Daycare can be a sensitive subject for many parents. Nobody knows how to care for our children better than ourselves so trying to find someone else to take over that job for you can be very difficult. Lots of parents choose to stay home and take care of the kids but if you choose or need to return to work then daycare can be a very scary prospect. Obviously, you would want the best possible care for your child. However, because of financial and sometimes commuting reasons, this isn’t always possible. That’s not to say that you should just settle for whichever childcare setting is closest or cheapest. It is a decision that will have a direct effect on your child so it should not be taken lightly. Here are a few things you should look out for when choosing a childcare setting for your child.
Your child starting childcare marks a new stage of family life, and it will take some getting used to. You may worry about how your child will cope without you, and whether a carer will see to her needs as well as you do. Your child may take some time to adjust and it’s only natural if she misses you a bit at first.
It is a good idea to start searching for a place for your child as far in advance as possible. There are many benefits to this; not the least of which is that you can have your pick of places before they start to fill up. Daycare is much sought after so if you leave it until the last minute you may find yourself stuck with only limited hours available which can be very unhelpful for fitting around your working hours. Starting your search early will also give you the time to fully research all of your options which can be very beneficial.
Many different childcare settings will have brochures and information that can be mailed out to you and they will gladly do so if you just give them a call. It doesn’t matter how many settings you call. In fact, the more the better because you will be able to go through all of them with your child and really get them involved in the decision. This will make the prospect of going into childcare a lot less frightening for them.
Schedule a Visit
It is vitally important that you take a tour of each daycare you are considering and you should most definitely take your child along with you. This will give you both a chance to view the setting, see the facilities that they have, and get to know the staff who will be responsible for looking after your child. There are many things that you should take note of when having your tour, such as the child to adult ratio. If there are too many kids and not enough adults then the staff will be unable to give enough attention to each child and his or her needs.
Most states have different numbers when it comes to staff-child ratios. Make sure that you know what your state requires and then make sure that the center that you are looking at sticks to those ratios even during nap and/or break times.
Settling in Sessions
Once you have successfully chosen a daycare provider for your child and your required sessions have been accepted you should start to look at some settling in sessions for your child. No child will want to be just thrown in to daycare, particularly if they are not used to being away from you so the staff should be more than willing to arrange a few short sessions of around 3 hours or so where you can go into the setting with your child and play with them for a while so they get used to the routine. After a while, you should try leaving your child for an hour or so and see how he or she gets on. The last settling in session should involve you leaving your child there for the whole time and hopefully by this point he or she should be much more used to the environment and will be much happier about you leaving him or her there. It can be upsetting for a parent who has to leave his or her child, and many staff at good childcare centers will offer some sort of parental support also, if you are struggling with this you should ask about it.
Any good daycare center should have an open door policy, meaning that a parent should be able to just drop in at any time and see how the child is getting on, maybe even join in with some activities with him or her. This can be helpful for many parents who are anxious or unsure about how their children are getting on in the setting. You should also be able to schedule regular meetings with your child’s key worker; that is the person who is responsible for your child’s care in the setting. They should keep a record of events that happen and any milestones or achievements that are gained during their time in the setting.
Visiting and participating in events at your child’s provider sends a strong message. It tells your child and your child’s caregiver that you think what your child is doing and learning is important.
There may be other areas of interest or concern that you wish to raise with staff of any potential new daycare service for your child and they should be happy to answer any of your queries and concerns. They may also have different bits of information that you may find helpful. When it comes to choosing the right place for your child, your gut feeling is often correct. If a place feels wrong or you don’t think your child will be happy there then go with your feelings and look elsewhere. Your number one priority is the happiness and well being of your child. Happy children are healthy children.