Dropping off your child at daycare is tough for any parent. However, many families need two incomes to make ends meet, and in many marriages, both parents want to enjoy a satisfying career. At a daycare center, kids become socialized, learning the basics like sharing, cooperating, friendship, conflict resolution, and other valuable traits and skills.
Visit any daycare center you consider. First, is it licensed by state and local agencies? Does the daycare center have adequate liability insurance? Ask to see a proof of insurance card.
Look at the floor. Is it clean? Are the bathrooms clean? Are there adequate safety barriers?
Ask about meals. If you bring your child’s food, what are your instructions?
Ask if there’s a surveillance camera (there should be) you can access through your computer. These cameras let you see your child throughout the day to make sure your child is properly treated when you aren’t around.
Visit two or three times over a period of weeks to see the daycare center under a variety of circumstances.
Talk to caregivers and, of course, talk to the director of the daycare center. Ask questions. How are medical emergencies treated? How are caregivers vetted? Trained? What’s the turn-over rate?
Also, are there caregivers crawling around with the kids? That’s a good sign that caregivers enjoy working with kids and building castles from building blocks.
Is the environment stimulating? Young children need stimulation to learn and to understand the world around them. You don’t want a holding pen for your child. You want an active, fun-filled day with lots of learning. Are there bright colors and lots of things to do? How often do kids go outside to play? Check the playground equipment to see if it’s in good repair.
Notice how your child greets you when you arrive for pick-up. If your child is active, smiling and excited, chances are it was a good day. Conversely, if your child is quiet, distant, sleepy, or cranky, find out why.
Talk child-rearing practices with caregivers. You want your child raised the way you feel is proper. Talk to the caregiver to see if you agree on things like discipline, punishment, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, nutrition and fitness.
During your child’s early years, she’s a sponge soaking up language, cultural norms, rules, self-discipline, basic learning skills. Make sure you and the caregiver understand each other about how you expect your child to be treated. It’s your responsibility as a good parent to find the right caregiver for both your child and you.
Arrive unannounced. That’s right, spy on the daycare facility or provider. Drop by unexpectedly to see what your child is doing. Avoid any daycare provider that discourages impromptu visits by parents. Parents should be welcomed at any time.
Stay on top of the daycare center. Once you find the right daycare center for your child, stay involved. Talk to daycare providers and the director about your child and how he’s progressing. Are there things you can do at home to improve your child’s performance? Ask an expert in child development.
If possible, offer to volunteer a few hours each week to let the daycare folks know you’re in the game and watching how things are run.
Finally, don’t be afraid to switch. It’s true that children look for consistency, and change is sometimes difficult for kids. However, if your first choice for daycare turns out to be the wrong choice, switch. Children are also wonderfully adaptable, so making new friends in a new daycare center won’t take long.
You are your child’s #1 advocate, providing the best services you can afford. Make sure your child is safe, engaged, and making wonderful discoveries every day when you can’t be there.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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