One of the hardest choices a working mother must make is choosing the right daycare, and feeling at ease about doing so. Choosing the right daycare should be a well-thought out and researched process so that working mothers are not left worried and stressed. There are many daycares out there that are exceptional and then there are those that are down right terrible. The most important considerations when searching for the right fit for your family is picking a childcare facility that benefits your child’s development, but is also fun at the same time.
Daycares have advantages, as well as disadvantages. A good daycare usually has advantages that outweigh the disadvantages. Further, advantages include a mixture of activities with different skills, socialization with other children, and reliability when school’s out or when a child is sick. Disadvantages include a lack of one-on-one attention and germs as children who attend daycare are more likely to pick up a virus than a child who is at home with a nanny.
To assist you in finding a daycare that fits your family’s needs, here are some tips to help you find the right daycare, to help weed out the bad ones, and to know when you have found the right daycare for your family’s needs.
1. Ask yourself the following questions: Do we want a daycare that is close to our home or close to the office? Do you want your children in a small group facility or a larger one?
2. Research. Ask family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and referral agencies what daycares they can recommend. Look on the internet and in the phone book. Think about all the things that matter to you in your search. Is the daycare accredited? Has it received any awards? What do other parents have to say?
3. Gather a list of daycares together and when you have your list, start calling and asking some basic questions. Are they flexible with your schedule? Ask about policies, hours, fees, activities, and philosophies. Ask about the teacher to student ratio. Are their teachers experienced and what types of certifications do their teachers carry? If you have a bad feeling about daycare, make sure you make note of that or any good feelings you may have.
4. Narrow your list down to the daycares you feel most positive about. Now it is time to visit and interview the daycares on the list you have narrowed down. Ask for a list of daily activities. Take a tour of each facility and look around. Does the daycare seem like it is warm, friendly and safe? Pay close attention to the teacher-child ratio, and ask any and every question that comes to mind, because if you are not at ease at the daycare you are touring, your child does not belong there. Further, make sure the director of the daycare is allowing you free access to look around and answering all your questions. Again, rely on your gut feeling when it comes to what daycare will work best for your children.
5. Narrow down your list one more time. Start checking references. This includes parents of children who currently attend and those whose children have previously attended. Ask their opinion and see if they would offer a recommendation to the daycare. For any child who no longer attends, ask their parents why that is the case.
6. Take your child for a visit to the daycare and observe how your child responds in the classroom and with the teachers and other children. Does your child seem welcomed and comfortable? Do you feel that your child could be happy there?
Once you find a daycare that meets your qualifications and expectations and those of your child, go ahead and enroll your child. If at any time you have questions after the enrollment process, keep asking. If you feel at some point the daycare is not working for your child, go ahead and change daycares. Last, if this is a daycare that you feel you could recommend or not recommend, go ahead; other parents will the same concerns will appreciate this gesture.