Having to put your baby in daycare can be a very stressful and worrying time for parents, especially if it is the first time they have been left with a stranger. But a way to lower your stress levels is to do your homework to ensure that you pick the right daycare setting.
Every family has different needs and priorities when looking for the right care for their children, meaning that what is critical to one family may not be so important to another.
So when you go and visit a daycare you should know what you need to ask in order that the needs of your family are met. To help you out we have put together a list of some of the most important questions to ask your daycare provider to help you find the answers you need.
If your chosen daycare provider is unable to give you the answers that you need then it is probably not going to be the right place for your family.
In this article
- How Do You Pick A Daycare?
- Key Questions To Ask Your Daycare Provider
- The Final Thought
How Do You Pick A Daycare?
It is more often than not a feeling that you will get when touring the facility rather than awards and certificates. Although they are of course important too. There are some crucial things that every good daycare setting should have such as:
Education and Experience
The director of the facility should be highly educated and have experience in early education,
Highly Trained Staff
The staff within the classrooms should be highly experienced and knowledgeable. Lead members of staff should have degrees or certifications. You could also enquire with regard to on-going staff training.
Licensing and Accreditation
State-level licensing is a minimum standard. A license is a permission to run the business – neither indicates the quality of the care.
A good quality facility will have very specific signing-in and safety procedures in place.
Check out their classroom curriculum, checking for planned activities and lessons that are age-appropriate.
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Positive Adult to Child Interactions
When you go for your tour observe the way that the adults interact with the children. Are the children generally happy? Are they having fun? Do the children talk freely with the adults or do they seem apprehensive.
Daily Routines In Place
Children enjoy structure it makes them feel more secure in their environment if they know what is coming next. This is why a daily routine in a setting such as daycare is favored and it should be on the walls for everyone to see.
Dedicated Areas for Reading, Arts & Crafts
Language, creative activities, and reading should be one of the main focus points in a daycare. They offer children the opportunity to expand their vocabulary and comprehension while they engage with both their peers and adults.
Reading to children provides them opportunities to explore picture books full of new worlds and adventures. The classroom should be welcoming and provide age-appropriate books.
A Diverse Environment
Every child needs to see themselves represented in their setting. This could be through toys, storybooks, staff members, and of course their peers.
These are just some of the important points that as parents you need to look out for in your potential daycare provider.
Key Questions To Ask Your Daycare Provider
- What are your child-to-adult ratios?
- How many children attend the daycare?
- What food and drink are provided?
- Where do children nap?
- What is your daily schedule like?
- Are children split into groups by age?
- How do you comfort children that are upset?
- What supplies should I provide for my child?
- Family-specific questions such as if you use cloth diapers; if you have an unusual schedule; flexibility.
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- What are your policies on vacation/sick days/snow days/summer hours?
- Can you tell me about your discipline policy?
- What are your policies and childcare philosophies?
- Can parents drop by to breastfeed their children?
- What happens if we are late to pick up?
- What is your potty training policy?
- Are children transported in a vehicle? Where would you go? Check the condition of the vehicle?
- What are the tuition fees? sibling discounts?
- Is there a waiting list?
- How have your staff been vetted?
- Are your staff accredited?
- Do you conduct background checks on your staff?
- Do they have ongoing training?
- Do the staff provide potty training support?
- Do you administer medication?
Safety and Communication
- How do you communicate with the children’s parents?
- Are children required to be up to date on immunizations?
- Is there a licensed nurse on staff?
- What protocol do you follow if a child is sick or injured?
- What is your visitation policy?
- Are toys regularly cleaned and sanitized?
- Does the facility have functioning cameras?
- Has the facility been baby-proofed?
- Are you licensed and if so by whom?
- Do you have references?
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- Is there a weekly learning plan?
- Do children get time outside?
- Do you provide any educational curriculum?
- Is screen time permitted?
- What holidays are celebrated?
- What activities do you do with the children?
You may have thought of many other questions that are more specific to your family’s needs and of course ask those. But also ensure that you have all the answers that you need in order to make an informed decision.
What is the best age for daycare?
Research has shown that the best age for a child to start daycare is at least 12 months old. Waiting until this time is not always possible due to work commitments and family situations.
What makes a daycare great?
If you start with the basics of sensitive, trained caregivers who are absolutely committed to their role, a low child to adult ratio as well as a fun, creative, clean, and expressive environment.
The Final Thought
Placing your child in daycare is worrying for any parent. But knowing what you are looking for in a high-quality setting can help to eliminate some of those worries.
When you go for your visit, go prepared, do your homework on the daycare you are visiting, and don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. After all, you are looking for the best possible person after yourself to care for the most precious thing in your life – your child!
If you are still not 100% sold on daycare then why not take a look at our comparison of Nanny vs Daycare vs Au Pairs and see if there is a better option for your family.