There are 3,896,000 daycares in the United States alone. That means there are millions of wonderful caregivers ready and waiting to support you and your family! It also means you’ll have a big decision on your hands when it’s time to choose the best daycare center for your child.
Before you Google “daycare near me” and go with the first option you see, it’s best to do some research. Child care centers vary in many ways, from their philosophy on education to the training of their staff. Do you know what questions to ask when you take that first nerve-wracking tour of a brand new school?
We’ve created this guide to help you focus during your quest to choose the ideal childcare solution for your child! Keep reading to learn about what you should ask about during your search.
What Is the Program’s Philosophy?
When you begin your search, you’ll hear a few strange, foreign-sounding terms for daycare options. Terms like Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, Progressive, Play-based, or Forest Kindergarten can be confusing. These all refer to the educational philosophy of the daycare center or, in other words, what they believe about how small children learn.
Ask about the program philosophy right away and then do your research. Montessori schools for infants will have a very different vibe than a play-based program with less structure. You know best where your child will thrive, so use that information to make your decision.
What Is the Classroom Ratio?
By law, all daycare classrooms have a maximum child-to-teacher ratio. Remember that it’s a maximum, not a rule! Find out how much one-on-one attention your child will get each day.
Why is this important? Children’s language development takes off when they’re spoken to regularly! Their social skills grow by leaps and bounds when they have their needs met efficiently.
All that to say, a school where the teachers know your child makes a difference!
How Much Time Do Children Spend Outside?
Does the school have a playground? Is it a fully outdoor program that meets in the woods, rain, or sunshine? Children need to move and play, and an active child might have specific physical needs!
You might also want to ask about indoor gross motor space for cold or inclement weather days. When and where do children move during the school day?
Are Families Involved?
You don’t want to drop your child off and disappear completely! Find out how families participate in the day-to-day activities of the center. Is there an open-door policy or a live camera feed to the classroom?
Who Are the Teachers?
Some daycare centers require their staff to hold a CDA or higher to become a lead teacher. Others only look for a clean background check.
Ask about teacher credentials for a better understanding of who is caring for your child. Naturally, a teacher with a background in child education can make a huge difference for a child.
Find the Best Daycare for Your Family
Choosing a daycare is about more than selecting the building where your child will spend their day. It’s about choosing the team that will help you support your little one through delicate developmental stages. Take your time and ensure that you choose the best daycare for your family, not the cheapest or closest.
We’d like to help support your family, too! Check out the rest of the blog for more posts about raising children in the twenty-first century.