It’s time for you to find a childcare center for your child. Once you start doing your homework you discover that there are so many options to choose from – it seems like you’re spoilt for choice. So how do you choose the right childcare center for your kid?
I can understand your confusion; most parents struggle with this because they want the best childcare services for their children. You want them to be learning, to be safe and loved, and above all you want them to be happy.
- What makes a high-quality childcare center?
- Checklist of a quality childcare center
- Things to look out for when touring/choosing a daycare center
- Questions to ask during your childcare center tour
- Take a tour and meet our team
We’re lucky to be spoilt for choice when it comes to the number and quality of childcare services available to us in the U.S. today. However, there are some childcare centers that go above and beyond expectations to deliver exceptional care to your child. Therefore, if you’re a parent looking for quality childcare for your kid, this article will help guide you in your search. Let’s begin!
What makes a high-quality childcare center?
Parents often ask these questions: what makes a high-quality childcare center? How do I ensure my child is enrolled in a high-quality childcare center?
While there is no single definition of quality in childcare, experts in the field agree that a center is deemed to be quality if it creates a stimulating, safe, and loving environment for your kid, and also meets the standard outlined.
Therefore, some of the key factors essential to the well-being of children in a high-quality center include:
- Safety, health, and good hygiene.
- Well-balanced nutritional diet.
- Suitable number of highly skilled staff.
- Positive and warm interactions with children, adults, and staff.
- Well-maintained environment and safe physical setting.
- Opportunities to develop social, emotional, motor, cognitive, and language skills through play.
Checklist of a quality childcare center
It’s important to know which aspect of a childcare center matters to you and what to look for. Hence, we’ve provided a list of what to look for (in various categories) in a childcare center.
Health and safety
- The license should be posted in a visible place for everyone to see.
- The center is clean and neat.
- Staff and children wash their hands regularly.
- Toys are disinfected regularly (daily for infants and toddlers).
- There are clear routines to follow in case of an emergency.
- Children are well supervised.
- The number of children in the center meets the provincial/territorial standards.
Environment, materials and programming
- A warm, welcoming atmosphere for parents.
- Children have access to a variety of age-appropriate materials and equipment.
- There is considerable opportunity for active play, much of it outdoor.
- Parents are regularly provided with information about their kid’s day and activities, as well as the daily schedule, and programming.
- The staff have education or training related to working with children.
- Staff can provide a police reference check.
- There is an “open door” policy from staff to parents.
- There is an adequate plan for staff replacement in the event of illness or other absence.
Things to look out for when touring/choosing a daycare center
There are several things you think of when you’re on the hunt for a high-quality childcare center; this also varies from person to person. Thus, what’s important for you will be dependent on your family priority, your personality, and your child’s personality. However, here are the things we think you should look out for when touring or choosing a daycare center.
Do your homework
You should ask other parents you trust for their recommendations and also their experience with the center. However, don’t just take their word for it because experiences are subjective and will vary from person to person.
Trust your intuition and consider your child in the setting
Everyone has great intuition (most people interpret it as gut feeling). Does the center feel like the right fit for your kid? What is the vibe when you walk through the doors?
Furthermore, just as you get a sense of an environment by how it makes you feel, you can also observe how your child feels about the setting. Do they appear happy, calm, and keen to explore the new environment? Are there things in the setting that excites them?
Observe the people in the center
You should observe the people in the center. Are they attentive, warm, and welcoming to you and your kid? Are they interested in you and your kid?
Observe how they interact with the children in the setting. Are they attentive and warm to them? Do they treat the children with respect? Are the children happy, calm, and settled? These are some of the things you must observe in the center. However, bear in mind that even at a happy center, it’s absolutely natural to see some tears.
Is there a primary caregiver?
This is especially important for infants and toddlers. Infants’ and toddlers’ relationships with attuned adults help them learn how to respond to the world. This is because they need to learn how to form a significant relationship with one adult before they can form further relationships with others. Thus this transition is also a significant change for your child.
If your baby is cared for by a primary caregiver, it means that majority of your child’s needs will be undertaken by that staff. Consequently, you’ll be having a staff that knows you and your child very well. This bond will also be the bridge that makes you and your child know other staff and children in the setting with time.
Find out the routines and rituals of the center
When we talk about routines and rituals of the childcare center, we are talking about the care moments for young children such as eating, nappy changing or toileting, and sleeping. These moments are very important for nurturing young children (both physically and emotionally). It is through these care moments that young children develop trust with people around them. Therefore, you must find out the routines and rituals of the center and if possible, observe them.
Questions to ask during your childcare center tour
Highlighted below is a list of pertinent questions to ask during your childcare center tour:
What is your centers’ approach to discipline?
This question is arguably the most important and hence ranked top of the list. This is because you can tell a lot about a center’s general philosophy by its approach to discipline. You can explore this further by asking more questions on this subject. Does the staff reprimand children with raised voices? Are there punishments for bad behavior?
While every parent handles discipline differently, it’s important to know if the general attitude of the childcare center squares away with your own.
What is the staff-to-child ratio?
The demand for child care is high across the country. As a result, centers that don’t maintain a hard-and-fast staff ratio can become overwhelmed easily – regardless of how talented and experienced their staff is. Therefore, you must address this upfront so you can rest assured that the center has the resources required to adequately meet the needs of your kid.
What is your protocol when a child is sick or injured?
You’re going to need to find your comfort zone in order to evaluate your answer to this question. In other words, do you want to be notified midday if your kid has a minor injury or will that cause you needless stress?
This is why you should communicate with the childcare provider to know what you want. You also need to know about their sick policy. These details can help prepare you for a situation that requires a missed day or an early pick-up.
Has the staff been vetted?
It’s also a good idea to ask if the staff members are certified and their background checked. This would reassure you that every member of the staff is well trained and they were screened for criminal behaviors.
What is your policy on late pick-ups?
Every parent (including the most punctual) knows that certain situations may arise and make them late to pick their kid. Thus, it’s helpful to know the centers’ policy on late pick-ups. Some of the territories you’ll want to cover include whether or not you can give last-minute permission (via phone call or email) for your child to be sent home with a friend, and how much you will be charged for late pick-up.
Does your center provide any educational curriculum?
Look, most childcare centers probably won’t have the time to teach your preschooler how to read. Hence, grilling a potential caregiver in areas of academic studies could be a total waste of time. However, education involving play-based learning of basic skills (think: color identification, fine motor skills development, and shape-sorting) is important for your child. Therefore, it’s important to find out if the childcare center makes an effort to steer children towards skill-boosting activities.
What is your center’s visitation policy?
This question is especially important for parents who would like to drop by regularly and see firsthand how their child’s day is like. No doubt there are countless reasons why you may want to pay a visit to your child’s childcare center. Thus, you should ask the provider about their visitation policy, both announced and unannounced.
Do you regularly clean and sanitize the toys and environment?
This question is always relevant; however, it’s more vital today during this Covid-19 times. A high-quality childcare center must maintain a high standard of hygiene so that children won’t fall sick. This includes sanitizing the entire environment and toys regularly and enforcing appropriate hand-washing habits.
Take a tour and meet our team
We encourage families to take a tour of our center and visit our team. Visiting us at Perfect Angels Learning Center is a great way to meet our center director and learn more about our approach to early learning, check out our facilities, our daily routines, and the indoor and outdoor experiences offered. You can book a tour through this site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today.