As a parent, you want to spend as much time with your children as you can. However, you, like many other parents, may need to work to support your family, requiring that you place your children in day care centres. Therefore, you probably want an affordable, high-quality care facility that is not too far out of the way of your drive to and from work. These are a few things you should look for in a quality day care centre.
When you walk into the door of your prospective family day care centres, look around. Are the children happy and playing? Do they seem to engage easily with the staff? Are they comfortable? Do they seem at ease with making personal choices? Watch how the staff encourages the children. Do they respect each child’s interests and ideas? Do they listen to the children?
Does the facility feel homey? Look for age-appropriate toys and teaching materials. Make sure there is plenty of room for your children to play and learn. Does the environment contain things that will interest your children? Finally, consider whether you can see your children in the space interacting with the staff and other children.
You may want your children to have child-led learning environments or a more structured, school-like learning environment. It is important to observe children in both of these environments to determine which will work best for your family. Then, look for a daycare that fits. Excellent day care centres focus more on learning and will invest in these types of materials. Therefore, ask about the time the children spend in front of a television or playing videos or games.
First, find out about the centre’s licensing and accreditation. Speak with the staff to determine their teaching credentials and styles. They should also have child care credentials, so ask about their certifications and training. Look for centres whose staff have degrees in childhood development or teaching. The staff may also be in the process of obtaining such degrees, but they should have completed at least two years of college.
Observe the teachers and caregivers carefully. Watch their interactions with their students, including their body language. They should treat each child with respect and have the ability to balance your children’s interests with their education and learning outcomes. Seek staff that wants to partner with you as your children learn and grow.
Just like your home, you want your daycare to be a safe environment. This means that common safety measures need to be present. For example, does the centre have covers on their outlets? Are the cribs and beds located away from windows and their coverings? Are stairs blocked off? Look for small objects that could be choking hazards and toxic substances that are not secured. Also, discuss the centre’s food safety procedures. Look at the toys. Are they clean and whole?
You should also analyse the staff. Is the ratio of child to caregiver low? How many children is each caregiver responsible for? Find out if the same ratio is observed every day. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children states that infants and toddlers should have one caregiver per four or fewer children, while preschool-aged children can have a group size of six children per caregiver.
Review the centre’s employment turnover rate. If the day care has a high rate, ask why. Then, speak with the staff about their views and the policies of the centre. Learn what you can about why the staff leaves the centre. Look for those with low turnover because this suggests that they not only care about the children, but they also care about the staff.
The process may take time, but you can find an excellent day care centre that will allow your children to learn and grow in a comfortable environment with caring staff.