How We Chose A Daycare Center For Our Toddler

My shy toddler visiting “school” for the first time.

After I was offered a new six-month gig with a fantastic company, my husband and I decided that it was time to move Harrison to a daycare/school setting as opposed to continuing his care under a private nanny.  It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, as our nanny has done an incredible job for two years and she shares a sweet bond with Harrison.  However, we felt it was best for him socially and verbally to be in a center with structure and other children.

Last week, Harrison and I visited his new “school” every day for an hour or so, eating lunch and playing with the other children.  Since he had never been in that environment before, it was extremely important to me for him (and me!) to feel comfortable with the new digs.

Today was his first day and I am THRILLED to say that he received a glowing “report” from his teachers, participated in all but one activity, ate his lunch and even napped for 90 minutes.  Way to go, little buddy!  It even further validates my feelings that we picked the perfect daycare for him.

These were the “guidelines” we used to decide which daycare was best:

  • Who’s in charge? 1 of 12
    Who's in charge?
    I visited centers where the owner was the director or the owner was never present and the director was frantic. We chose a school where both owners and directors are on campus during operating hours to handle any emergency or questions.
  • Willingness to work with special requests and needs. 2 of 12
    Willingness to work with special requests and needs.
    My son receives speech therapy once per week and it was important that he be able to continue under his same therapist. We chose a daycare that has a special room where he can work without distractions of the other children during therapy.
  • A great outdoors program. 3 of 12
    A great outdoors program.
    Harrison LOVES to be outside, so we chose a school with a covered playground, exciting equipment, secure gates, and lots of room to run.
  • Close your eyes, baby. 4 of 12
    Close your eyes, baby.
    Harrison still needs a mid-day nap, so we chose a center where almost-3-year-olds still rested a few hours in the afternoon.
  • Bring your lunch? Or let the center provide? 5 of 12
    Bring your lunch?  Or let the center provide?
    Harrison is a picky eater, so I was thrilled to find out that I could pack his lunch for him, as long as I followed the North Carolina laws to provide a balanced lunch (1 grain, 1 dairy, 1 protein, 2 fruit/vegetables). He has no food allergies so I wasn't concerned that our school isn't peanut-free...but this is an important question to ask!
  • Peer pressure. 6 of 12
    Peer pressure.
    How are the other kids? Are they friendly and kind and respecting the teachers? I spent just as much time observing the other children as I did the teachers.
  • Level of expertise. 7 of 12
    Level of expertise.
    It's not the same for everyone (and that's okay!) but at the top of our list was college-educated teachers with a strong background in early childhood development. It's okay to ask about the highest level of education, continuing education, training, etc. that the teachers are either required to do or have access to.
  • Remember Reading Rainbow? 8 of 12
    Remember Reading Rainbow?
    As a book nerd, I get giddy when I see "reading centers" in classrooms. There's a wee couch in Harry's classroom with loads of books. Plus, they do book fairs and book drives to get fresh reads into the rooms.
  • Fostering creativity. 9 of 12
    Fostering creativity.
    All that stuff that "perfect moms" do that the rest of us can never seem to stomach? Daycare does it. Today Harrison painted to classical music. Who knows if it will turn him into the next toddler genius, but it's a fun giggle at the end of the day for the parents.
  • Let them be kids, yo. 10 of 12
    Let them be kids, yo.
    When visiting daycares, I asked to see a daily schedule. I think it's very important for kids to have "free play" with no guide, where they are free to use imagination.
  • Open door policy. 11 of 12
    Open door policy.
    I'm free to drop off, pick up, and stop in unannounced and at any time. SURPRISE! IT'S MOMMA!
  • Ask a friend. 12 of 12
    Ask a friend.
    Do you have a friend that is thrilled with her daycare? Ask what she loves best, pay it a visit, etc. I take word-of-mouth froma trusted friend way over star ratings on a website.

What influenced you to decide on childcare?

Related Posts:
Is Daycare “School?”

Choosing  Daycare Versus Nanny

To Preschool Or Not To Preschool

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures on The Heir to Blair.
You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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