run around outside? Do they have a designated nap area?
How structured is a typical day? Children love routine, but having enough flexibility to accommodate different personalities is also good. Does the centre provide plenty of time for free play? Small group activities?
What is the discipline policy? Do they use time-outs or other methods? Do they work with parents to solve behavioural problems? Will they tell you if your child has had a rough day? How do they work out disagreements between children? Centres take a variety of approaches to discipline, so you’ll need to find one that meshes with the way you do things at home, and suits your child’s personality.
What types of meals and snacks do they serve? Every parent has a different idea of what makes up a nutritious, suitable meal. Do they offer occasional treats or junk food? How is the food prepared? Can they accommodate children with food allergies? Are the meals catered or cooked by an on-site chef?
What are the hours like? Do they have policies for early drop-offs and late pick-ups?
What is the staff turnover rate? Frequent staff changes can have a negative impact on your child, and affect his or her sense of security. Find out how long caregivers have worked there and what the staff morale is like – if they are happy, there’s less of a chance they will leave.
What is the policy on sick children? Are they strict about not allowing children with a runny nose to attend? Or do they draw the line at a fever? Some places are less strict about allowing visibly sick children, which can be a problem when it spreads germs to all the other kids.
If you have questions about choosing a good day care or about the Childventures child care program, we’d love to hear from you. Comment on our blog below, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.