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Do you have children that are too young for school or to fend for themselves? In most families, both parents have to work to bring in income. In this case, some form of daycare for your children is essential.

But how do you choose daycare programs that are right for you and your child? 

There are a few things that you can look for when it comes to choosing the perfect daycare provider. Some things will vary depending on your child and your personal needs, but this is a great guide to look back to. 

Keep reading for more information on how to choose the right daycare for you.

Look Into the Caregivers and Backgrounds

You wouldn’t entrust your children to just anyone, right? It’s important to look into the caregivers that will be looking after your child.

Do they have plenty of experience? Do they receive frequent in-house training? 

How many children is each caregiver responsible for, and do they have a track record for being able to handle them all equally?

Daycare isn’t an easy job. One child is hard enough, but bringing a bunch of children from all different backgrounds and with all different personalities together can be a lot of work! You need to know that your caregivers are up for the challenge.

When you visit (and you should always visit first) make sure that you pay attention to how caregivers interact with the children. Are they dismissive and preoccupied or are they engaged, playful, and supportive? Do all of the children appear to be given proper one-on-one attention? 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A good caregiver or program will be happy to answer them. After all, they’re confident!

Identify Safety Concerns

When you visit the center, pay careful attention to things that may be safety concerns for your child. 

Are entrances, closets, cabinets, and windows secured in such a way that a small child won’t easily be able to open them? Can you see signs of handwashing and disinfecting around the play areas?

A good daycare doesn’t have to be sterile. Children are messy by nature. It should, however, be clean and relatively tidy when the day begins. 

It may also be good to know that your caregiver has CPR or first-aid training. This is often a requirement for a daycare provider but isn’t always necessary. Having a daycare provider that knows how to complete these life-saving actions can put your mind at ease when it comes to the safety of your child. 

One final thing, and this may not apply to you or your child, but if your child takes medicine throughout the day, is the center comfortable administering it? Are they good at following instructions and can they assure you that your child will receive the care that they need? 

Many children who need medicine have to take it at specific times throughout the day. This may be through an inhaler, tablets, liquids, or even pinpricks and injections depending on the condition. Don’t send your child somewhere that won’t attend to their medical needs.

Look Into the Activities

While a daycare’s primary function is to provide a safe and social place for your children while you’re away, a good daycare includes activities that contribute to the growth and mental development of your child. 

What does your program do to enhance your child’s development?

Many daycares include art and music to help develop a child’s motor skills and coordination in a way that also gives them a creative outlet. Some also encourage learning through play.

Children, as a general rule, don’t like to sit in stuffy classrooms to learn when they’re that small. They need frequent engagement and playtime activities that engage their minds and push them in the right direction. 

You want caregivers that can encourage the growth of your child’s creative, cognitive, and social development. 

Observe the Children

When you visit, pay special attention to the children and how they seem to be experiencing the daycare.

Are the babies generally happy or calm? Are the toddlers distressed, and if so are they being soothed appropriately?

Are children fighting? If so, is there moderation happening to help calm the situation down? 

A daycare provider can tell you whatever they want. The children are the real mark of whether or not a daycare center is the right one for you and your child. 

Policies and Communication

Always look into the policies of your daycare before deciding if it’s for you. You have a parenting style and your children are used to certain things. Does this daycare align with your values and home policies? 

If not, can adjustments be made for your child? 

If your house is strictly “no television”, look into whether or not the daycare has the television on all day. If you’re for or against certain types of punishment, see what the daycare does.

Many families don’t encourage any kind of negative reinforcement. If this sounds like you, ensure that your values align with those of the daycare so as not to confuse your child. 

Also, look into the sick policy. What kind of symptoms will cause the daycare to encourage the parents to keep their children at home? What happens if one of the caregivers is sick?

And when you ask these questions, are the answers all communicated clearly and quickly to you? 

The relationship between a parent and a caregiver has to be good and these are normal things to ask about. This is a good litmus test for whether or not a daycare center fits you and your child. 

How to Choose Daycare Programs: Takeaways

When considering how to choose daycare programs and providers you first have to know what you’re looking for. 

Are you looking for someone to solely watch your child, or are you more invested in engagement, opportunities for socialization and play, and some light learning? 

Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask questions. The care of your child is a big responsibility and you don’t want to just give it to anyone.

For more information, or to schedule a tour of our programs in Manchester, CT, visit our site