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Signs of a good daycare (everything you need to know)
So you finally decided to put your child in daycare, but you have no idea where to start or what to even look for.
Hello, my name is Jennifer and I I am a certified childcare provider of 10+ years.
I have worked in some of the best preschools (and sme of the worst) in South Florida and I know a thing or two about what makes a quality preschool/daycare.
Today I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about what to look for when you finally decide to put your baby daycare.
But first, when can you enroll your baby in daycare?
6 weeks old is the earliest you can put your child into daycare. Most daycares accept infants but you will come across daycares that do not accept children unless they are potty trained, but those are few and far between.
So mama, depending on what you’re comfortable with will be the right time to put your baby in preschool.
Don’t worry though because I am here to help you make up your mind and easier anxiety and doubts about putting your child into a safe child care center.
Recommended read: What to pack in your newborns daycare bag on their first day
Schools that need to follow a certain criteria to become accredited and evaluated every year are the daycares you want to be looking for.
Simply do some research before touring the schools to see which ones are accredited.
You can most likely find everything you need to know on their website.
If any are not, i’d scratch them off the list.
Preschools that are accredited are held to a higher standard then those without.
They get evaluated every single year and have to pass in every single classroom in the entire preschool.
They look at things like, following the schedule and routine, following health department guidelines, curriculum, following lesson plans, the way teachers interact with the children and more.
This is really good because you will know these particular daycares are one step better than the rest.
#2) Online camera access
When you are not with your baby do you ever wonder what they are doing at that very moment?
Well you can do that when they are in school!
Looking for a daycare with wifi enabled cameras in all the classroom and outside areas is super important for most parents, myself included.
If you take anything away from this post PLEASE take this and run with it!
Being able to see how your baby is doing during the day while you are at work or on your lunch break is the best feeling in the world.
In most cases, daycares nowadays are opting into wifi enabled cameras because they know how important it is for parents to see what’s going on with their little babies.
Especially because they can’t communicate with you about their day.
When looking for a daycare for your baby I would put the preschools with cameras at the top of my list.
#3) Cleanliness and organization
This point has to do with the entire daycare. Not just the classrooms.
You want the office to be clean and organized and office personnel on top of their office duties.
Bonus is they have fingerprint access.
We don’t want miscommunications, dirty floors, unorganized paperwork.
Trust me, I’ve seen it all.
You want to be informed of upcoming events in a timely manner and be called if your child has an accident.
Preschools who are unorganized and don’t follow through or follow up with you are not something you want to deal with.
I will talk more about this later…
The classrooms should look as organized and clean as they can be (considering the kids are always messing it up anyways).
We want to see clean floors after meal times, wiping down of the toys after playing, deep cleaning toys at night. (especially the ones who put everything in their mouth (1s,2s, and 3s!)
#4) Teacher to child ratio in classrooms
This is also a big one for me too!
I know first hand how hard it is to take care of so many kids, and the preschool thinks its OK because they have enough teachers in that classroom to cover the ratio laws.
This is not ok.
This is not OK for the teachers, the parents, or the children.
Yes you have more teachers to juggle the kids, but that doesn’t matter when ones screaming and the other one has to be changed.
Another child bit another one because they are not getting enough attention, all while your boss is telling you to sing to that one and bounce this one on your lap simultaneously, but wait! this one needs a change first! (and just walks out of the room to leave the teachers at the mercy of 15 1 year olds).
I mean the list goes on!
Sorry, ranted for a minute.
You catch my drift though… You don’t want your child in a classroom with too many children.
You will want to ask how many kids are in the classroom at the present moment and how many kids they allow in the classroom at any given moment throughout the year.
Basically how many children will they take on in the classroom and what is the cut off.
#5) Communication with the office and teachers
The office staff should be warm and inviting and willing to help with any concerns you may have.
They should actively acknowledge your concerns and work with you to find solutions to them.
You want to make sure that you are getting your needs met on the tour and getting answers to your questions and feel confident about them.
You will know if you found a good daycare when you walk in at any given time and ask for a tour and they immediately bring you in to look around.
This means they are confident in their staff and policies therefore that shows you, you can have trust in them.
Sometime though, they are too busy to do a tour at that very moment, so don’t make this your deal breaker.
It’s just a nice observation and something to really think about when your touring.
If you have a pressing concern that is directly for the teacher, make sure to speak with them about it directly.
If the problem persists then I would suggest speaking to the office.
Teacher and parent communication is super important to the success of your child on so many different levels.
You will want to have an open communication routine whether that be through email, an app, even text messaging!
Do not be afraid to ask your teacher for their phone number! Most will be OK with that.
#6) Read through the policy book
The policy book can give you a good idea of what the rules are concerning child behavior, how they handle discipline, and so on.
It will also give you information about the dress code, how to sign your child in and out, and their safety procedure regarding a fire or other threat they may encounter.
hey will also have their schedule in the handbook.
Typically they tell you this right off the bat.
Here is an example of two different preschool schedule scenarios.
- full time: monday – friday 7am-6pm
- part time: monday, wednesday, friday or tuesdays and thursdays.
- part time: everyday till 12pm
- full time: monday – friday 630-5:30
- part time everyday till 12pm
As you can see you have some daycares that are more flexible than others.
You will have to determine which one is a good fit for your specific schedule.
Read through the policy handbook once, put it in a drawer so you have it for future reference or to compare different daycare policies later.
#7) Do preschools have an open door policy?
Yes they do, but some may not.
You will most likely want to put your child in a daycare that has an open door policy, this ensures that there is no funny business happening.
If by any reason a daycare is not ok with you visiting unannounced then consider this a red flag.
The open door policy should be stated in the policy handbook and you can ask on your tour as well.
#8) Consider the price
This is a touchy subject.
I hate to break it you mama, but, you get what you pay for.
So how much does it cost to send your child to daycare?
Anywhere from $100 per week to $350 per week.
There is also a drop off option which can run you from $20 to $40 per day. (probably not a good bang for your buck though)
It all depends on what your willing to pay for.
If you child is part time or full time, how many extra curricular activities are included in the week, etc…
#9) Activities and programs
Maybe the infants won’t be doing much of these but as they get older it’s worth it for them!
Some of the best extra curricular activities and programs in preschools I would suggest you look out for and ask about are:
- swimming lessons (if the daycare has a pool)
These are great and usually happen once per week, some schools may have it all and some may only have a couple on the list. Either way it is a nice bonus for daycares to have at least 1 or 2 of these activities available for the kids.
#10) Does preschool provide food?
Mornings can be hectic, and woulnd’t it be nice to have one less thing to do?
If you are OK with having your child have food provided by the school then by all means take advantage of this luxury mama!
If a daycare is to provide food they will provide breakfast, snack and lunch. If your child stays later they will also be provided with a second snack (in most cases).
If the preschool does not provide food for the kids then you will have to bring food for them everyday.
Some preschools proviude only snacks, some provinde only breast and snacks.
It really depends on the daycare you choose.
This is a great question to ask on your tour.