I think it’s no secret to say that choosing a place, or person, to look after your child while you are at work is one of the most painful, stressful and exhausting processes! I know it has been for me!
Luckily, I’m not looking at daycare’s out of necessity, I’m mostly just looking for Hayden to be able to socialize with kids her age, form friendships and expand her mind! So it’s not something I need/want daily. After touring our first facility, I quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing.
Before touring our next facility, I wrote down our basic needs..
Are you looking for full time?
Are you looking at someone’s private home?
Or are you looking for just a standard daycare?
Where they love and nurture your child but it’s mostly just supervising and playtime? Or do you want more of a learning based curriculum?
I chose an establishment based daycare rather than an at-home daycare or in my home daycare because I felt like an actual “company” daycare would have more of a “quality controlled” environment. So I crossed in-home daycare off.
My list of “must have” requirements
• Flexible Schedule – many establishments require a minimum day of 2 or 3 days per week. For someone like me, this doesn’t work. I am only looking for 1 day a week… Maaaaybe working into 2 days. But I want the option. Not some handbook telling me I have to.
• Healthy Meal Plan – pizza bites and ritz crackers daily are not ok with me! Are you aloud to substitute out something you don’t want your babe having with something from home?
• Teacher/ Teacher Turnover – I don’t want a different teacher every couple months. Or multiple “fill in” teachers. Ask how long the teachers have been there. Ask to speak with the teacher, after all, that is who your babe is gonna be with. Is she warm and friendly? Because really, you’d be surprised. Watch how she interacts with the kids? How does she handle melt downs? Or Runny noses?
• Security – how easy is it to get into the facility? Do you have to enter a code at the door? How about on the classrooms? Are the knobs raised? That being said? How easy is it to get out?? – I toured a facility where a little girl (the receptionists little one) freely walked in and out of the littler babies rooms.. And no one batted an eye. My little monster is quick, she would have been out and in the hallway in a half a second.
• Activities/Classroom – what kind of curriculum do they have? Are they a mostly play based school? Crafts? Projects? I want Hayden focus on educational activities at daycare, sensory items and not just have Disney movies on and little tyke toys. What does the classroom look like? If your babe is young, like mine, how’s the flooring? (Yes, I saw a 1 year old room with tile in it, like, really?) Are the rooms colorful? What kinds of toys do they have? I, personally, like when they have the kids art work all over the place!
• Price – now for me price isn’t a huge issue. Not because I’m loaded or anything but because she’s only going 1 day a week. That being said, look at their pricing and their absent/holiday/vacation policy. I.E. At some daycares if the day your child goes to daycare falls on a holiday that they are closed, you still have to pay. If you go on vacation. You still pay. If they are sick and you keep them home, you still pay. Now while I understand why they do this (you’re paying for your child’s spot in the class, because there are children to teacher ratios) I’m still not ok with paying for something I’m not actually getting. Some daycares will let you make up a day, come on a different day or work something out with you. So ask.
• Availability – because of their ratios you need to make sure there is room in the class your child will be in. Obviously. And if there isn’t room and you really liked the place, is there a waiting list you can be put on? Also, what’s their availability like if you have to drop off on a different day besides your scheduled one? Because let’s face it, things happen and it’s nice to have that option!
A couple extra, not so “deal breaking” questions I had…
How do they feel about parents helping in the class? I for one would love to hang out with Hayden in her class for a little while, or help out with activities. If parents are aloud in the classes, are they screened? Background checked?
What is included in their pricing? Diapers? Wipes? Both? How many meals/snacks are included? Milk?
Do they give daily report card on what your child did that day? I found one that did weekly photos and videos too, which I thought was great! Oh, and one had webcams too!
What determines a child from moving one class to the next? Development? Strictly age? Does their entire class move all at once? I wasn’t a fan of the ones that moves kids strictly by their age. Didn’t really make sense to me. And a couple moved the whole class together to keep their friends together.. which is cute and a nice thought. But I think it’s more important to move a child based on development.. not because their friends are moving classes.
After touring 10+ daycares I decided to create a spreadsheet so that I could see all of my opinions right in front of me. (View that daycare spreadsheet.) After filling out my spreadsheets we settled on the 2nd daycare we toured. It’s a brand new facility, great teachers, wonderful classrooms, excellent curriculum and activities, flexible (enough) schedule and I’m so excited for Hayden to start meeting new friends 🙂
How was choosing your child’s daycare for you? What kinds of questions did you ask?
xo, One Nervous Momma