Deciding to send your child to a day care center is easier said than done. With so many options available, it might get confusing to choose the right center for your little one. Wondering how to find the best day care center for your kid? Here are some handy tips that can help you in your search.
1. Research Well
Always ask for recommendations from family, friends, neighbors, other parents in the park and even your pediatrician. Research as much as you can, as you will be leaving your kid in the day care center for several hours. Check online resources for child care referral services and also check in with your state agency. Try to shortlist popular or well-known day care centers that have been running for several years, as their experience allows them to anticipate and meet the needs of both the parents and their kids.
2. Shortlist as per Requirement
Always shortlist the day care center as per requirement. Consider distance, timing and facilities among other things to choose the perfect day care center for your little one. For instance, choosing a center that is near your workplace, en route or close to home, will work best for both you and your child due to its convenience. Additionally, do check if your company offers corporate day care services.
3. Visit the Day Care Center
To make the right choice, always visit the day care center to experience it in person. The environment of the center should be bright, clean, fun and welcoming. Look around and check if the place is clean and organized. Also, ensure that they have enough place for kids to walk and run around.
Make sure to take note of the activities they offer, and if they have a designated area for sleeping. The outdoor play area as well as its safety measures also play a crucial role in choosing the right day care center for your kids. If possible, drop by unannounced to get a clear picture of the center and if it doesn’t permit unannounced visits, it would be best to strike it off your list.
Do not hesitate to ask questions about their fee structure, waiting list, accreditation, child care philosophy, experiences, etc. Clear all your doubts to make an informed decision and you will be left with only the best on your shortlist.
4. Observe Kids and Caregivers at Day Care Center
Use your keen observation skills to see whether the other kids at the center are happy and enthusiastic around their caregivers. In a good day care center, you would see kids enthusiastically running around and participating in various activities. If a center relies heavily on screen time to engage the kids, it is best to avoid it. Screen time should be limited and should only be used for educational purposes.
5. Well-Qualified Caregivers
Since your kids will be spending most of their time in the center, learning and engaging in new activities, make sure that the caregivers are licensed and certified in the field.
Also, take note of the teacher-to-child ratio to ensure your kids are under supervision throughout the day, even while sleeping. It is advised to have one caregiver per three to four infants or young toddlers. As the children grow older, the number of kids per caregiver goes up, so one caregiver can take charge of four to six older toddlers or six to nine preschoolers.
6. Age-Appropriate Curriculum
Curriculum may vary from center to center, but it must fit the requirements of the child. It doesn’t matter if the day care is play-based, Montessori-based or follows some other child care philosophy, the center should cater to the changing needs of kids as they grow older.
For instance, a Montessori-based center should have all types of activities needed for a specific age group, starting from arts and crafts to sensory activities other than the quintessential academics. If not, then consider opting for another day care center for your child.
Finding the best center might seem like a task, but with these tips, you can easily find the perfect one that caters to your kid’s needs.