Should you choose in-home care, a nanny, a baby sitter, daycare, infant care, childcare, early childhood development, nursery school, preschool? The options seem endless. Finding what is right for you and your family is very rewarding. It doesn’t really matter what type of care they call it. It’s the people and the curriculum that create the program. So what’s right for you?
You won’t really know until you start visiting places that interest you.
To get started, create a list of places you’d like to see and develop a basic idea of what you are looking for. Google, ask friends, neighbors, co-workers. You’re sure to find advice. It’s important that you don’t let others make the decision for you.
No matter what kind of childcare you are considering, look for care providers who:
- Are kind and responsive. Good care providers enjoy being with children, are energetic, patient and mature enough to handle crises and conflicts. Have experience working with young children and like them. Find out how long the providers have worked with preschoolers, why they are in the child-care field and whether they provide activities that are appropriate for your child’s age. Observe the providers with other children. Do the children seem happy? How do the providers respond to them?
- Recognize the individual needs of children. Look for care providers who are considerate of different children’s interests and needs and who can provide your child with enough attention.
- Have a child-rearing philosophy that is similar to your own. Find out what kind of discipline the providers use and how they handle problems.
Be certain that the childcare facility is clean and safe. Check to see that it is full of equipment and materials that will allow your child to explore and learn, including plenty of books and separate areas of different kinds of activities.
When you visit preschools ask:
- What is the preschool’s philosophy and how is it implemented?
- How will I know how my child is doing? How do you keep parents informed? Can I call, email, visit, chat at drop off & pickup time? Are more formal meetings or conferences available?
- How can I be involved? Can I drop in anytime? Hang out? Read stories? Help in the classroom? Do I have to be involved?
- How do you discipline children?
- What will my child do on a typical day? What’s the class schedule of activities?
- What are the backgrounds and education of the teachers? How long have they been teaching? How long have they been teaching at your school?
- Can I speak with currently enrolled families? Do you have a reference list?
When you speak to parents ask:
- Is your child happy at the school? How has your child developed in the school? Does he talk about what he did or learned at school with excitement?
- Is it easy to communicate with teachers, directors, owners?
- Do your concerns get addressed timely?
- Do you set up play dates with other children in the school? Do you know other parents?
- How does the school communicate with you? Is there a newsletter?
- Can parents volunteer? Are their opportunities for parents to help out in the classroom? Do parents have to volunteer or participate in fundraises?
- Are you glad your child goes to school here? Do you recommend it?
- What would you like to see improved at the school?
Think about what is important to you. Do you want a facility that is open and bright? A staff that is cheerful and caring? A corporate owned business? A family run preschool? Certified teachers? Teacher written lesson plans? Opportunities for your involvement? You’ll know exactly what you want when you find the right place.