CHOOSING A CHILD CARE CENTER

Choosing a suitable child care center for your kid can seem as overwhelming as helping a teenager select a university !  What questions do you need to ask ? … HighReach gives you a  5 step approach.

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Finding the right child care center for your kid can take a great deal of time, so start looking in advance. Not sure what type of center that you children need ? The following questions hopefully will point you in the right direction ….

WHAT IS YOUR CHILD LIKE ?


  • Most important in determining  the type of care they need is to know your own child – her / his temperament, likes and dislikes, interests, learning style and need for individual attention. Is she/ he an only child who need to learn to socialize ? Is she/ he a timid child who requires encouragement to try new things ? Does she/ he tire easily from traveling, which means making a center closer to home will be more beneficial ?
  • It is important for parents to know their children and their needs. There is really no one stop place where all the need of every child will be met. If your child likes discovery and exploration, look for a program that has that “provision”. Your family’s value will also determine the type of care you choose for your child. For example if the building of a reading habit is crucial to you, look for a center that emphasizes a reading culture.

 WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A CHILDCARE CENTER ?

  • Once you have pinpointed your child’s needs and your personal preferences, you can make a list of what’s important to you in a child care center. For example : do you want a center close to home or to your work’s place ? Do you want your child to be with many children or prefer smaller groups ? Is having a religious environment important for your family ? What kind of discipline style would you prefer for your children ?
  • Having a support structure helps, as my mum could pick my daughter up at mid day so we decided half-day child care. Or the quality of teachers, state of facilities and amount of toys/ stimulation that my children will get are keys in choosing the suitable child care center for your family.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES?

  • Ask your friend, families, colleagues for child care that they recommend. Or read recommended child care articles from magazines, newspapers, tabloids. Surf the internet and other resources for centers in your areas or your targeted areas. There are also several parenting / mom’s mailing list that you could join to get more info about it . 


2. NARROW DOWN YOUR OPTIONS

Once you have a list of all possibilities , call the child care centers on the phone and ask some preliminary questions. Take note of how you feel during your conversation, including what made you feel that way . Narrow down your list by crossing off the centers you do not feel comfortable about. The following are some questions that you could ask :

  1. What kind of program are provided
  2. How qualified are the staffs / background experiences
  3. What are the rules and policies in that child care center
  4. How much attention will you child get (ratio between child and teacher/ child assistant )


3. VISIT A FEW CHILD CARE CENTERS

Once you have narrowed your search, together with your child, visit the centers you had a good feeling about. Look around to get a sense of whether the center provides an environment in which you think your child would learn and have fun.  Some Check List for your guidance:

  1. Are the facilities clean and safe for children ?
  2. How are children greeted on arrival ?
  3. Are children learning while they are having fun ?
  4. Do the facts support the center’s claim i.e. brochure mention about exciting class room , so check it ?
  5. How is your child’s reaction ?

 

4. CONFIRM YOUR CHOICE

    • After visiting a few child care centers to get a first-hand impression, you can narrow down your list again and start checking references. Talk to parents of children who are currently at the center, whom you can meet when they drop off or pick up their children . Ask them how they find the child care center, whether their children like it and how they have benefited so far.
    • The child care center may also give you the contact of parents who have had children there in the past. Ask their opinion of the center and if they would recommend it to you. If their child is no longer at the center, ask them why .

 

5. STAY INVOLVED

Once you have decided on a child care center, your work is not over yet. In fact , this is when you begin a long-term partnership / trust with the child care center.

  • Allow for an adjustment period, your child may need time to adjust to her/his new environment, so do not panic if the first few days are difficult. Children with “stranger anxiety” need extra time and parental reassurance in adjusting to their teachers who are still relative strangers. Many toddlers and preschoolers typically go through adjustment periods involving tears, objection and tantrums as they settle in. And this period of settling in can take anywhere from a week to a month- it all depends on your child and how he copes with change. So always be patient and assure yourself that the teachers are there to help every child, including yours.
  • You can help by being around the first few days or if you already have baby sitter, and packing some of your children favorite toys or clothes in your child’s back pack. Also reassure your children that you will return at the end of the day and make sure you are there punctually so she/ he sees you at the moment “class” is over and is assured that she/ he is not abandoned.
  • Reevaluate if necessary, if your child is still not happy and flourishing after a month, you may need to re-assess his/her needs and re-evaluate the suitability of the child care center, its programs or the specific teacher. Remember to speak to the Child Care Director/ Manager and raise any concerns you have.
  • In the long run, daily reports from your child about her/ his day, regular contact with her/ his teachers and occasional onsite visits can help you to track your child’s progress and reassure you that they are being nurtured and having fun.