Tips for Choosing and Evaluating a Great Child Care Centre

In today’s world, many families need both parents working in order to make ends meet. In fact, having either mom or dad stay home to care for children is a privilege. As not everyone has an extended family who can watch over their children while they work, daycare or child care centers are a necessity. 

There are probably plenty of child care centers that you can choose near your area of work. However, you will need to choose and evaluate the center according to the needs of your child and also, your family. 

What to look for when choosing a childcare center? 

Here are some things you definitely want to consider when choosing a child care provider that is suitable for you and your child. Remember that what may work for others may not work for you and that choosing a childcare center is a personal decision.

A well-wrapped tot

Is the child care environment safe? 

Kids are innocent and are drawn to everything around them especially hazardous things that may cause them a lot of trouble. It is your duty as a parent to see that the environment you leave your child is conducive.

Every child care center should have a list explaining the procedures and precautions they take to ensure children are safe. Also, see that you are comfortable with the answers given on departure and drop-off protocols.

Are licenses up-to-date? 

All organizations have different regulations and licensing requirements, but parents should know the requirements and whether they are up-to-date. 

Child care centers have extra credentialing options. Ask what criteria is used to evaluate. You can find this information online for a deeper understanding. If you decide to use someone who isn’t licensed, at least see they have basic CPR/aid training.

Ensure your childcare center is updated on the latest medical advice

Advice on how to take care of kids change every day with discoveries. See that your baby sitterchildcare center keeps abreast with the medical advice from the department of health. 

This includes factors such as the sleeping position of your child and crib safety. Ensure your caregiver follows the advice of pediatric associations. Child health is something you can’t afford to ignore as a parent.

Does your caregiver enjoy being around kids?

Credentials are essential. Every parent wants to see that the person they leave their kids with is well-trained and certified to take care of their kids. There are many factors to consider in child care options depending on the type of care. 

However, many parents also want to leave their kids with an individual who loves her job and sees it as a blessing. If you sense that your caregiver feels misplaced in the profession, and is there due to lack of an alternative; it might be a sign you need a new caregiver.

A happy kid playing with her dolls

Low child to caregiver ratio

Class size is an important factor especially when it comes to young children. In fact, the younger the age group, the lower should be the child to caregiver ratio. 

A low child to caregiver ratio means that teachers or caregivers will be able to pay attention to each child and therefore, ensure that each kid hits his/her developmental milestones. A low child to caregiver ratio also helps make sure that every child is safe and accounted for at all times. 

Low employee turnover

It’s best to choose a provider that has low employee turnover. High employee turnover might be a reflection of bad management, and this will sooner or later start to have an effect on your child. 

High employee turnover might also mean that the center is not really doing a good job of screening applicants and thus, hiring people who are not suitable. Your child should not have to keep having to get used to new teachers or carers. 

Check reviews

Before making your decision, you should also do a quick check on the reviews of the center. Take into account whether others have had a positive experience sending their child to the particular center. 

You may find that what you were shown in the center when you visited does not tally with the reviews that you read. Do take reviews with a grain of salt – one bad review and many good ones might be from an unreasonable parent. 

If you know someone who is sending their children to the same childcare provider, ask them what they like about the place and their experience with the center. 

What are your care giver’s back up for sickness? 

Parents take their kids to child care to be able to work. It, therefore, becomes a problem when a caregiver calls in sick. Well, no one wants to be sick; however, these are things that are bound to happen and alternatives should be planned for in advance.

For instance, in an institution, another teacher may replace the caregiver until they feel well, while a baby sitter can have someone else to take care of the kid when they are busy or unwell. As a parent, you should also take the initiative of informing your caregiver when your tot isn’t feeling well and won’t be attending child care.

If these cases are too much, and are beginning to worry about the well-being of your kid, enroll him/her in preschool where you are sure he/she is safe.

A happy baby playing with her care giver in a clean environment

All parents have a sixth sense that helps them in choosing their caregiver for their kid. While those thoughts and feelings should not be the only reason for choosing a baby sitter, they should be considered.

You want to feel confident about the personality and abilities of your child’s care provider. Spend some time with your caregiver and have few chats to see that your “parent radar” bonds perfectly with her.

