When I decided to have my son I had a plan; I would be a stay-at-home mother and home school my child. Six months after the birth of my first son I was living with my mom, going through a divorce, and in serious need of a job and some income. There I was, a single mom, faced with leaving her 6-month-old and returning to the workforce. I was a very protective mom with no sitter, daycare was my only option. Like many moms, I refused to even consider a daycare who couldn’t successfully pass my checklist of must have’s. Yes, I created a checklist of things a great daycare should have and it actually helped me find the perfect daycare for my son. Here’s my checklist:
- Dedicated Staff: A great daycare shouldn’t have a high turn-over rate. Our children love consistency, if the daycare has new teachers and staff every 3 months, keep looking. Look for a daycare with a staff that has been the same for a period of years.
- Open Door Policy: As a parent or prospective parent, you should be able to visit the daycare without an appointment. My son’s daycare is open to new parents visiting without appointments. You want to see what the school is like when they’re not expecting you.
- Never too Young for Structure: Although it is a daycare, the school should have a curriculum. Your child should be exposed to numbers, colors, music, and language. A great daycare is more than a babysitting service. Your child should be doing more than running around all day. My son has learned his colors, directions and he counts to 20. He learned it all in daycare.
- Friendly Staff: The staff should be helpful, understanding, and kind. You should be able to address any concerns and be greeted with kindness and understanding. My son was born premature, he has had several illnesses, his daycare staff was understanding and worked with me to ensure his individual needs were met.
- Clean Facility: The school should be clean and well kept. Before I discovered my sons’ current daycare, I visited countless others with dirty facilities; Toys everywhere, adult clothing and shoes thrown about and a smell of urination that hit you when you walked through the door. A great daycare should encourage and teach the same kinds of training and behavior that you teach at home.
- Focus on Childcare: The children should be the focal point of the administrators and staff. Children should be clean. I once visited a daycare and the children hadn’t been changed in hours; the babies had heavily soiled diapers and runny noses. The staff were not attending to the children, and the kids suffered.
- Age Range: A great daycare will cater to a specific age group. There are several day cares that offer a latchkey or after-school program for middle school children. This is inappropriate for a daycare. Your toddlers should be in an environment that is suited to their needs. I once walked in on a 13-year-old over seeing the daycare’s playtime.
My list is not all inclusive but it includes some great food for thought tips. Our children are our pride and joy. Many of us have to leave the home and place our little ones in the hands of others. Please research carefully before you decide on a daycare facility. They are not all created equal.