We always want what is good, better, and best for our children. But sometimes we must trust others to care for our children so that we can provide the necessities which our lives demand. For many parents, the day we realize we may have to consider a child care setting, guilt sets in. We swallow deeply, and feel beads of sweat on our foreheads… How can we trust perfect strangers to care for and teach our most precious pride and joy?
Over the past decade, our knowledge about the importance of the development of young children has increased tremendously. When choosing a child care facility, follow some simple tips to ensure you find the place that is right for you and your family:
- The search – look beyond the Internet
Your first instinct may be to hop on the Internet to start your search. Remember that websites can look wonderful and contain appealing information, but do not stop here – be sure to visit each center at least once in person.
- The power of word of mouth – ask your neighbors, friends, and family
Reading information online and calling early learning centers for information is helpful- but word of mouth is even better! What type of reputation does the center have within the community? Ask local moms about their experiences. (Mom’s always know best!)
- Be prepared for your visit
Be organized! Create a list on a small notepad of questions to ask or items to notice during your visit. Chances are, once you arrive to the center you will forget some of your questions. If you have them written down ahead of time, you will be sure not to leave any details unmentioned!
- Include your child in the visit
Your child should be a part of your visit, whenever possible, regardless of their age. When you visit the center, does the staff acknowledge and speak to your child? Remember children have a keen natural instinct!
- Visit MORE than once!
Narrow your search down to two choices, and visit each one again. Bring your child and ask to stay for a half hour to an hour to “try” the space with your child. Perhaps visiting during a different time of the day would give you another perspective of the center.
Daycare vs. early learning center – is there a difference?
Be sure to select a location that portrays solid foundations and philosophies in early learning. The facility should care for your child as well as expose him/her to early learning opportunities.
Click here for a helpful Quality Childcare Checklist.
Heather Grocott is the Director of The Children's Workshop in Lincoln, RI. She earned a BA from Providence College in Elementary and Special Education. She is pursuing a Master's Degree from Rhode Island College in Early Childhood education. Her true passion is not only working with children, but sharing knowledge with families and teachers in order to provide the best early learning experience for all young learners.