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It’s important to be able to focus on your work as a provider, and sometimes the only way to do that is to find a daycare for your child. It isn’t the ideal — sure, there will be fewer days of changing diapers and stealing twenty-minute power naps, but it’s hard to go from bonding and caring for your baby all day to being separated for hours on end.
So before you choose a daycare, make sure to keep these things in mind so that you can make the best decision for you and your child.
Visit a Lot of Daycares
When searching for a daycare, it’s important to visit the facility yourself. People and organizations you trust might tell you great things about the daycare and give it rave reviews, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right daycare for you or your child.
Don’t feel like you’re wasting your time visiting daycares. It’s important to visit a lot of daycares so that you know what your options are.
You might fall in love with the first daycare you visit, and that may end up being your choice, but you should always visit a variety of places just to be sure that you’re picking the perfect daycare for your family. Think of it like an interview process — that’s exactly what it is.
When you’re on your visit, ask as many questions as you can, even if you feel like you’re asking more than normal. Remember that the daycare should be trying to impress you and that as a parent, you should want to know everything about the place that will be caring for your child.
No question is too obvious, too invasive, or silly in any way. You want the best for your child, and that includes finding a daycare that has everything you and your child need.
Daycare Types and Accreditation
There are a few different daycare philosophies to choose from — even the option of having a daycare provider come to your home. If your child has special needs or is more comfortable in a small setting like your home, it might be better to have a daycare provider come to you.
If your child needs more social interaction and mental stimulation but isn’t old enough for school yet, a daycare with other children in a place away from home is the best idea.
Accreditation is another factor to consider in weighing your options. A daycare that is accredited has been assessed and accepted as having met the standards that are decided on by the accrediting agency.
The following organizations allow you to search for accredited child care centers on their websites:
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The National Child Care Association (NCCA)
The National After School Association (NAA)
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
Bring Your Child to Visit
A daycare may look great to you, with happy children and involved staff and a clean and organized facility, but the most important thing is how your child interacts. Make sure to take your them to visit the daycares you’re considering before you make a final decision. If you like what you see and your child gets along with the other kids and teachers, you might have the right fit.
Look For Clearly Established Rules
It’s important that your child has fun, but it’s also important that there are solid rules and a definite structure to keep your child safe.
Look for a clearly outlined list of rules, regulations, and policies. Do they display information about illnesses that might stop your child from coming to school and cleanliness practices? Do they allow for an open-door policy for visits? If a daycare does not welcome parents stopping by without warning, that would be a red flag.
If you’re looking for a daycare that provides educational support for your child, it’s important that you take a look at the daycare’s curriculum to make sure it’s up to par.
There should be a variety of different activities such as exercise, story time, snack time, and quiet time.
If you’re the kind of parent that doesn’t like your children spending too much time watching TV or playing with electronics, make sure that electronic learning is not a primary focus of the daycare’s curriculum.
Observe the Children and Staff
When you’re looking at daycares, make sure that the teachers and childcare workers are warm and happy and giving the children a lot of physical and verbal attention.
Keep in mind the child to teacher ratio, and ask yourself if your child will get the attention he or she needs. Even if the staff is kind and attentive, there’s only so much that can be done if there are simply too many children for them to watch.
When looking for a daycare, one of the most important things to keep in mind is safety. Make sure that the daycare has emergency plans for all kinds of disasters, and that the daycare is spacious and child-appropriate. See what kind of training and medical supplies are on-hand. Consider the center’s location, relative to nearby hospitals or pediatric urgent care centers like Night Lite.
You should also make sure that there are separate areas for smaller children. Although many daycares care for a specific spectrum of ages, it’s not safe for older children to be playing around babies. In addition to separate areas, the toys and activities for each age-group should be appropriate.
All in all, the most important thing is that your child is happy and safe. When choosing your child’s daycare, it’s important to keep all of these things in mind so that the daycare you choose is a place you can trust to be the best daycare for your child.
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