The places we send our children during the day–school, camp, daycare–require a certain measure of trust from all parents. You drop your child off expecting that they will receive the best care and will learn and play in a safe environment; yet in some cases, the facility is understaffed or doesn’t meet the needs of all children. It can be a very stressful thing to find the right program for your child, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to ask for a tour before you commit to enrollment so you can get an idea of what sort of care they’ll provide.
There are some specific things you’ll want to look for and ask about during the tour, and if you don’t feel it’s the right place for your child, don’t be afraid to say so. Knowing your little one is in capable hands when you’re not around is a priority and will give you peace of mind.
Here are some of the best things to look for in a childcare setting:
All states have different laws regarding how many students or infants can be in a room per teacher, so it’s important to do a little research before you take a tour to see what your state’s guidelines are. If you see a room that looks overcrowded, chances are it will be that way when your child attends, and that’s a safety issue.
It’s your right to ask to see the licenses each daycare holds, and most states require that they be on display for easy viewing. Any facility that cares for children must be licensed to do so in several areas, including food safety and first aid.
Safety and Health Issues
It’s also important to pay close attention to how the caregivers are going about their duties. Are they wearing gloves while serving food or changing diapers? Are diaper-changing stations kept well away from where food is served? Take a look at the classrooms themselves; are there areas that are blocked from the teacher’s view, such as a corner tucked behind a bookshelf? The caregiver should be able to see all parts of the room for the safety of the children. If you see anything that concerns you, notify the director right away.
Any daycare, classroom, or camp setting should be stimulating for children. Bright colors, plenty of room to play with a variety of toys and games, and various stations for learning and play are necessary for the proper development of all children.
Use the Element of Surprise
If possible, drop in for a visit unannounced. This way, you can see the true nature of the teachers and staff when they don’t have time to plan lessons or clean the classrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms.
Most daycares and camps you check out are likely to be up to all of these standards. If they weren’t, they’d have a difficult time continuing their operations, but what matters most is your child’s safety and your ability to trust the facility you’re dropping them off at. Just know what to look for in a good one. Be sure to check out Care.com for signs to look for in a bad day care center.
Alex Robbins is a father of 3 who enjoys researching and writing about home safety tips, advice, and life hacks.