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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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How to Choose Right Day Care This Fall

These 5 tips will help you confidently find the for your child

 

Finding the right daycare environment for your precious little ones is very challenging. There is a wide array of choices, so be prepared to do your due diligence. Here are five tips to help you navigate the world of day care for your child:

 

Tip #1

Take a moment to think about what type of parent you are and how much you want your personal philosophy to translate to your child’s school environment. Are you a strict parent and have clear rules and boundaries for your child? Are you a bit more relaxed in your parenting and would prefer for your child to explore and problem solve on their own? You will find that preschools/day care centers have a wide range of philosophies—Montessori, play-based, HighScope, Reggio Emilia, and on and on. Reflect on what you are most comfortable with and then book school tours with all types of schools.

 

Tip #2

Try to go on as many school tours as you can within your price range. Most parents will know just by walking into a school whether it is a fit for their child. You know your child more than anyone else, so ask yourself if you could picture them in this environment? Upon arrival, you should listen for “happy noise;” the sound of children playing and having a good time. You should also look for a clean environment, but not too clean! Kids need to be able to get dirty and have fun. You also want teachers who are spending time with the children and not obsessively cleaning and leaving the children on their own.

 

Tip #3

Come prepared for your tour with questions for the director. Some questions that you should ask are: What is the school’s teacher turnover rate? Teachers who are happy with their job will be better teachers with the children. Are parent volunteer hours required or encouraged? How often are there tuition increases? Ask about their staff-to-child ratio but don’t just go by what the director tells you. Take a minute to count how many kids are in each room and with how many teachers. What are the school’s emergency plans? Is the day care licensed? You can also check with the Virginia Department of Education about any complaints. The school’s complaint record is a public record, and it would provide good insight.

 

Tip #4

Ask the day care for parent recommendations. They should be able to provide you with the phone number or email address of a couple of parents whose children attend the school. These parents can provide valuable information about what goes on at the school from a parent’s perspective. You can also ask your friends for their personal recommendations or ask around at the playground or swim class. Getting information about schools from other parents will be key in helping you to feel comfortable in your decision to enroll your child.

 

Tip #5

The most important tip is to trust your gut. If something feels “off” about a daycare environment, trust that feeling and try another center. Parental instincts are key to any decision in your child’s life—don’t discount them.

Lydia Smith
Lydia Smith
Lydia Smith has a degree in Developmental Psychology and was a preschool  owner/director/teacher for 25 years. She is the mother of two adult sons.

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