Where should you go? What can you afford? Whom can you trust with your child? Unfortunately, most parents just are not sure what they should be looking for or even where to start when it comes to finding the right day care. We have put together some questions and answers to help parents weed out the good from the bad and help them on the road to finding that right day care for their child.
1. Choosing Home Care or Preschool for Day Care
Deciding on either home care or preschool for your child will depend on the experience you want your child to have at day care. Home care will provide your child with a more nurturing environment. There will be a smaller number of children and less structure for your child. A preschool will be often divided into smaller classes and offer your child more field trips and other educational opportunities. You will have to decide on what type of experience you want your child to have.
2. Trust Your First Impression on the Day Care
Use a word association on what you felt as you walked into the day care facility or home. First impressions on a facility will tell you a lot about how well it is run. If you got a happy or secure feeling, write it down and note it for later. Chances are you will be visiting many day care homes and facilities and it is important to remember your first impressions.
3. Your Child’s Daily Structure at Day Care
While visiting the day care, look to see what type of activities they have the children doing. Are they allowed free, unrestricted play or is it a total structured day for the children? Experts agree that the best day care situations are ones that incorporate both.
4. Learn About the Meals at Day Care
Ask if meals are provided or do you need to provide a lunch and snack for your child. If food is provided, ask to see the weekly menu and verify that it is balanced and nutritious. Make sure there are plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat in the menu. See where the meals are prepared and verify if they are pre-packaged or home cooked.
5. Nap Time at Day Care
You will find in most day care facilities that naptime is a policy. This is a time where children will lie down and sleep during the day, usually sometime after lunch. Will this disrupt your child’s nighttime routine or are you okay that they nap in the afternoon?
6. Child to Teacher Ratio at Day Care
Many states have certain regulations concerning the ratio of day care teachers and children. However, a good rule of thumb is at least one provider per six children. If it is a home care facility then there should be at least two adults per child due to the limited space and facilities in a home.
7. Other Children’s Attitudes at Day Care
A great way to judge a good day care facility is by watching the children interact with the teachers. If the children are affectionate and comfortable approaching the teachers, then there is a positive learning environment at that day care.
8. The Location of the Day Care
It is important to understand that the location of the day care can affect your child. Is the location safe and can your child play outside? Are there parks or other places to visit nearby?
9. The Cost of Day Care
Find out what the schedule is with the day care. What time can you drop off and what time can you pick your child up at? Make sure your work schedule will fit the day care schedule. Ask what the fines are if you pick up your child after the scheduled time. Ask about any holidays and days that they day care facility might be closed.
10. Find Out What Your Child Thinks of Day Care
This might be the last tip on the list, but it is probably the most important. Your child can help this big decision along. Bring them along to the day care open house or interviews. Look to see how they interact with the providers and other children. Ask your child if they had fun and would they like to go back and play there again. Those answers might be the confirmation you need to make a great decision on a great day care.