Tips For Selecting The Perfect Daycare From One Mom To Another
To select the right daycare, you must first decide which type of care you want. Although each category has several subdivisions, your choice comes down to two principle options, each with its own pros and cons: daycare centers and in-home daycare. If you evaluate in-home daycare against daycare centers, you may be mixing apples and oranges. Therefore, decide on a daycare type before you evaluate particular facilities.
After you choose the daycare type, begin considering local providers. Here are some tried and true ways to objectively test each daycare facility.
1. Research your options. You wouldn’t have your hair cut by a complete stranger. Instead, you would ask friends and coworkers for references. Finding the right daycare facility begins the same way. Ask around and find out what parents like and do not like about various providers. Once you have a list, look for membership in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or theNational Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC). Membership in these groups is not must, but it helps. Finally, ask for references, and then call them.
2. Evaluate ratios. For babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ratio of one adult to three infants. However, this ratio may not be adequate if toddlers are frequently in the baby room, demanding time and attention from caregivers. In the same way, one special-needs infant may require a personal caregiver. Check the ratio, but then check the reality.
3. Look for interaction. More than food, water and shelter, your child needs love to grow and thrive. Look around and see if caregivers are interacting with the children. Are they on the floor playing? Are children in their laps being read to? Or are caregivers detached, watching the children rather than engaging with them.
4. Determine if your parenting philosophy meshes with the facility’s policies. Everyone has opinions about nap times, food choices, television, and discipline. If your provider’s philosophy does not mirror your own, this could be a problem. While you may feel flexible about one issue, such as maintaining a schedule, you may be completely inflexible about another, such as discipline. Therefore, examine both the provider’s policies and your personal flexibility.
5. Find turnover statistics. Children thrive on stability and love. If a caregiver the children trust suddenly leaves, this could cause mental strain. Find out what causes turnover or, conversely, why retention is so high.
6. Arrive unannounced. Nothing provides real-world information like a few surprise visits. Do not be intimidated. You are deciding which facility will care for your child.
7. Listen to your intuition. If your gut tells you that something is “off,” then seriously consider why. Even if the provider is highly recommended, this facility may not be the right place for your child.
After completing these steps, you should be pleased with the daycare facility you chose. However, if the provider does not measure up, it is okay to begin again. While change is difficult, keeping your child with the very best provider is extremely important.
Choosing the right daycare provider is one of the most important decisions you will make. So do some research, make some phone calls, and listen to your intuition. You will feel confident when you know you have chosen the very best caregivers for your child.
Trudy enjoys studying early childhood development psychology. She works at The Growing Tree Academy where she provides parents with tips on how they can raise healthy, happy children.