Every parent only wishes the best for their children. Choosing a center for your child is one of the hardest decisions you will make. From the facility to the staff, you have to scrutinize everything to make sure the place is to your liking.
To help you make this all-important decision, here are some seven tips in choosing the perfect childcare provider for your son or daughter.
The first tip is to get recommendations from other parents or your pediatrician. If you don’t know other parents, consider asking those you meet in your OB-GYN or pediatrician waiting room, the playground or a mommy-and-me class.
Most moms often start by asking for recommendations from their friends and family. You can also check around your neighborhood because convenience is a key factor.
Moreover, you can check online resources for childcare referral services or with the state regulatory agency.
It is also essential to take your time and call both current and former clients and find out if they and their kids had a good experience. Although it is tempting to rely on the providers’ letters of recommendations, it is not wise for it could be forged.
Set up a Meeting
The second tip is to interview the healthcare provider. You can screen childcare centers over the phone. In case you find that the staff isn’t forthcoming or if the hours are inconvenient, remove it from your list.
Although an interview through a phone call is more convenient, most of the time, you won’t get a sense of how a childcare center is until you physically go there and meet the staff and director.
By physically presenting yourself, you can inquire about everything from the caregivers and directors such as the hours, vacation schedule, fees, child-rearing philosophy as well as the centers’ policies.
Take Notice on Gentle Care
The third tip is to look below. Pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children when you’re visiting a potential site. Ideally, a caregiver should be holding a kid on her lap or on the floor playing with the kids.
In their early years, babies need close, loving, interactive relationships with adults to thrive. That’s why it’s especially important that babies’ first caregivers be warm and responsive, and that even in group care, infants and older babies get a healthy dose of one-on-one time.
Know the Curriculum
The fourth tip when searching for the right childcare center is to remember that the ideal one should have structured schedules and allow more time for physical activity, and include time for group programs, quiet time, meals, free-time, and individual events.
TV and videos shouldn’t be part of the child’s activities. However, if videos are part of the curriculum, you should ensure that they are appropriate for your child’s age. The ideal curriculum should stimulate the development of your child and make life more fun.
You should also choose a center that has a range of age-appropriate toys that can engage the child’s development as he or she gets older.
Check the Policies
The fifth tip is to find out whether you share parenting philosophies on topics such as discipline; television; feeding; sleeping; and so forth.
It is also vital to check on the center’s health policies, specifically the diet they implement to the children.
Unless you want to find yourself rushing your child to your usual dental clinic, it is essential to establish your stand on your child’s diet, especially when it comes to treats that the caregivers provide.
Moreover, inquire about the sick-child policy. Also, ask whether there’s a backup plan should the in-home caregiver or family day-care provider get sick and be unable to work.
Take note that the more questions you ask early on, the less likely you are to be unpleasantly surprised later.
The 6th tip in choosing a childcare center is to consider if it is a licensed facility. This means that you should inquire about your state’s licensing regulations and ensure that the provider qualifies and has no history of violations.
It’s equally important to investigate whether the provider is accredited by the relevant authorities such as the National Association for Family Child Care or the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The 7th and last tip is to drop in unannounced. While word-of-mouth referrals from other parents or trusted resources are essential, you need to look at a place for yourself to assess whether it meets your needs.
If possible, try to visit the same centers at different times of the day to get a sense of how the staff interacts with the children and what the routine is.
To see how things are going, you may want to consider popping in unannounced a few times after you’ve enrolled your child. Your visits will either be an assurance of a great decision or a real eye-opener.
When you finally choose your childcare center, know that You’re not married to a particular person or situation, and if things don’t work out, you can always make a switch.
Always choose what is best for your child and always remember that despite your busy schedule, you are your child’s primary caregiver. Along with the help of your well-chosen caregivers, your baby will flourish and grow into a happy, healthy child under your love and care.