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 centers are usually full with only occasional openings when children graduate.
Not all childcare centers are accredited, but many seek that status to add to their reputation with parents. A center 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 center 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 center 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 organization. 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 centers 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 centers. 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, pediatricians, church teachers, and others can provide valuable insight on the best places to send your child.
Take the time to learn about the childcare center 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.