Miss. Tracy gave our friends at The Rhode Show tips on finding the right child care for your children.
Choosing the right early learning center for your child can be one of the most difficult decisions that working families have to make for their children. It certainly can be a daunting task to think about for most new moms. So, where do you begin? Start by making a list and asking yourself some important questions.
Include these questions on your initial list…
Ask the Tough Question -Determine if you are going to return to work or if you are considering taking some extended time off. And try not to feel guilty with whatever decision you make. You need to do what works best for you and your family.
- Consider your work hours – What hours will you be working, are they flexible and would the job allow you to work some hours from home?
- Ask the childcare about flexibility with hours – What hours will you need each day and how many days will you need? Will Grandma/Grandpa (Family or friend) be watching them one or two days a week?
- Ask about drop off and pick up procedures – Who is going to be doing the drop off and pickups…
- Consider Location – Think about the location…do you want a center that is closer to work/school or home?
- Size of center – Do you want a corporate facility or a center that is smaller and has a homier feel?
- Affordability – What can you afford?
These are very important questions to ask yourself before you begin your search for an early learning center for your child.
How to choose a center…
Referrals – Word of Mouth – Once you have these initial questions out of the way…then start with the word of mouth referrals from your colleagues, co- workers, family and friends. These are the people’s opinions who you value the most in the world.
Positives/Negatives – Ask them about their experiences with their facilities. Really find out if they would recommend their early center to you and why? Also, don’t forget to ask them if there are things that they don’t like about the center…maybe about some of their policies, staff, cleanliness or curriculum?
Who knows better than a family that is already attending a center about the true ins and outs? But just because your friend or family member likes a center doesn’t mean that it will definitely be a right fit for you.
Things to consider… be prepared for your tour…
Comfort Level – Make sure you and your child feel comfortable and welcomed at the center during the tour
Ins and Outs of Curriculum – Ask about their curriculum…
Staff Qualifications – Are the staff qualified…do the teachers have degrees in early childhood
License & Accreditations – Is the center accredited?
Classroom & Behavior Management – Talk to staff and Director about how they manage behavior
Maintenance & Cleaning procedures – Consider the cleanliness of the center…who and how is the center cleaned each day?
Developmentally Appropriate Practices – Children should have access to a variety of learning experiences, age appropriate equipment and centers throughout the classroom.
Be prepared – The list of questions can be endless…so come prepared. Bring a list of questions of all the things that are important to you in an early learning environment. Don’t forget because it is hard to remember once you get to the center. Also, take good notes so you can revisit when you are trying to compare all the centers that you visit.
Why should you visit more than one center…
It is very important to visit more than one early learning center. Don’t settle for the first center you visit. There are so many facilities out that that vary in so many ways. They may have different philosophies; curriculum, different ratios and some are large or small facilities. Really take the time to investigate all types of centers before you settle on the one that is the perfect fit for your family. In the end only you know what will work best for your family.
Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI. Besides overseeing sites she has also managed successful fundraisers including golf tournaments, developed and given countless training sessions, and served on boards and committees. Tracy is currently one of the faces of The Children’s Workshop appearing on segments of “The Modern Parent” on Fox Providence’s morning television show, The Rhode Show. In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.