This week’s guest post is from Nelli Hooper, founder of York Enrichment Childcare Centre in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.
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One of the biggest decisions parents face is in choosing the right group childcare facility for their children. It’s hard to send your young kids to another place every day, but it is easier if it’s a place that feels like home. Here are some things you can do to make sure you make the right choice.
When looking at childcare, it’s never too early to begin. If you have a specific place or are looking at a reputable, exclusive facility, you may have to sign up months in advance. You want to know at what age they begin accepting children so you can plan your time off. The best childcare centres are usually full with only occasional openings when children graduate.
Not all childcare centres are accredited, but many seek that status to add to their reputation with parents. A centre that is accredited has met the requirements and follows the standards and guidelines that have been put in place. In addition, it shows you that they take their centre seriously. You can contact a state agency to find out which ones are licensed and accredited.
Schedule a Tour
You will want to see the centre before you make your decision to give you an idea about where your child will be staying. You should get to see the first room they will be in and meet the caregivers. They should show you around the room and even give you an idea of the schedule your child will have. This can help you feel more comfortable leaving your child in a strange place when the time comes.
This is also your time to inspect the place. Look for cleanliness and organisation. While any place with young kids is bound to have some chaos, it should be kept to a minimum. Are kids taught to line up and take turns? You can often see this even on a walk-thru of the facility as the kids are engaged in their normal activities. Caregivers and teachers should always be actively involved with the kids.
Before you take a tour, you should prepare a list of questions that you want to ask. Some of them may be for the director while others will be for the teacher.
- What is the ratio of teachers to children?
- How many children will be in your child’s class?
- What training and certification have the teachers had?
- Is there a lot of turnover?
- Do the children have a schedule?
- How is discipline handled?
- Are there opportunities for parents to talk to teachers?
- How do you handle special situations such as food allergies and special requirements?
Ask About Parent Visits
Find out if the childcare facility allows parents to visit their children. They may require pre-planned visits while some may be more laid back and allow you to drop in. However, all centres should encourage parents to stop by at appropriate times. Some examples include on holidays, for classroom parties, or even for breakfast or at snack time. These visits allow you to see how your child handles the childcare setting on a daily basis.
Find out from friends and other parents what they think of certain childcare centres. They will tell you the good and bad about where they send their kids. You can also ask other people that work with kids. Library personnel, paediatricians, church teachers, and others can provide valuable insight on the best places to send your child.
Take the time to learn about the childcare centre where you plan to send your child. Since they spend the majority of their days in this place, it should provide them the stability and love that they need to grow and develop into happy, healthy kids.
6 responses to “Guest Post: 6 Tips for Choosing Childcare”
My wife and I are looking for a daycare to enroll our son in next year, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about getting a tour and asking about things like the ratio of teachers to students. I’ll be sure to ask about this so I know he’ll get the care and attention he needs from the supervisors.
I like that you suggested choosing a center that lets you visit occasionally because it can help you see how your child is functioning. I have been looking for a place to watch my son because I’m about to start working again. I can see how it would be smart to choose a center that lets me visit. That way, I will be able to see how comfortable my son is with staying there.
I just wanted to thank you for going over some considerations to think about when looking for a childcare. I’m glad that you mentioned that you should see what the center is like, especially to help you learn more about where your child will be staying. Not only that, but this seems like a great chance to ask them any questions you may have about the place and to see their work in action.
I like that you suggested taking a tour of the place to get an idea of how clean the daycare is. I have been looking for a new daycare, and I want to find a place that teaches kids to clean up after themselves. I can see how taking a tour, would help me see how much of the cleaning the kids do themselves.
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to ask around when looking for a childcare option. My husband and I are going to need to take our daughter to a daycare for a few hours each day, so we want to make sure it’s a quality place. We’ll definitely start our search by asking around for personal recommendations, and we’ll make sure to do research on each referral we get. Thanks for the great post!
Great article, I would like to add that after the tour, it make cense to make a decision without delay, as childcare spots tend to fill up quickly especially in good, quality centres.