How to Find the Best Care for your Child
No one trained you to know what to look for in finding the best care for your child. Sunshine House knows parents are confused and overwhelmed with so much information or lack of it. Here are some basics you should know. You will be armed with information from a professional source, that will have you confidently finding the best fit for your family!
1. Look around
When you’re visiting a potential school, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Ideally, a caregiver should be alert and interacting with the children. They should be getting down to the child’s level and communicating with easy, direct language. Do the children already attending appear happy and engaged?
2. Ask about school policies
Find out whether you share parenting philosophies on topics such as discipline (Are they teaching conflict resolution?); television (You are not paying to have your little one watch TV); feeding (What snacks or drinks are provided?); sleeping (When is naptime and how long is it? What is the routine leading up to naptime? What if my child doesn’t sleep…is there an alternative to laying on mat?); and so forth. Inquire about the sick-child policy (What symptoms prevent a child from attending?). Ask to see the parent handbook. The more questions you ask early on, the less likely you are to be unpleasantly surprised later.
3. Licenses and Ratios
All states require child-care centers to be licensed. That assures you of a minimum set of health and safety standards. You can call licensing and ask if there are complaints against the school. What is the child: teacher ratio? How are teachers chosen and trained (including CPR)? What is the average longevity of teachers? How long has the business been operational?
4. Check out reviews, but trust your gut
While word-of-mouth referrals from other parents or Google reviews are a good start, you need to look at a place for yourself to assess whether it meets your needs. Every school is not right for every child.
For starters, the school should be kept clean, childproofed, and well stocked with sturdy books and toys that are age-appropriate and in good condition. Are there many choices, so that children don’t have to compete to play? What does the outside play area look like (is there enough shade?).
Most importantly, trust your gut feeling and your child’s reaction. You know when things don’t feel right. There are so many intangible items that your brain will pick up, even if you can’t put your finger on what it is. After your child starts, pop back in unannounced a few times to see how things are going.
You miss your child when you are apart and you want to be informed about their day. What is the daily schedule? What activities are planned? How will I be communicated with? How will I know how my child’s day went, and what are my child’s learning goals? What can I do at home to reinforce learning?
No matter what your work hours, you are still your child’s essential caregiver—the most consistent source of love and support in their life. Under your care and guidance, along with the help of your well-chosen caregivers, your child will flourish and grow into a happy, healthy child.