By Michele Borba
Of course you want a great day care for your child. But how to you know which facility is the best one for your child? My strongest recommendation: Observe a few. And always observe when children are there. It will help you decide if it’s a place you want your child to spend part of his or her day. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself and the staff in making your final decision:
1. Does this seem like a place my child would like to be? Use your instinct on this one. Can you see your child fitting in and being comfortable in this environment? You know your child better than anyone, so rely on your instincts.
2. What do you when my child or other children are ill? Find out what the policy is when children are ill at the center. Is there a supervised location where they can be removed from the other children?
3. What is the daily schedule? There should be a consistent daily structure where children know what is expected. Is there a balance between physical activities and quieter ones. Watch the children. Are they doing the kinds of activities your child would enjoy doing? Make sure children are actively engaged in creative play and are not just sitting and doing paper and pencil tasks. Then visualize your child in this setting: Would he thrive here?
4. What is the ratio between staff and children? It’s always best to have a smaller number of staff to children. You want to make sure your child is being closely watched.
5. Is the staff “kid friendly?” Watch the interaction between the staff and children. Do they enjoy kids? Are they patient and kid-oriented? Are they respectful towards them? And (most importantly) do the children appear to enjoy the staff? The “kid friendly” rule has always been the one I was the pickiest about when choosing a school for my own children.
6. How do you deal with aggressive children? Ask what their discipline approach is for inappropriate children’s behavior – especially for hitting or biting. Make sure they have a thought-out plan and you agree with their plan.
7. Is the Day Care within my budget? Are there any additional costs for the program such as materials or transportation?
8. Are the children enjoying themselves? Do they appear to be happy and active? Is there a variety of activities that are age-appropriate for the children?
9. Will my child be safe here? Is it well gated? Are electrical sockets covered? Are fire extinguishers available? How well are they equipped to deal with accidents? Is the staff trained in CPR? Hopefully, there will never be a safety issue, but a good day care makes sure that children’s safety is a primary focus.
10. Do the staff share the same values as I do? These people will be sharing their lives with your child, so you want them to hopefully share a few similar values. Think through what are your core beliefs about raising your child and watch to see if the staff models them. For instance: Are they respectful? Do they require children to be courteous and are they courteous to children? Are they dressed neat and appropriately?
Just remember: Using simple parenting secrets can make real differences on your children’s lives—especially when you choose ones that matter most in raising good kids then commit to making them become a habit in your daily parenting.
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