By Heather Burdo
One of the many worries as a parent is choosing a daycare. With the horror stories you hear, it’s only natural to be in “mama bear” mode during the process. Knowing how to choose a daycare can make the process a bit easier.
Here’s how to deal with less overwhelming feelings and feel reassured with your decision:
Types of Daycare Facilities
When thinking of a daycare, it’s easy to assume it’s just a room full of kids around the same age working on crafts and playing together. While that sounds great for your little ones, you have a couple of options when it comes to the setting.
Home Daycare - This is when a provider runs childcare out of their home. Some home daycare providers receiving training and have their state license. Keep in mind that many do not, so if a license is important to you, always ask if you interview a home daycare.
Benefits: Children receive more one-on-one time with providers. The cost is usually more affordable. Nobody wants to bring germs home, and with an in-home day care, there are usually fewer illnesses your child will be exposed to.
Group Daycare - This is a facility that is state-licensed and usually has similar hours as a school. With group daycare, there are usually children of various ages in different groups.
Benefits: With a group daycare, there are multiple providers so if one is sick, there will be different teachers that can fill in. You can feel reassurance as a group center is licensed and state inspected.
Do Your Own Research
When you venture out to find daycares, the first thing to do is to get recommendations from people you trust. If you don’t have any family or friends who use daycare services, you could ask your child’s pediatrician if they know of any. Another option is to check with the state regulatory agency.
If you come across a daycare that you want to look into further, check to see if they have any reviews on Google. Also, because most people are on Facebook, daycare centers usually have a Facebook page, which usually has reviews.
Do You Want Your Child to Learn or Play?
Of course, more than anything you want to ensure your child is well taken care of. However, some parents may have a preference if their child is having free play all day or if they are being taught as well. Some daycare providers will work with your child so they can learn numbers, colors, and the alphabet. If you have a preference, it’s ideal to search for daycare centers that align with your needs.
Get a Feel For the Atmosphere
As a parent, you have a natural instinct to pick up on things concerning your child. If you ask to check out the daycare, you will know right away if you feel comfortable putting your child in their care. The best thing to do is show up unexpected and tell the daycare you are still looking for a provider and would love to check out their facility and ask some questions. If they let you right in, that’s a good sign.
While you’re at the facility, ask some interview questions such as:
- How many children they provide care for at once
- What their philosophy is with discipline, feeding, early education, etc.
- Qualifications such as CPR
- How do they handle naptime? Do you bring your own sleep mat?
- How sick children are handled
- Policy on immunizations
- Do children need to bring food (if not, what do they eat?)
- Are parents involved at all and for what?
- Who else will be in the home when children are in their care
- Policies for personal emergencies
- How are staff trained for group daycare
Daycare searching doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s a milestone for your child that should be embraced. Despite some stories that you may have heard, there are many wonderful in-home daycare and group daycare centers around that will take great care of your child. Following the above ways to make your process a bit easier will allow you to choose the perfect daycare for you and your family. You will be able to worry less and feel reassured as you drop your child off each day.
If you are a parent and found a great daycare, give our fellow moms and dads some tips on how you found them. Also, give them some other pointers on what to look for. We can’t wait to hear your ideas.
Heather is a freelance writer from New York. When she isn't writing about parenting, she is tending to her own two handsome boys. She enjoys all things related to motivation and mindset. All work aside, she enjoys activities outdoors and being with her family.
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