Hand picked: How to choose the best daycare for your child
Finding the right daycare provider for your child can be a challenge. It can be even more overwhelming if you are a new parent looking at daycares for the first time ever. The reason why it is so hard is because there is an ocean of things out there to consider. How far is it from work? How many teachers are there? What happens if my child gets sick? Naturally, with all these considerations, it may be difficult to find a clear path to follow in your decision making process.
To aid you in this process, we have put together a guide to make sure you don’t forget to ask very important questions. Remember, every family and child is different so make sure you modify these questions to your specific needs.
Grouped into 5 categories, here are the most important questions to consider when choosing your daycare provider.
Top Questions to Ask at Your Daycare Tour
First and foremost you want to ensure your child will have access to proper care every day and in the event of an emergency. Be specific. Ask if the teachers are CPR certified and how often they receive regular training. How far away is the nearest hospital?
How about the procedures for fire drills? Is there separate shelter for the children to go to in case of a real fire?
Ask about the drop off and pick up schedule and procedures regarding someone other than the primary caregiver picking up or dropping off your child. Review the security door and check in and out policies.
During the tour, pay attention to the cleanliness of the various surfaces, toys, and especially the kitchen. What are the facility’s policies regarding hand washing, cleaning, and sanitation of surfaces? When it comes time to tour the kitchen, ask questions about food preparation and storage.
Side note: If you anticipate sending food/drinks with your child, ask about the policy for bringing labeled food and bottles/sippy cups.
Child Care Plan, and Discipline Policy
Once you have established your child will be in a safe and clean environment, the next most important element is education and guidance. In terms of curriculum, discuss the program activities and learning goals. Does the program seem to “fit” your child? How often are the children given opportunity for active play versus quiet activities? How does the program encourage socialization? Also be sure to ask about the structure of the lessons.
Side note: When asking questions about education and care, be specific to what your child needs. For example, if your child isn’t potty trained yet, ask about the potty training procedures.
The daycare will take your place as caregiver when you are away. In terms of care style, ask questions to ensure your at-home rules are being reinforced. Not only does this assist you in your parenting style, but it also ensures your child will feel secure in this new setting. If routines and procedures are too different, they may not feel comfortable to explore and expand. What are the feeding and sleeping schedules? What is the tv watching policy? How about the disciplinary policy?
Teacher Child Ratio
This one ties into the safety and education categories above, however it is important enough that is merits its own paragraph. Catering to your child’s learning style and ensuring they will be cared for in a timely manner, make sure you ask about how many teachers are available. What is the ratio between children and teachers? Depending on the age of your child, the amount of teachers available can be a make or break. At Little Lukes, we offer a caregiver for every 4 to 5 infants, waddlers and toddlers, a caregiver for every 7 to 9 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, and for school aged children a caregiver is assigned for every 10 to 15 children.
Daycare Sick Policy
Before you choose a daycare center, make sure you discuss the daycare’s sick policy. First things first, make sure there is a clear plan in place. If not, move on immediately.
Once you know there is a plan, discuss it with the center representative. What are the details of the policy? What happens if you are in a pinch and you aren’t able to pick your child up if need be? Will you be charged for the days your child isn’t at daycare? All of these are very important questions to be asking.
Little Lukes Preschool and Childcare Center
Little Lukes is a leading Syracuse daycare provider with five preschool locations. The early education program includes credentialed and caring staff that specializes in comprehensive infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten development. Additional services include pediatric speech therapy, pediatric physical therapy and pediatric occupational therapy. Preschool locations include Dewitt (East Syracuse), Baldwinsville (Radisson), Oswego, Fulton, and Pulaski.
For information about Little Lukes, please contact us at www.littlelukes.com/contact.html