It’s back to school time and for many of us, that means choosing the right day care or preschool.
I was blessed to be able to spend a full year at home with my first son, The DJ.I was laid off in January of 2009, and had recently left a temporary position. When I decided to go back to work shortly after his first birthday, we needed to find someone who would care for him like one of their own.
We live within walking distance of three different in home day care facilities. We visited each one, but didn’t feel that any were quite the right fit for our family. The first, less than a minute away, was bright and clean, but when my husband asked why the owner had gone into business, she didn’t express a love for children or a genuine interest in helping them grow. The second never answered the door or my follow up phone calls. The third seemed nice, but had a number of uncorrected violations when I looked them up on the New York State Day Care Facility Search.
Luckily, there was an opening at the daycare our nephew attended. We went to check the place out, and brought The DJ along. As soon as we stepped inside, he reached for the woman in charge. She patiently answered all of the questions I had gotten from Babycenter.com with a smile. She showed us the bathroom, let us know when she would start potty training, and when we could expect The DJ to start using a wider vocabulary. Our nephew began reading at three years old as a result of her background as a principal in Jamaica. I was sold.
While our son no longer attends that day care and is ready to start pre-k, here are three things I learned during our process:
Have a list of questions prepared to ask. Is the center licensed to give medication? What’s the policy on discipline? Babycenter has a helpful set of questions to ask.
What does the place look like? Are there windows or bright lighting? Do the high chairs, playpens, and other equipment look clean? While one of the places we saw seemed tidy, it was in a dark basement.
How does your child react to the staff? These are the people they’ll be spending most of the day with. The DJ wasn’t impressed by the first director, but fell in love with the last.
You’re trusting someone else to care for your baby, so you should feel 100% comfortable. Check the Daycare Facility Search in your state to see if there have been any violations, and if those violations have been corrected. Don’t be afraid to call and check in on your child each day (at different times) to see how he or she is doing. Most importantly, trust your gut, mom. If something doesn’t feel quite right, don’t ignore it.
Have you chosen a day care center for your child? What tips would you share with other parents?
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