The time has come for day care. Perhaps you’re ready to go back to work. Maybe you want to see your child socialize more. Or it could be you just want a bit more free time on your hands. Either way, the time has come to choose a child care center for your child, and you’re wondering how to go about it.
It’s not real easy, is it? Each time you look in the phone book or check the internet tons of different places pop up. They all look about the same and all of them sound pretty good. So how do you know which one is the best one?
There are several things you can look for in a day care center, and you’ll probably have to go around to a few and have a look inside. When you do, focus on these 5 things:
Are the children at the center happy? Seems kind of like a no brainer, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many children are in centers that they hate. Take a look around the place, and note what you see. Are children running around yelling and screaming with joy, or all sitting down rigidly and quietly? Do the children smile when you see them, or are they frowning and looking sad?
Most day cares aren’t going to be run like boot camps, but that doesn’t mean they’re all fun. You want to find a place where your child can be happy while still learning quite a bit. And the happier your child is at day care, the better their social development will be.
Child care centers need to be safe. You should be able to tell this right when you walk in the door. Are there stairs where a child could hurt themselves? Are there barriers preventing children from running out the door? Do all of the play areas look clean and tidy? Are the toys all safe?
Most centers will allow you to walk through and see the whole place. You’ll know right away if something’s not right, so keep your eyes out. The last thing you want is for something to happen to your child. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the center’s safety record, either.
Taking care of young children is a busy job. But it’s not so time consuming that a great day care can’t plan ahead. Day cares shouldn’t just be thought of as a babysitting place where you drop your child off and they do the same thing each day. The best centers will have planned events, such as special arts & crafts days or costume days. This variety will be a great change for your child.
When you’re visiting, ask about what special days they have each week or month. Figure out when these are and if your child would need to bring anything on those days. Chances are they have a schedule and you can sit down to figure out which you and your child would be most excited about.
Word of Mouth
You can read about day cares all day online, but what they say probably won’t convince you as much as what your friends say. Always touch base with those you know when looking for a day care. Chances are one of your friends or co-workers can fill you in on a great option. If people are willing to give high praise about a place, chances are it’s good. No amount of advertising is going to replace positive word of mouth reviews, so find those first.
Bonding with caregivers is very important, whether they’re the family you have help out from time to time or the teachers you’ll find at day cares. Children thrive on healthy social relationships, and that should be one of the main things your child’s getting from their caregiver.
For this one you might have to wait a bit with the day care you finally do choose, or find out by talking to other parents. Bonding takes time, but you’ll begin to pick up on it early. Perhaps your child comes home excited at the end of the day talking about how the nice teacher helped them color a great picture. Or they could fill you in on the wonderful story told by so-and-so. Either way, they’re excited and looking forward to seeing that teacher next time, which means your day care is working great.