Choosing a daycare or preschool for your child can be one of the most stressful decisions a parent makes. Leaving your child when they are very young is always difficult and it can be even harder when you are leaving them for long stretches with someone who is basically a stranger. In addition to this, there’s a lot of stress about finding the right preschool so that your child will be completely ready for Kindergarten.
It can take trial and error and sometimes a mistake or two before you find the right place for your son or daughter. To help guide you, we’ve put together a few steps.
Ask for Recommendations
Ask as many people as possible for childcare recommendations and also for their experiences in general. You might pick up the name of a great nanny or hear about an opening at a center that usually has a wait list. Above all, you might hear about places that people have not had a good experience with.
Visit the child care places you are interested in and bring a list of questions. You’ll want to ask about class sizes, how often staff turns over, hours of operation, and how often they take holidays. Interviews also help you get a feel for the staff, directors, and their personalities. You need to find a place that is a good match for your parenting style. Do you need a warm and homey feel? Or do you prefer a more business-like atmosphere? Something intangible like this is just as important as the precise details of how they operate. If you are able to attend an event such as our Preschool Fair held each November, this is a great way to meet with several schools quickly and see which ones are a good fit for you and your family.
Tour the Facility
We recommend making two visits. One scheduled and one pop-in. Scheduled visits are great for getting a view of the entire facility, but a pop-in will allow you to see what the facility is like when they aren’t putting on their best face. If you can go in before nine or after four this will give you an idea of how they handle shift changes and the general chaos of drop-off and pick-up.
Once you have your choices narrowed down, do some research online. Visit the department of education’s website where you can see any and all citations that have been received by a child care center. Read the citations and see how you feel about them. See how how often citations occur. If you’re in any mom groups, ask them about the place you’ve selected.
Trust Your Gut
Above all else, trust your gut. If a place doesn’t feel right then it’s not the right place no matter how many other people like it or how close it is to your house. It may be difficult to leave your children, but it shouldn’t feel scary. I moved my kids across town to find the best fit and I have never regretted it.
These are just a few tips we have for picking the right child care facility. Keep in mind that it is a process and will take some time so prepare accordingly. If you’d like to watch an interview I did on this topic with WWLTV, please visit their site.