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How to choose a daycare? For me, nothing was scarier than choosing a daycare for my kids. However, I needed to be a working mom, so I had to choose a childcare option soon after they were born.
After picking two different day cares over the time my kids have been preschool aged, I’ve come up with lots of criteria. Here are the most important questions to ask when choosing the perfect daycare.
How to Choose A Day Care: Questions to Ask
What is the student teacher ratio?
If it is anything less than the state ratio, take it! Most day cares fill to the max so they can increase their profit.
What curriculum does the daycare use?
Even though your kids are in daycare during the day, there is no reason why they should not be learning at least something. Check to see if the curriculum is state based and rigorous enough to help educate your child appropriately. (Babies can learn too!) You also want to make sure they aren’t going to put your child in front of technology rather than teaching as well.
What is the schedule- do the kids go outside?
Do the children have a set schedule each day? If so, check it out. Does it look similar to the schedule you already have set for your child?
Do they allow children to participate partially throughout the week?
Some time now or in the future you might want your child to only attend 2, 3, or 4 days out of the week. Make sure this is an option.
Does the daycare offer breakfast or lunch?
This was a big one for me. If they offer breakfast and lunch, that cuts down on a lot of preparation time for you. If they follow healthy guidelines, that’s an added bonus. Now, if you have a picky eater like I did, you might need to ask about other options.
What are the daycare hours?
When can you drop off and when must you pick up? Does your state have a minimum number of hours a child can attend daycare? Are there late fees if not picked up on time?
Billing questions- Do you pay monthly or weekly?
If you are on a paycheck to paycheck budget, paying at the beginning of the month may be difficult. I would also ask if they include discounts for paying monthly if you’re able to! My kids’ daycare offers a 5% discount.
Do they offer any discounts?
First, you need to know how much tuition costs. Secondly, ask about any discounts they may offer. Discounts are awesome and can make a huge impact on your monthly expenses. My daycare offered a 10% discount for teachers. Check to see if they offer anything for specific professions. Also, check to see if they offer a second child discount. Even if this is your first child, it would be nice to know for future potential children.
Sometimes in addition to tuition, you have to pay a supply fee. Even though it might not be much, it still affects the amount you pay. Every little bit adds up.
Can you stop by at any time?
For me, this was one of the most important questions. I felt that if I was allowed to stop by at any time, they did not have anything to hide. For the first few weeks, I dropped by at different times of the day just to see what was going on.
What is the education of the teachers?
I would like to make sure that the teachers at the least have had experience with children before. A college degree in early childhood education is even better.
Do childcare workers wash their hands before and after meals? How often are bed sheets changed? If you walk in a childcare center and it smells like things are not cleaned regularly, I’d leave immediately.
Does the Daycare Have Video Cameras?
This is a good question to ask. Are you able to sit on the computer all day and watch your child? There are good reasons to have them and good ones not to have them. It is up to what you are most comfortable with. Our daycare doesn’t have cameras and I think I am OK with it.
Check to see if they have plans in place in case of a fire, tornado, or intruder. Hopefully these things never happen, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Also see what the policies are for checking your child in and out or having another person pick them up. It is important to know who is allowed in the building and how easy it is for them to enter.
Remember to always trust your gut when it comes to choosing a daycare! You know what is best for you and your child! Check to see if they have references to help ease your mind.
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If you would like a free printable about how to choose a daycare to take with you on your own daycare hunt, you can download a copy here.