Not all day care centers are created equally, which you may already realize if you’re a busy parent with a need for someone to watch your children during the day. This has little to do with price in many cases – sometimes the most expensive facilities are no better than the least expensive facilities. So how do you find a day care center that is right for your family? Here are a few tips:
- Look for a center with lesson plans for older children.
All children should have the chance to simply play, but day care facilities that simply allow children to run amuck aren’t as good as day care facilities that provide a bit of structure. Your kids should be learning the skills you’d want them to learn with you at home, such as colors, the alphabet, sharing, and hand-eye coordination. Structure can also be extremely soothing for children, so look for a center that has a daily routine for napping, playing, and meals.
- Ask to see teacher qualifications.
By law, day care centers have to perform checks on their teacherrs and aides. However, many cut corners. When considering enrolling your child, ask to see this paperwork, which shoudl include a full background check. Don’t take it for granted that the facility knows who has been hired.
- Look for a separation of children by age.
Every state has different laws as to how many children a single teacher can watch. Typically, this number is lower based on age. However, some facilities combine kids into a single room instead of splitting them. The best facilities have at least three or four different rooms by age group (and ability level). Splitting kids up this way allows them to thrive, since they get more age-appropriate education and attention.
- Stop by randomly with no warning.
You don’t have to announce when you’ll be coming and going. You can (and should) show up early occassionally to see how things are going when the teachers are not expecting you. Teachers may act one way when you’re around and completely differently when you’re not.
- Listen to your children.
Even a toddler knows when something is wrong. Take everything that a two-year-old says with a grain of salt, but don’t neglect listening to your kids. If your child seems anxious or upset at the mention of going to day care, there might be some underlying issues.