Choosing a good quality Daycare or Childcare Center for your child is vitally important not only for the safely, education and development of your child but also for your own peace of mind. It's no fun being at work worrying about your child's wellbeing especially as you may suspect your child maybe having a hard time at the center or daycare home. You will probably be spending a good portion of your earnings on the care of your child which in some families can become a big worry. It's important that you feel your money is well spent, otherwise resentment towards your child and choice of care will fester over time.
How to choose?
Firstly I would not recommend daycares run from home for the following reasons:
- Different age group children will be mixed in same group. That makes it difficult to impossible to appropriately develop the child as the carer would have to have up to 5 different activity programs running concurrently.
- Home daycares are usually run by one (or maybe an additional family member) which means if you have 6 children in one room, all of differing ages, the chance that your child will be ignored or become bored is very high.
- What happens if the carer goes off on vacation? or worse goes off sick at no notice. This means you will be scrabbling for someone else to look after your child, which is highly detrimental for continuity and totally confusing and upsetting for the child. Chances are you will either be late for work or calling in. I've known moms or dads get fired for calling in too many times.
- With no other carer "watching the primary carer could take short cuts, ignore the children by taking a break, not following a curriculum based lesson plans or mess about on their phone texting or be on social media, which puts your child at a safety risk
This choice I would recommend
Ask your friend and colleagues if they would recommend a center. This is probably the best way to narrow your search. Also, look up local centers on Google or other search engines. Look for reviews. What are other people saying? Does the schools website contain real examples of "Thank you Bouquets", does it explain the curriculum, does it explain the ethos and philosophy of the center or home. Do you agree with the philosophy. If the web site gives you a good feeling and philosophy gives you a good feeling call up and ask about costs. If the price is right book an appointment for a tour.
The reason I recommend booking an appointment is that by arranging time for someone to be available at the mutually agreed time means you will be given 100% attention and be able to ask as many questions as you want without being rushed.
When touring a center I've listed below 7 areas that you should focus on.
- Look for damage toys, ripped, dirty or stained carpeting.
- Look for Cleanliness: no dust everywhere
- Look for clean bathrooms
- Look for non overflowing garbage bins, no food scraps lying around
- Look in the kitchen to ensure its clean, (if food is prepared)
- Look for a well maintained outside play area
- Look for hazards such as sharp objects, broken furniture, choking hazards such as very small toys in an infant room
- How friendly are the teachers and staff
- Are the teachers smiling when you enter the room or scowling
- Are voice levels of teachers low
- Are the rooms calming, especially in the infant room
- Is the menu healthy and will you receive a menu regularly
- Is water available for your child to drink
- Inspect the kitchen
- Ask what happens if your child doesn't eat lunch. ( After lunch you should be informed and your child should be offered something else not on menu but still nutritious (No child should go hungry)
- Ask to see the class lesson plan. Is it appropriate for your child's age?
- Ask to see all the differing play corner areas for appropriateness, There MUST be a block area, Library/Literacy area and a Dramatic Play area as a minimum
- Ask if any regular assessments are done and if you will receive a report
- Are books readily available in all rooms
- Ask what curriculum is used (look it up later to make sure your happy with it)
- Ask what communications channels are used?
Lake Mary Childcare use several forms of communication
- Bulletin boards
- Daily reports for younger children (older children are encouraged to talk to mom and dad about their day)
- Weekly and monthly news letters
- Lesson plans posted
- Menues posted
- Teacher/Parent Conferences
- Lake Mary Childcare Director gives 24/7 access for Parents to call with any concerns
- Emails usually answered within a couple of hours
6. The travel distance
Do you pick a center close to work, close to home, near any siblings schools or somewhere in between. Shortening your travel time will greatly enhance you experience of your childs Childcare Center.
Childcare Centers usually price for attendance rather like a college. If you don't attend you still have to pay for the space as teachers and rent still has to be paid.
- Ask if you get any free weeks for vacation
- Ask about attendance policy
- What are payment options
- will they accept YOUR preferred payment options and method
In closing: Cheap means cheap and low quality; but bare in mind that expensive doesn't guarantee top quality. I personally know of some very expensive Centers who's quality is very questionable. I believe that somewhere middle of the road on price can still give excellent quality.
Good luck on your search.
All photographs have participants and parents approval and have been taken in Lake Mary Childcare center