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Five Things You Must Know Before Choosing a Daycare
for Your Child

            Choosing the best daycare for your child can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll face.  If you work full time, your child will spend more of her waking hours at the daycare than at home.  This means that finding the perfect daycare is critical to her well-being.  Here are the five things that you must be aware of when touring daycare facilities and making that difficult decision.

  • The Physical Space: All daycares in the United States are regulated and must pass certain criteria in order to even open their doors.  However, you should be hyper-aware of the physical space your child will be spending his time in.  Is it clean?  Does is have a wide variety of age-appropriate toys and activities?  Are there any obvious safety hazards that have not been addressed by the staff?  Also, look for pets and live plants in the rooms.  The space should feel like a place that you yourself would want to spend eight hours in.  If it doesn’t feel good to you, turn around and walk away. 
  • The Staff:  Teacher turnover is a huge problem for daycares, so make sure that you feel very comfortable with and confident in the director of the program, not just your child’s potential teacher.  It’s a sad fact, but daycare workers are at the bottom of the wage scale and it can be a very stressful job.  Ask the director about the teacher turnover in the daycare.  It will give you a good idea about what the working conditions are like for the teachers.  Also, look closely to see that the teaching staff is focused on the children, not on the other adults in the room.  I was once completely snubbed by a teacher who was working with a child as I toured their classroom.  My son was enrolled in her class that very day.  I wanted a teacher who would be focused on my son and his development.
  • Curriculum: Ask to see what the children are working on.  If there is no curriculum or if they seem to focus on coloring sheets, it is not the best place for your child.  No matter what the age group, there should be art, science, manipulatives, reading and writing activities available every day.  For your child’s optimal growth, she must be mentally stimulated. 
  • Discipline: Ask how conflicts between the children are worked out.  If possible, ask some of the older children how the staff handles conflict.  Staff should be facilitators, not umpires, when it comes to conflict.  This means that the staff should be facilitating communication and accountability with each child, not saying that one was right and the other wrong and punishing the offender. 
  • Trust Your Gut: Look, you should feel absolutely wonderful about the daycare setting your child is placed in.  Every time you leave your child, you should know that he is well cared for, respected, stimulated and is having FUN.  If it doesn’t feel right to you on some level, don’t leave your child there.  You deserve to have peace of mind about where your child is and what he is doing when you have to be somewhere else.  Trust yourself.  Even if you can’t define why you don’t like a particular setting, just knowing that it’s not the perfect place for your child is enough.  Keep looking until you do find that perfect setting for him.

by: Shelly Walker



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