Finding the right day care can be a stressful experience for a parent. We want our children to have the best care, be loved, be safe, and learn in a nurturing environment. Once you decide that day care is what you need, the search begins! I’m sure I looked at almost every day care in my area. I asked my friends for advice. I compared brochures. The process can be overwhelming! Here are 12 things to watch for when looking for daycare.
- Who cleans and when? Most teachers or day care professionals should wipe up their rooms and clean up messes as the day progresses. But who cleans the entire room? Who mops the floors? Is it a cleaning service or are the teachers responsible for doing it themselves? Do they clean after hours? Before hours? During the day? I personally don’t like my daughter being around cleaning products. Kids just put too much in their mouths and rub their eyes. If the staff starts cleaning with harsh chemicals (to kill germs) and you are still in the classroom, I don’t like it.
- How many teachers per child? Does the student to teacher ratio match state regulations? The rules change per age and state. If the rule is 4 kids per teacher, yet you regularly see 6 kids in a room, there might be an issue. Note that you can love a teacher and think they are great, but one person can only do and see so much at a time. The regulations are there for a reason.
- Do any of the teachers smoke? It may feel uncomfortable to ask but your child’s safety is of the utmost importance. Third Hand Smoke can be very damaging for young babies and children. If you forget to ask, did you smell smoke? I once visited a place that was immaculate but I could smell the smoke on the teacher’s clothes. No thank you.
- Is there curriculum or do the kids just play all day? Do you see books? Never think your child is too young to learn. Their brains are sponges and studies show that the first three years are vital to a child’s development. Do the kids have a curriculum? Even babies need scheduled tummy time and play time to develop properly. Do they simply feed the kids and let them play or are they actively teaching the children their letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and more? It’s helpful if the school reinforces what you are teaching at home.
- Do the toys and books look clean? It doesn’t matter if the floors are clean if the toys are dirty! Toys need to be cleaned regularly. Many kids touching the same toys over again means germs, germs, and more germs. Do the toys look like they have been wiped down or are they sticky and yucky? Do the toys look old and worn? Old toys break. Broken toys can be a choking hazard.
- Is food provided? If so, what kind? Who cooks it? How fresh? Are the kids eating the same thing every day or is there a variety of food? Do they provide healthy options? Are the kids given fruit and vegetables? If the school does not provide food, this option does not apply.
- Do they let children watch TV or movies? If so, how often? I don’t like it when a day care facility has television in each room. You can watch TV at home. I don’t need to pay people to have you watch TV. I want you building your social skills, having fun experiences, and learning new things. TV or a movie every once in a while is fine, but absolutely not every day.
- Is there an outside play space? One of the things I love about your current day care is the outside space. You love being outside so it was important for me that your day care have an outside area for you to run around. Is the outside space covered with mats or grass? Is it covered with concrete? Falling is inevitable and I’d prefer you not coming home bruised. You currently go outside every day (weather permitting) and I can tell that you love it.
- If the child is not walking yet that means crawling. Do they allow shoes? Is there a blocked off area where it is safe for a baby to crawl and not get dirty? I went to one day care where there was no floor space. The little babies were all in cribs, swings, or bouncers. There was no space for tummy time or for you to just stretch out. You did not enroll there.
- Where is the diaper changing area? What does it look like? Is it hidden or out in the open? I visited one day care where the changing area was in a back closet area. Um, excuse me. I do not want anyone pulling my child’s diaper down in a closet. I want it in an open space where people can see what is happening. Maybe they thought it would be nice to give the kids privacy. I disagree.
- How do they potty train if at all? What does the bathroom look like? Some day care centers have portable potties (which is fine). Others have small toilets, while others put the children on adult toilets. I don’t think there is any wrong or right way here just be aware so that when potty training begins, you can adjust to whatever hurdles you may encounter.
- Are there a lot of teenagers working there? How many certified teachers? Sometimes day care centers cut costs by hiring kids and not certified teachers. They may have one or two certified teachers and the rest are kids watching kids. I prefer a certified day care center and not a baby sitting depot. If I wanted a teenager to watch you, I could have hired one from my family. Not that teenagers aren’t sweet, I just find they just let the kids play all day. You will be safe, but you will not learn anything.
- Does the school pay the teachers well? This may be hard to find out but search online if you can. (Don’t ask though. That would be rude.) I found out at one daycare the teacher was working three jobs to make ends meet. How can the teacher actively watch and engage with your child if they are exhausted? If a day care treats their workers well, the workers then tend to treat the children well.
- Read the reviews of the day care center. Is there a recurring theme? Are there mainly good reviews? If there is a bad review, what is it about? You have to pay attention to everything but follow your gut. If something feels wrong, don’t send your kid there!
- Treat the teachers well! I can’t reiterate this enough. Be nice to the teachers who watch your most prized possession! Show them that you are thankful for their work. Appreciate them.
After all, teachers see your most beloved possession more during the day than you do. Shouldn’t you thank and appreciate them for it?