As a first-time parent, you may fear leaving your only kid in a stranger’s care. It’s pretty normal to be worried about their safety. However, life circumstances may not allow you to stay with your kid anytime you wish. You may have a full-time job to keep or other urgent tasks to attend to. Thus, leaving your child in a daycare center may be inevitable.
Child Care for First-Time Parents: What To Look for in a Daycare Center
Your task is finding a daycare center that meets your child’s needs. This article presents the essentials to look for in such facilities and actionable guidance you can count on during your search.
Safety and cleanliness
A safe and clean environment ensures your child doesn’t fall ill unnecessarily or get into accidents. So, your first assignment is ascertaining whether the daycare center has safety certifications. Local authorities usually give these after inspecting the facility for child-friendliness.
Besides certifications, inquire about their cleaning protocols. An ideal daycare center should be sparkling clean throughout the day, given the delicate nature of kids. This means they should have a full-time cleaner charged with cleaning up after the kids, not just once a day, but as many times as needed.
You can visit the daycare to see for yourself the cleanliness standards. An impromptu visit at an unspecified time may give you a true picture of the facility’s daily appearance. You can also ask the administrators how they deal with emergencies like fires or illnesses. A center with documented procedures shows how serious it is about such incidents.
Affordability and flexibility
Cost is every parent’s concern. You’d want a daycare center you can comfortably afford. In the U.S., daycare centers cost parents an average of USD$991 monthly for infants and USD$847 for toddlers.
It takes detailed budgeting to know how much you can spare for your child’s education. Aside from the school fees, consider expenses like activity fees, transport to and from home, meals, and school supplies.
Costs vary considerably from region to region. Some towns are generally affordable to live in, while others are on the higher end. Cities like Columbia, TN, among the top 19% most expensive cities globally, may have higher school fees.
On the same note, it helps to know the school’s payment options. Unlike a compulsory one-time payment, a staggered plan that allows you to pay in installments is usually ideal as it eases the financial burden. You may also inquire about discounts, which could grant you further savings.
Qualified and caring staff
Staff credentials matter. Professional training in early childhood development ensures the people taking care of your kid have the requisite know-how. As you know, childcare is more than cleaning up after them and soothing them to sleep. It requires a comprehensive understanding of child growth to ensure they achieve specific developmental milestones. So, request the daycare managers for the staff’s certificates.
Furthermore, assess how caring the staff are. Compassionate caregivers deeply understand children’s needs and can help them thrive in the school environment. Contrarily, harsh babysitters may inflict fear on your kids, stunting their social development.
On the same note, you’d want to consider staff-to-child ratios. A lower ratio implies more individualized attention for your child. This way, your child’s concerns are adequately addressed and not lost in the vast crowd of kids.
Comprehensive curriculum and activities
The more structured and balanced the daycare’s curriculum is, the better the kids’ development. It’s not all about stuffing the classes with blocks or coloring sheets. A wholesome curriculum that includes sensory play, physical activity, social interaction, art, music, science experiments, gardening, and literacy skills development is crucial. One daytime nap is also essential for kids.
So, inquire about their approach to learning. A well-defined program with sufficient variety tells you the daycare is committed to all-rounded development for kids. They should provide you with a daily timetable for the kids and teachers.
Transparent and open communication
Open, regular communication enhances trust and collaboration. You deserve to know how your child is faring, whether they’re achieving standard developmental milestones, and any other critical updates.
Thus, opt for a daycare center that provides daily reports. These can be on paper or through a related mobile phone app. Besides, they should arrange regular meetings where you meet face-to-face with the caregivers to discuss your child’s progress and what can be done to work on their shortfalls.
However, don’t always wait for these scheduled meetings to raise concerns. As a parent, you can call the school anytime to discuss pressing matters about your child.
Choosing the right daycare center is a significant decision for first-time parents. Your choice sets the pace for your kid’s development. So, don’t take it lightly. Look deeply into the criteria discussed above and choose wisely.