As an owner of a child care center, I meet many parents who have trouble choosing between their top child care centers that they’ve visited when on the search for the perfect facility. As a result, I’ve come up with 9 tips that may help the next parent choose a child care center based on what I find to be truly important.
- Site Tour – Before you choose any daycare center whether it be a residential daycare, commercial center or a babysitter – make sure to plan a visit! A site tour allows parents to interact with the center’s staff and view the center’s environment. Parents are able to determine their decision easily from a simple site visit. You are able to ask questions directly and follow-up with them quickly versus email or phone communication.
- Programs and Activities – Make sure to ask centers what kind of field trips and/or activities they offer their children. Outings are great opportunities for children to learn and create experiences outside of the classroom. It’s best to know if your child is an extrovert or introvert which will help determine the amount of extra-curricular activities you want your day center to offer.
- Flexibility – If you are a parent who works around the clock and has irregular work hours make sure to ask about their weekday availability, weekends, holidays, and last-minute drop-in or on-demand care. Many facilities have strict operating hours, charge even if your child isn’t in attendance, but some are able to create a customized schedule for your children based on parents’ schedules.
- Policies – Make sure to read or engage in conversation regarding their policies: illness, late pick-up, transportation, discipline, media time, meals, medication, and outdoor/indoor play.
- Take Notes – I would suggest starting a list of pros and cons for each potential daycare facility. This will help you gather all the necessary information that will become important during the decision making process.
- Staff Personalities – Yes, it is extremely important to know if staff members have child care training, certifications, licenses and more but also how they interact. Make sure to introduce yourself to staff members and observe how they interact with children during your visit.
- Number of Staff Members – Find out how many staff members work throughout the day and if they fulfill the child-staff ratio. It is important to know if your child will be supervised by a staff member who is not overwhelmed with the amount of children present.
- Clean and Happy – If you do a site tour, take note of how clean the space is and if it fits your personal standards. Ask yourself do the children seem happy? Are they enjoying themselves and other children? Do they have enough toys/activities to do indoor and outdoor to occupy children?
- Trust Your Gut – There will always be nerves when registering for your first child care center or simply changing difference centers. All I can advise is to trust your gut. You are your child’s parents and will know what environment they will learn and grow the best in.