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Evaluating a childcare center 

With the advertisement and the hype that child care centers have when convincing you why their child care is better than others, makes the child care sound like a small paradise. It is, therefore, normal for a parent to relax after choosing what they think is the best child care assistance center for their kid. 

However, it doesn’t stop at choosing the child care provider for your child. It is your duty as a parent to keep evaluating the child development & learning programme through your child’s performance. Here is what you should look into after a few months of the child in the care center:

How happy is your child? 

The core objective of every parent is to see that their tot is happy; class performance at this juncture is secondary. You want your child to be at a home away from home when they are with your caregiver.

Well, all kids have anxiety issues as they learn to adjust to the new settings. All the same, you should know how they feel by how they talk and the bond they have with their caregiver, their enthusiasm for the next class fun activities, their new friends, etc. If she is not talking about these things, it might be time to find her a new child care assistance program for them.

Are you satisfied with your tot’s learning and growth at the childcare center? 

Parents and experts have different opinions on the preschool enrollment of toddlers; some argue that as long as a child has fun-free play, social interaction, and all their basic needs are taken care of as well as safety precautions, they are good to go. 

On the other hand, other parents think having their children learn maths, different languages and other academic aspects should be inclusive in the child care center. Decide on what you need your child to achieve and ensure they are accomplishing it.

How well do you communicate with your childcare provider? 

Communication is key in every organization including a daycare institution. See that you pick a caregiver who has your style of communication. For instance, some parents require a daily report on their child’s eating and sleep behavior, while others only want to know about these things if anything is wrong.

Also, other parents will prefer a care provider with weekly themes such as wearing certain clothes on specific days, while it drives others crazy, see that you find a caregiver who matches your needs. The definition of quality care varies from one person to another.

Do care styles and discipline approaches match?  

There is no written way of what’s the wrong or right way to bring up a child; however, you want your child to be raised in a certain way. Make sure your baby sitter understands your expectations on discipline, religious observances, character development, and other emotional and social issues. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

A tot with her care giver

A toddler with her caregiver

Child care checklist

Here’s a quick checklist you can go through to help you decide if a particular childcare center is right for you and your child.

Before you visit the center

  • Check on the license and certification
  • Call and ask general questions such as operation hours, price, transportation, meals, policies on sick children

Questions you can ask during your visit

  • Qualifications of directors and teachers
  • Experience of directors and teachers
  • How will the center communicate with you about your child’s progress? 
  • What is the maximum class size? 
  • What is the teacher to student ratio? 
  • Ask for an example of how disruptive behavior is dealt with
  • Is there a parent handbook?

Things to look out for in the classrooms

  • Do the materials encourage play and learning? 
  • Art and writing materials
  • Pretend play area with age appropriate items
  • Science materials
  • Musical instruments
  • Puzzles
  • Blocks
  • Books

Things to look out for in the outdoor environment

  • Is there an outdoor play area? Is it shaded?
  • Is there daily outdoor playtime? 
  • Are the teachers/carers engaged with the children during outdoor play?

Things to look out for in teacher-child interactions

  • Are the children taken care of at all times? 
  • Does the teacher make eye contact with the children? 
  • Does the teacher listen to the children without interrupting? 
  • Does the teacher engage the children in active learning? 

Things to look out for in child to child interactions

  • Are the children allowed to move freely from one activity to another? 
  • Are children playing and learning together? 
  • Are the children encouraged to help each other and resolve differences? 

If you are looking to send your infant

  • Do the caregivers respond promptly to babies who are crying? 
  • Are babies placed on their backs to sleep? 
  • Is there tummy time? 
  • How are babies fed? Are they held when given the bottle? 

Things to look out for concerning meals provided

  • Are they nutritiously balanced? 
  • Will food be provided for all meals and break times or will you have to pack from home? 
  • What are the center’s policies on foods that may cause allergies such as nuts? 

After your visit

  • Trust your instincts
  • Observe your child’s reactions to the visit
  • Ask your child if he or she would like to play there
  • Ask them what they liked about the classroom and teachers

Final thoughts

Kids are precious and fragile. It is critical that we are cautious with who we let take care of them. Failure to evaluate your kid’s child care may lead to unwanted results that may lead to regrets later in life. Follow your gut instinct when choosing and evaluating your childcare provider. If you sense that something is not right, do not hesitate to look for a new provider.

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