You’ve made the decision that it’s time. Or, maybe there is no decision to be made- it just has to happen. Now you need to find a place for your child. You don’t want just any place. You want a good place. You want some place safe. What about educational? How will you know which is the right place for your child? What do you look for? Are there clues? Here are some guidelines.
First, check out their website. Do they talk about safety features? Do they highlight “education” or “curriculum”? Do they have pictures of their building and staff? Do they have a local phone number you can call? Do they have a Facebook page and testimonials? Read the testimonials!
Go ahead and check out their Facebook page. Are there frequent posts? Are there smiling children and staff? Maybe even some parents? Are there fun, cute, or helpful posts? You may want a place that shares a little, or shares a lot. A place that has frequent events posted means that if you choose that school, even if you miss one or two events, there will be plenty for you to participate in with your child. It also means that building relationships with families is important to them. They go the extra mile.
Next, call them. Do they answer their phone? Ask your name? Take their time to chat? Or are they in a hurry? The first moment you contact someone they will show you whether customer service is important to them. You may want a place that is willing to take their time to get to know you and answer all of your questions. Tell them what’s important to you in a child care center, and then listen to see if they can describe ways in which their center can address your needs. Safety? Cameras! Education? Curriculum! Communication? Daily notes! Discipline style? Positive Guidance!
Finally, accept the tour invitation! They are offering you an opportunity to look under the hood before you sign. Go for it. Kick the tires! Are they willing to tour when it is convenient for you? Is the parking lot clean? Is there tidy landscaping? This may seem picky, but you want a place that pays attention to details, right? Do they meet you at the door, shake your hand, and smile? Do they show you around the whole building? Is it bright and cheerful? Are the corners clean or filled with dirt or boxes? Ask to use the rest room. Is it clean and stocked? In the classroom, are the teachers all engaged with a child or small group? Are they at the children’s eye level? Look for a parent board with a daily schedule, menu, and lesson plans. Look for windows and ledges to be clutter free. If it is early or late in the day, are the children still separated by age, or are they all bunched together regardless of age? For safety, toddlers should never share space with preschool or school-aged children. Is the playground neat? Do they have something out for the children to play with besides the permanent structures? Staff should make an effort to provide children with a daily change on the playground as part of their lesson plans for gross motor activity. Are there separate areas for different aged children? This protects the little ones from getting bumped by the olders. Are you invited to sit in a quiet place with the Director or staff member to answer your questions and provide you with more information? This is your chance to ask about policies like discipline, illness, screen time, payments, etc. Are they patient and thorough? How do you feel? Like an interruption, or like a guest?
Making your decision should now be much easier. Whether you’ve only toured one center, or you’ve been to several, you will FEEL which center is right for you and your child. Refer to your personal checklist of pros and cons for the deal breakers (hours, rates, transportation), but trust your gut. People will be caring for your child. People are what make us feel comfort. A center that has people who can make you feel comfortable will most likely have staff that can provide your child comfort as well.United Way has a website, www.211ct.org, and a phone line, dial 2-1-1, where you can find child care providers in your area. Please contact Taylor Duckworth at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions related to this article, or call 860-436-5307 for a tour of Kiddie Academy of Rocky Hill. Visit us on the web at www.kiddieacademy.net/rockyhill and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KiddieAcademyofRockyHill/ .