By guest blogger, Alex Robbins, SafetyToday.org
There are few things more important than choosing the right daycare facility for your child. Whether you are picking a learning environment for your 3-year-old or 9-year-old, the tools for success remain the same. Here are eight must-haves that you should find in your child’s potential daycare center.
Age-appropriate toys and activities
A daycare center is almost useless if your child can’t grow using age appropriate toys and organized activities. If you visit a potential daycare center, but find little information about ongoing learning experiences, themed days, and toys geared toward different age groups, you may want to continue looking. A center with staff members that truly care about your child will have a variety of activities, toys, and methods to help him or her grow. Learn more about the importance of daily routines and age appropriate activities through PBS.
This must-have mostly revolves around safety equipment. Is the daycare center properly secure against intruders? Are there baby gates to keep younger children separated from older children? What kind of equipment is available for toddlers? You should see baby proofed doors, appliances, gates, outlets, and more on your first visit. Even if you don’t have a toddler, you should pay close attention to how much your potential daycare values safety.
Educated and qualified staff
You’ll have a good idea of the education and qualification level of staff members on your first visit to a potential daycare center. You should be introduced to the members who will be working directly with your child. As you meet with them, you should feel welcome to ask any questions you’d like about their prior experience. If you don’t feel comfortable or your questions aren’t being answered, you might want to look elsewhere. The staff members of a daycare center are the most important cog in the wheel. They make everything run smoothly.
Any professional daycare center should have an easily accessible handbook filled with safety regulations that will help keep your child (and other children) safe from harm. These regulations should include information about vaccinations, required at-home periods of rest after contagious illnesses, and other restrictions. If your potential day care center doesn’t have these rules on hand, they likely don’t enforce them. This could become a serious problem in the future.
Your child should only be eating healthy food at his or her daycare center. This means you should be introduced to the kitchen, the meal plans, and the daily functions involved in preparing food for your child. Transparency in the kitchen is essential to providing a professional daycare atmosphere. After all, you want to know what your child is ingesting.
Clean and safe facilities
It goes without saying that your child should only attend a daycare that is both clean and safe. This could be a matter of location, safety equipment, or general cleanliness. If, when touring the facility, you notice any serious problems with sanitation, you should probably walk away. Not sure what to look for? Parents.com recently published an article outlining what to seek in a professional daycare center.
A trial period
Most great day care centers offer a trial period option for your child, allowing him or her to gain access to the facility for a few days. Based on the reaction of your child, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not the daycare center is right for your family.
The final must-have for your potential daycare center? Trust. If you don’t trust the staff members or if you feel as though something is being hidden from you, relaxing during the day will be nearly impossible.
Quick tip for kids: Stranger danger
It can be a little scary being in a new place surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Daycare is a lot of fun and you’ll make so many new friends to play with, but don’t forget to be cautious of strangers. If you ever come across someone you don’t know or if someone unfamiliar approaches you during outside playtime, let your teacher know immediately.
Now let’s get back to the parents. Still struggling? Care.com offers some useful questions to ask when touring a day care center for your child.
If you search for these must-haves and take your time, you’ll find a quality daycare center that your child will love for years to come.
Toni Albert, M.Ed., is an award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her lifelong love for nature, children, and books inspired her to commit her publishing business, Trickle Creek Books, to “teaching kids to care for the Earth.”