Step 1 – What type of daycare is right for your child?
Who is being served?
The bottom line here is who is the customer? While many daycare or childcare facilities primarily seek to please the parents, those who ignore children will always lose out in the long run. Why, because when a child is dissatisfied, the parent is the first to know.
On the other hand, this should make you as a parent realize that a childcare or daycare facility will go above and beyond to ensure that you like it. However, it becomes your role to take care of the customers they already have. Are children’s hands and faces clean? Do you smell stale diapers? Do teachers care about children – do they look them in the eye? What tone of voice do teachers speak in?
How does your child learn?
My four-year-old, for example, has an extroverted personality — so I have to pull her away from hugs to complete strangers at the mall. For her, every elderly woman is another “grandmother”.
Well, we decided to enroll her in an excellent Montessori preschool and it was a disaster! The freedom encouraged in a Montessori environment was seen as a license to socialize. When asked to choose an activity, she would try to help all the young children in the class first. The result: All the work I was able to bring home seemed unfinished. As a teacher, I knew something wasn’t right, especially when I knew that she would complete the same types of activities at home for me with no problem.
After seven months, we decided to move her into a more traditional school environment. Presto! After the stabilization period, it settled near the top of its class.
The Montessori setting did not improve her learning style. How does your child learn? What type of personality does your child have? Would the childcare or daycare facility you choose be the best fit for your child? I had to think about this carefully because the preschool environment plays a huge role in building the educational foundation of a child. Click this link to read my article on How Smart Your Child Is?
Step 2 – Know what you need
There’s a good balance between your child’s needs and what’s practical, but this is where I do my best to strike that balance.
As a parent you have practical needs that need to be met; For example, the daycare should be somewhere near home or work. Does it have a drive facility that will cover your car if it rains? Do staff remove children from our vehicle (often known as a “kiss and ride” service)?
Create an image in your mind
The first thing I encourage you to do is think about the perfect daycare location for your child. If money is no object and distance and time are nothing to worry about; What type of daycare or childcare do you want your child to benefit from? Yes, it’s okay to dream!
Take these thoughts and write them down. Add them to the checklist you’ve created and take them to every facility you visit. When you have finished viewing the premises, take notes on how the facility meets your requirements. At this point, don’t let your budget define you. With economic times like this, you’d be surprised at how resilient managers can be. Remember that you are the customer and they want your business.
Does the daycare or child care home have opening and closing hours that work for your job? Is it close enough to your home or work? Does it give you enough time to get to the next point on your journey?
When you look at the menu (it should be displayed at the entrance), does the food look like food your child will eat? Can you bring your own food? When is the last meal served? Will your child come home on a full or empty stomach? Are you able (both physically and financially) to cook or buy fast food every night to feed your child?
Price / budget
How much are the fees? What about registration, activity and book fees? Are you expected to purchase supplies as well? Is lunch provided or is there a charge for serving lunch? Learn about late fees. How much does it cost if you are fifteen minutes late to pick up your child? If you know there is a possibility that you will be late, can you pay that amount?
Ask the outlet if there are any “specials” or introductory prices. If you have a skill that might benefit the facility, offer to exchange your skills for a regular discount. Small business owners are always looking for a place to save money. Trust me, I’ve been there!
Peace of mind
This is perhaps the most important indicator that this is the right place for your child. Take your child with you on the rides. Watch his reaction to the teachers, the facility and the kids. If they can talk, ask them what they think about it, and if they want to come back tomorrow.
Ask yourself these questions. Would you feel comfortable leaving your child there every morning? Do you think if you leave your child there, there will be a nagging feeling deep inside you that something might be wrong? Do you think your child will be happy with your choice?
The facility may seem perfect from the outside, but take the time to listen and trust your gut feelings.
Step 3 – Know what to look for
Use your five senses
Smell: The most important thing to do when you enter the nursery is to smell the air. The smell of wet or unappetizing diapers or food is a sign of some neglect. Sniff out the garbage containers (must be covered) as you walk past them, and most importantly, look out for the smells coming from the kids.
Sight: keep your eyes peeled, as the saying goes! Look around the floor and in corners for dead insects (or their wings). Take the time to research. Marks on ceiling tiles or watermarks within bright panels may be signs of other hygiene issues. Peek into the principal’s office if you can — but remember, preschool principals are very busy people.
