Showing posts with label Daycare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daycare. Show all posts

Friday, July 17, 2020

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Daycare


I want to talk about selecting a daycare that works for your family. 

The first thing that I want to mention is that it is a very unique choice. All families are different and may have different needs so a perfect setup for someone else might not be the best option for you or even a liable one. The three big umbrella options are to have your child watched by someone in your home, to have your child watched by someone in another home, or to have your child watched by multiple caregivers in a center environment. And here, I am using centers, churches, preschools, and daycares interchangeably because they all accomplish the same goal but in a different way while including multiple children and multiple caregivers.

A center was the right choice for my family based on set hours, reliability, and price point. There are many other benefits for our family as well, but these variables were the driving force for our decision.

Below is a sample worksheet of the type that we used.


Below is our story.

Since my family was looking at centers, we wanted to find one that was affordable, had a good parent-caregiver culture, was close to our home, and most importantly was licensed. And it was the combination of licensing and location that dwindled down our list right away. We did not want to drive more than 5 miles in a heavy traffic area and especially not during snowy weather. We felt a sense of safety and comfort with state licensing given training requirements. At the end of the day, I did not want my child watched by someone not certified in CPR and first aid. That is how we limited our search to 18 center!

Other essential questions dwindled down the list like, do they have infant care starting at a certain age, and do they have a spot exactly when we need the spot? Believe it or not, some centers only offer spots for toddlers.

Another big question was whether the increased work commute was fair for both my husband and I. For example, there was a daycare that was super close to my husband's workplace that ended up not being convenient for me in any way.

Our list got shorter and shorter.

From there, we scheduled tours and focused on the less tangible but very important aspects such as family center culture, toy and playground fun for the children, and curriculum. Now here I do want to say that while some of this information is available online, it is hard to tell what your child will gravitate to. As an example, some centers had bigger slides than others and while the rule of thumb is the more the better, there is no guarantee that a child will be able to use one or enjoy it. We ended up touring around 7 schools.

My husband and I considered it a very important choice and we took two vacation days to complete these tours after routine medical appointments part of our prenatal care. We asked questions about schedules, food, curriculum, discipline, and cultural ducation. We did not want to do this again, so we asked about infant, toddler, and preschool children’s experiences. We did not want to have to find another school in a few years when our child outgrew a curriculum.

At the end of the tours we had our top three choices and we would have been very lucky and grateful to end up at any of them. We ended up with our first choice. It was largely based on the easy and safe drive just one neighborhood over and the relaxed happiness of the toddlers and some of the parents we saw. Also, I grew up going to lots of playgrounds and my husband played extensively outside and we found a center that could offer those same experiences when our child got a bit older.

I want to say that there are very high caliber educators out there and I hope that everyone who is looking for a safe and fun child care center finds that for themselves, and especially during this time with Covid-19. Some of the things that we had appreciated during those tours were good communication, huge playgrounds, attention to hygiene, well thought out curricula, organic lunches, gentle teaching, small classrooms, indoor physical play areas for gross motor skill development, libraries, good relationships between parents and teachers, and so much more.

Are there some things that I would change about my current daycare? Yes and no. I would adjust the curriculum slightly to reflect life skills in contrast to the present more traditional preschool curriculum; however, I am also completely happy with the present more traditional methods for my child because I do think it prepares children for the more subject centered schedule in most schools.

So, how to select your daycare center? Location, price point, curriculum, and overall vibes are just a few ideas. I do want to say that we had toured schools that were very expensive and almost price point prohibitive altogether. And don’t get me wrong, you get what you pay for so you are not simply getting a mystery upcharge. While I do think that people should do what they consider right for their child, I don’t think it is right to live beyond your means and essentially borrow time and resources from your future in order to provide an above and beyond daycare experience for your child. While it might be one of the best investments you ever make, I think it creates an unhealthy precedent for your family.              

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