While selecting a daycare for your child you need to ask a number of questions and have deep observations. Begin your quest for daycare six months prior you need it (as the finest centers get filled quickly). The underlying list of criteria will guide you through the process. Well, in case you find one center perfectly scoring ten, you have hit the target.
Definitely, this is an astounding goal; as only around 7,000 daycares are accredited with the highest standards by the National Association for the Education of Young children (NAEYC). Thus, you have to first consider the vital thing for you and then choose the best one. According to BabyCenter mom Laura Mason of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, "For us it was location, location, location," She also says "We wanted a daycare within walking distance of work, since our son is breastfed and won't take a bottle."
You must try to get:
A reputed one
Some of the basic criteria for a good daycare are its inviting and friendly atmosphere. Take the names, contacts of their present clients and contact them for feedback. You can also wait till pickup time and get hold of the parents then. Be careful towards your first impression: it really matters in such cases.
Summary- If being parents there is no respect and enthusiasm in you about the center, then you would never grow a liking for them.
Stable rules and regulations
A vital thing for a centre is its flexibility like the picking and dropping times of your child, but along with this, there should also be some clear and stable rules related to operating time and process of handling emergency situations. All the policies of the center must be provided to you in written form. Through this you would clearly understand that the center takes its duties quite gravely.
Search for a center coming with a stern sick-child policy. Know about the diseases that are not permitted in the center and also the time duration of leave. Though, it's sensible to keep sick children away, but too much harsh rule may sometimes cause inconvenience for your sick child. Great centers control these problems arising from illness by making immunizations and necessary checkups mandatory.
In case the centers don't have an open involvement with the parents and tend to keep them aloof from their matters- there are possibilities of something suspicious. Carry on with your search.
A good center will not only invite and welcome you with open arms to be a member of the center's community, but also involve you in various activities like accompanying the kids on their field trips etc.
Summary: A poorly organized center with slack and unreal rules is not the right choice for your kid.
An interesting and creative curriculum
In a good daycare center there are well-designed schedules including a sumptuous time for physical activities, silent reading time (group and individual reading sessions everyday), individual and group programs, meals and leisure.
In your child's daily activities there should be a little or zero part of TV and videos; suppose included, they should be appropriate to their age with some educational values such as animal stories, culture etc. Certainly, the development of your child is highly stimulated by a nicely developed curriculum that fills his daily life with fun.
While searching try to get a center with a varieties of suitable toys for all age groups that encourages your kid's development by stimulating unique and innovative plays out of them. You can check the list of the best toys given by us for every age group.
Summary: Actually, what is required by your child is a place offering a consistent curriculum and other suitable activities.
An experienced and loving staff
One benefit of daycare centers more than nannies and other home daycare providers is that they have a qualified and experienced staff having specialized education. It is a must for the daycare center employees to be educated, a minimum of two years education in college, education in early childhood development (not required by most states), and training in CPR, pediatric first-aid training etc. (It is very easy to get a license in many states and countries if the daycare employees have training in CPR, emergencies and early childhood education).
Observe the interactions of the staffs with the children. They must be energetic, dependable and prepared for all situations. Try to find out such a staff whose views regarding discipline, sleep and child feeding and caring matters are similar to you. It is obvious for a nice caregiver to ask you about the health and care of your child in order to guide you in deciding the proficiency of their center.
Always keep in mind to choose a center with a good number of staffs so that your child may not face any problem in getting the required attention and care. Often the ratio between the caregivers and the children differs due to the group size. Some of the guidelines set by NAEYC are as follows:
In case of babies, if there are six infants in a group then the ratio should be one caregiver to every six children, whereas in groups with eight babies there should be one caregiver for every four babies.
In case of toddlers between 12 to 28 months, the ratio for six children group is 1:3 and with eight children the ratio is 1:4.
With children of age group ranging from 21 to 36 months, there must be a ratio of 1:4 for eight children group, whereas 1:5 in a ten children group and 1:6 with a 12 children group.
For 30 to 48 months children, the ratio must be 1:6 with a group of 12 children, 1:7 with a 14 children group, 1:8 in case of a 16 children group and a ratio of 1:9 with an 18 children group.
With 4 to 5 years old children, there must be a ratio of 1:8 in case of a 16 children group and 1:10 with a 20 children group.
Keep in mind that the centers should not necessarily follow the guidelines of the NAEYC's, so enquire the center about their ratio and then come to the best decision. Usually, a great center maintains small groups of children regardless of the number of caregivers in order to promote child development.
You must get hold of such a center that provides all kinds of facilities to their staffs. The centers, whose employees are well-paid, gets vacation leave, health insurance, education allowances, generally get regular and consistent caregivers. The fact that ensures a consistent and serious care of your child is the low turnovers of the centers.
Summary: Always remember a center with untrained, inconsistent and overworked staffs is not the right option for you.
Most of the daycare centers have some guidelines regarding the food carried by the children. Good daycare centers are very strict and they want children should carry only nutritious food. But, there are many centers that do not impose any restriction on carrying chocolates or any other unhygienic foods. Those centers are undoubtedly, least bothered about the well being of your children.
Parents need to go through the food chart very nicely and make sure that the chart must contain all kinds of nutritious foods in proper proportion. Parents need to know the details of the food items that are to be served during the meals (make sure that the daycare centers know about your child food allergies).
Make sure that the center is serving all nutritious food to your child and in case it is lacking somewhere, don't forget other centers are there with better facilities.
Hygienic, protected services
Parents need to make sure that the center maintains cleanliness and hygiene at the highest order. Toilets, kitchens, floors should be cleaned at regular basis. There should be proper hygienic arrangements for garbage disposal. Kitchens should not be close to wash room and the building should be well ventilated and there must be adequate sunlight in every room. Most importantly, the staff must be hygienic and must wash hands after every diaper change and before giving food to your child.
NAEYC's outlined guidelines for daycare centers are that there should be 35 square feet of indoor space and 75 square feet of outdoor space per child. So, make sure whether the centers fulfill these criteria or not.
Parents need to be careful regarding the safety measures of the centers. Toys should be soft and in good condition, windows must be covered with bars, first aid box must contain all the necessary things and kept beyond the reach of the children, the beddings has to be firm in order to avoid chances of SIDS for infants. The outside play ground should not be rough and irregular.
All emergency equipments must be maintained and in proper place, radiator and heater should be protected and covered, fire extinguisher and first aid box should be near reach and all childproofing techniques like covered outlets, safety exits must be maintained. The center should be well guarded so that no stranger can simply walk into the premises.
Parents must make sure that the center must have enough space for outdoor play. There should be adequate arrangements for running, jumping to improve your children physical and mental health. But, sometimes it's not possible for the centers to have an outdoor playing space but parents can make sure that the center should fulfill that gap through indoors.
NAEYC has given some guidelines to daycare centers to make sure that the centers fulfill most of that. The license and credentials also need to be approved by the stern recommendation system of NAEYC. Moreover, parents can search for NAEYC's database for complete information about the guidelines stated by NAEYC.
It is also important for you to see whether the centers fulfill the criteria of state licensing regulations for health and safety. As we know, license is not the only proof of quality. Thus, the parents also need to check the ground reality of the facilities by assessing the caregivers themselves as some states do not require license for opening such centers.
Summary: Definitely, having a license is not the only thing that matters for you; still you shouldn't go for a center devoid of a license.