Finding the right daycare is enough to drive any parent crazy. Chances are that you will first go through some weak options before finding the right fit. But you cannot screen these companies based on how they boast about themselves to you. You need to know what to look for and which questions to ask.
5 Signs of a Good Child Care Center
Below, we provide five signs of a great child care center.
Low Teacher-to-Child Ratio
One of the most important factors in any child care center is the teacher-to-child ratio. The years between birth and age three are the most important ones of your child’s developmental experience. During this time, they need nurturing, love, respect, physical touch, good nutrition and exercise. Together, these key elements of their early childhood help them achieve good mental, emotional and physical wellness.
Unfortunately, most child care centers have far too many children in relation to the number of teachers. This makes it impossible for the teachers to provide each child with the nurturing and support they need. Ideally, your chosen preschool should have a one-to-six teacher-to-child ratio.
Your child needs good nutrition. The last thing you want is for your child to spend these critical years eating sugary snacks, fried foods and high-fat meals. Diet is particularly important if your little one has allergies or special dietary needs. These are some of the reasons why you need a child care center that permits you to provide meals and snacks for your own child. Of course, even better is a center that focuses on healthy nutrition and backs that up with smart food choices.
Thoroughly screen your child care options based on the learning programs they provide. Your child needs mental stimulation and preparation for the learning environment of grammar school. Each day, ask what your child’s teacher was taught, which books they read and what other learning took place. Of course, you should receive your child’s artwork and completed worksheets each day, too.
Exercise is key to your child being more attentive and less hyperactive. Physical activity also helps them behave better. A good daycare center ensures the children play outdoors whenever possible as part of the regular morning, noontime and afternoon activities.
Kids misbehave from time to time. Good schools use discipline out of respect for your child and your own parenting goals. Ask about discipline at the schools you screen. They should have a written policy and philosophy on the handling of misbehaving children. Of course, this discipline should never include physical punishment or inappropriate language.
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Questions to Ask a Daycare Provider
When screening child care centers, you should also ask some of the questions below:
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you allow children to bring their own snacks, meals and drinks?
- When do the children play outdoors?
- May I see some of your current students’ class work?
- Can my child attend the school for two hours before signing up, to see how we fit?
- Am I allowed to drop in during the school day to observe classroom activities?
Four Things to Avoid When Screening Child Care Centers
It is important to avoid four common pitfalls when screening child care centers. These include:
- Simply taking a friend’s word on the quality of a particular child care center
- Believing accreditation means the school measures up to your standards for leadership, child education, exercise or nutrition
- Thinking that having a recognized brand name means a high quality of care
- Taking a center at face value, thinking a nicer building equates to a better quality of care