Audio: Do teachers yell at children? What kind of tone were they speaking to before she entered the room? Were the children controlled, disciplined, or was there a balance between the two? Chapter sounds often depict atmosphere. An undisciplined classroom is often a reflection of a teacher who doesn’t know how to manage a classroom or a teacher who doesn’t have an attractive lesson plan. There are always exceptions (such as a hyperactive child), but good classroom management should be a priority because structure is said to be good for the child.
Taste: If it’s close to snack time or lunchtime, feel free to ask if you can taste the food being offered to the kids. It may sound a little strange, but if they are not willing to give you some food, you might want to know why.
Touch: While walking through the daycare or childcare center, run your finger along window ledges and on tables to get rid of dust and dirt. You can touch the toys – they should be sterilized and left to air dry every evening. Remember, babies love to put toys in their mouths.
Step 4 – Familiarize yourself with the facility
Most managers have been in this field for many years, and they know the daycare business through and through. However, you may sometimes come across a manager who has just bought the company but who has no experience in the industry. This can sometimes be a tricky combination, so find out as much as possible about your principal before giving away a non-refundable filing fee.
A childcare or daycare building usually speaks for itself. People usually gravitate towards newer daycare buildings, but we need to look beyond the facility and focus on the level of care that is provided within the walls of the building. While a neglected building should certainly set off alarm bells, don’t allow a new building to replace your instincts.
Observe as much of the teachers as you can. Do they happen to be interested? What is their tone of voice when things are not going as they should? Do they pay attention to children? What kind of qualifications do they possess? What does your state define as “eligible”?
Unfortunately, teaching can be a stressful job and often leads to some staff turnover. If your child’s teacher leaves and is replaced by another teacher, it can be upsetting for your child. Try to prepare them by explaining the change to your child beforehand.
Training and teaching skills
A company that invests in its employees will always reap the returns. Ask about the type of training offered to employees. Most states require that all employees have a certain amount of hours in training. If this is up to date, you will see it in the online scan report.
Always ask about the method used. Some of the well-known curriculum types include Abeka, Creative, High Scope, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Theme Based, etc. The curriculum should be stimulating enough to keep your child interested. Consider what your child already knows and what you would like him to know at certain stages. Then assess whether the respective curricula will meet those needs. Remember that different children learn in different ways, so think about what makes your child smart.
Online inspection reports
Most states have these now. It gives you a snapshot of how the facility of your choice stands with the regulatory body. A child care advisor usually visits the center once or twice a year to assess the center’s compliance with state regulations. These reports are records of these visits. They specify what the consultant noticed while they were in the center. Now, remember that this is usually written in “bureaucratic” jargon but if you take the time to comb through it, it could save you a lot of wasted time.
Step 5 – Learn about industry regulations
What are the responsible childcare regulations in your state?
Everyone has a boss and the daycare or childcare industry is no exception! In fact, they are highly regulated, for obvious reasons – they take care of our most prized possessions – our children! Each state has a regulatory body that oversees this role and it is often associated with the Human Resources Department. Click the link below to find out who regulates the childcare industry in your state.
What are the expectations of the governing body for your child?
Many states have developed “Standards of Care” (or equivalent) that daycare facilities are expected to meet. These documents specify the levels of care that can be provided. I’ve found in my research that you can usually count on this – the higher the level of care, the higher the price. In other words, more often than not, you get what you pay for.
The student-teacher ratio tends to vary from state to state, but the Internet makes sure that this information is only a few clicks away. Georgia, for example, has the following early childhood ratios:
6 weeks to 12 months 1:6
From one year to less than two years 1: 8
From 2 years to less than 3 years 1:10
From 3 years to under 4 years 1:15
From 4 years to less than 5 years 1:20
Ratios vary from state to state, so check my website for employee-to-student ratios in your state.
Separating your child should always be within the state’s lineage—this is the number one rule of childcare. If you find a NAYCE (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited center, know that they are always below par, as their standards are higher than state standards. It is understood that NAYCE certified nurseries or preschools usually have slightly higher rates to pay for additional staffing costs.
I hope this serves as a jumping off point in your search for daycare for one of the most important people in your life! All the best in your search….