Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Poster: How to Choose the Best Child Care

I've been a little MIA the past few days.  We've had such a busy weekend, and Eric finally got back home!!  I was hoping to post some pictures of the past week, but my computer has been sooooo slow (I think it's time for an upgrade) so that'll have to wait.

Until then, I have a great guest poster.  I've talked before about how difficult it can be to be a working mom.  It's tough not only to try to balance your work and home life, but also to find somewhere you trust with your babies.  I was blessed that my best childhood friend, who I've known since I was 3 moved in down the street and opened a daycare.  Many people are not that lucky, and it's a tough struggle to find somewhere that provides a loving and educational environment.  Now, crazy enough we are starting to have to look at pre-schools.  Seriously, how is it this time already?  Didn't I just give birth?!?  

Kathleen Thomas from Primrose Schools was kind enough to contact me with some helpful tips to remember when choosing the best child care.  

Choosing the right child care can be filled with concern and doubts. Parents agree that finding the right day care center is vital due to the rapid brain development that occurs in pre-school age children. The child care experience needs to be more than just safe; it also needs to be filled with positive experiences that will engage the children and help their little minds grow and develop. There is no doubt that choosing the right child care arrangement is one of the most important decisions you will make in your young child’s life.

Narrow down the Options
It’s important to know what your options are. One way to find out is by talking to your friends, family and pediatrician. Find out who they recommend and why. Once you have a short list of centers, you can visit their web sites to learn more about the programs they offer and which ones you like the best. You can then call each center to ask more questions, get more information and schedule a tour.

First Impressions
Your first impressions of a center are important. If a center just doesn’t feel right to you then you should keep looking. Notice how the school smells, if it smells clean or if a heavy ammonia smell seems to be covering something up. Look at the children that are there. A good sign is when the children in the center are all happy and engaged. It’s completely acceptable at this stage to rule centers out based on nothing more than a gut feeling.

Asking Questions
Once you have narrowed down the list further, you will want to start asking questions. This gives you an opportunity to speak candidly with the employees and learn more about the people who might ultimately be spending the bulk of the workday with your child. Here are some of the things you will want to ask about and the types of answers you should look for.
 • Teachers – Look for a center that has qualified teachers. Even though they do not have to be fully certified teachers, they should still have experience in caring for young children. More than that, they should seem to want to be working at the center and should seem to genuinely enjoy their job.
• Safety standards – Ask if the teachers and other staff members are trained in CPR and first aid. Find out what the procedures are in the event of accident or illness.
• Education – A great day care center does more than keep your child safe and fed; it also teaches your child and sets the groundwork for a positive school experience. Look for a facility that offers a set curriculum. Look for leaders in the center who are knowledgeable about child development and are focused on helping your child prepare for grammar school.
• Accreditation – Look for a school that has accreditation from outside agencies. Look for published standards regarding care and goals and a commitment to meet those standards. You should also seek a child care center that seeks to constantly improve their standards.
• Environment – Look for a center that is organized with regular activities and ongoing interaction with the teachers. The children should seem happy and relaxed. Ask how the teachers handle behavior problems to see if you agree with and can support their methods. Ask to see a daily schedule to determine what kind of routine the children enjoy.
• Licensure – Any center you choose should be licensed by the State. They should have clear policies regarding how they handle behavior problems, aggression, accidents or sickness.

The child care arrangements that you choose for your young child can make the difference between a child who loves learning and a child who is afraid to leave your side. Choose a center that will help your child be engaged and active while also teaching her and keeping her safe.

Thanks, Kathleen!

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