Leaving your child at daycare for the first time can be tough. Whilst you know it’s good for them to interact with other children and get the various other benefits of child care, it can still be hard to let go. And of course, it’s even harder to make that first drop off if you’re not 100% sure you’ve picked the right place for your kid. So if you’re having trouble deciding on daycare or early learning center for your child, here are some key questions to ask yourself before making your selection.
Where is it located?
Whether you’re sending your child to daycare in order for you to go back to work or you’re sending them for the developmental benefits, it’s important to find a place that can fit around your schedule. A key factor to consider here is location. Is there parking nearby for pick up and drop off? Is it close to your home? Many people choose to send their children to a daycare center close to their workplace, but if this is far from where you actually live, you may be better off selecting one close to your home so that you and your child can begin to build a local network of children and parents.
What qualifications do they have?
It’s important for you to feel assured that your child is in safe and capable hands. So when you’re looking at daycare centers, take a look at the qualifications and experience the staff has to ensure that they are fully qualified for the job.
Do they have a child development program?
Whilst the main thing to consider is the safety and wellbeing of your child, a child care center should also provide a full service that helps to encourage their development and learning. A good daycare center will have a variety of child care development programs designed to provide a holistic approach to your child’s progress. From music, art and language programs through to school readiness, there are plenty of things you should look for in a daycare center other than bog-standard babysitting.
Do they have a nutrition program?
Nutrition isn’t just about eating healthy food. It’s about giving children the knowledge and tools they need to build a healthy relationship with food as they grow. Many daycare centers have robust nutrition programs and some even have on-site gardens where the children can help to grow to produce. These are fantastic options but if you don’t have access to these kinds of facilities, you want to make sure at the very least that they are given healthy and nutritious food every day.
What kind of facilities do they have?
Children get enormous benefits from playing and interacting in all sorts of different settings. The best centers will, therefore, have both indoor and outdoor facilities made of various natural materials where your child can explore and develop a sense of curiosity.
How did you feel when you visited?
A gut feeling can go a long way. A daycare center can tick all the boxes on your list, but if you didn’t have a good feeling about the place when you visited, it’s not the right place for you. So ask yourself how you felt when you visited. Did you like the staff? Did you feel safe in the environment? Did you like what you saw? Don’t be afraid, to be honest with yourself, and if you’re unsure and want a second visit, just ask for one. The right-center for you will understand that this is a big decision and will welcome the chance to put your mind at ease with a second visit.
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing a childcare center. Before picking a place, make sure you visit at least once and ask plenty of questions. Good places will be used for these kinds of questions and should have answers ready for you. And, of course, at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to trust your instinct and go with your gut!