Yay! I thought that since this blog is a newbie I would be a loss for emails and questions. Not so!!
I received an email from a mom struggling with a daycare situation. She is returning to work after being a SAHM for the past year and finding a great child care center for her little one has proved to be a trying process.
Let me start by saying YOU ARE IN CONTROL!!! This is YOUR child and YOU know best. Go into any center with the confidence that YOU are the expert on your child.
With that said, finding care for an infant or toddler is indeed difficult. I always told my clients to interview and tour at least three centers or preschools. While touring any child care facility you should be utterly prepared, meaning you should show up with a notebook including questions, a place to jot down notes, and a folder to organize any paperwork the center sends you home with.
Also, do your research! Leave no stone unturned! "Google" the centers you are touring. You will find parent reviews, any press releases that could contain helpful info, etc. By researching a school you can usually rule out any center that would be a waste of time. Upon reading said reviews you may discover it is not a center you wish to see, or you may decide the reviews do not concern you. Either way, you are prepared.
Some questions to consider while viewing a center -
First and foremost, *What curriculum do they utilize?*
This is such an important question that MANY parents never even bother to look into. A center's curriculum is the basis upon which they will teach, discipline, and care for your child. Important right?! A very common curriculum is the creative curriculum. This describes the teacher's role as an ongoing cycle of observing children, guiding their learning, and assessing their progress. This curriculum balances teacher and child directed activities. Many schools are now utilizing the emergent curriculum. The emergent curriculum is based on the student’s interest and passions as well as the teacher’s. Rather than starting with a lesson plan which requires a “hook” to get the children interested, emergent curriculum starts with the children’s interests. Every center follows a different curriculum so keep this in mind and do your research.
*What accreditation's, if any, does the center have?*
A great accreditation is the NAEYC accreditation. You can research this a bit, however NAEYC accreditations assure most teachers hold certain degrees and the center offers certain enrichment programs. If you are touring a Montessori school check to see that they are accredited by the AMS. These are not deal breakers, however it is helpful info.
*What credentials do the teachers in YOUR child's classroom have?*
Have all teachers attended a DAP training (Developmentally Appropriate Practices) is everyone CPR and First Aid certified? What degree do they hold?
*How long have they been teaching at that center?*
Daycares and preschools with a high teacher turn over are never a good place to be! You want to keep your munchkin's care as consistent as you can.
*What is the main form of communication between parent and teacher?*
This is a critical question. You need to know that if you have a question or concern that you can speak to the teacher directly. Is the teacher available by phone or email?
*What is the center's emergency plan?*
No one wants to think about this, but what if there is a natural disaster, a crazy person on the loose, or a fire? How will the center keep your baby safe and how will you know what you need to do? For example, if there is a fire and children are evacuated, where do they go? If there a crazy person on the loose does the school go into lock down? If so, how are you notified? You get the idea....
*What is the daily cleaning and sanitation schedule?*
This should be posted in any infant room. If not simply ask.
*What is the center's sick policy or "exclusion" policy?*
Basically when will they send a sick child home? This is important for so many reasons! First of all, you want to be notified if your little one is under the weather. Also, you don't want any sick children in your kiddos space, sharing snot, spit, a rash, etc. Also be sure that the center notifies you of serious illness in the school - Strep, Influenza, etc. Most centers will post a sign in your child's classroom if a child was seriously ill.
Be sure to demand all the time you need on your tours! If you are in and out in less than twenty minutes, you were rushed!!! Do not be afraid to ask ANYTHING. These people will be caring for your child, the reason you live and breathe. And trust me, people asked me some crazy questions when I was a center director. It never phased me. I knew that a parent was about to trust me with their pride and joy, that's not an easy thing. So go ahead and ask away! Good luck on your search!