There are many things to consider when searching for the best daycare for your family, which can understandably leave you feeling overwhelmed. Have no fear, in this post, we’ll walk through some of the main search criteria that parents use. This
should help you narrow down options and find the right child care.
Home-Based vs. Child Care Center
There are many benefits to both home-based care and centers. It comes down to the environment and benefits you feel are best for your child. For instance, home-based daycares typically offers more flexibility and can boast smaller groups of children which provides more one-on-one interaction and a “home-like” environment. Centers typically offer a larger and more structured environment. They have clear cut rules for both kids and parents and there is no concern when it comes to working around someone else’s sick or vacation days, which may occur with a small home-based provider.
Type of Program
After deciding whether you want a smaller home setting or a larger center, consider the type of teaching philosophy that would best fit with your family values. Is a faith-based program for you? Or, perhaps a bilingual language immersion daycare? Or maybe Montessori, Waldorf or some other play-based teaching philosophy would work best with your educational values and your child’s personality? Whatever it may be, think about teaching philosophy and the kind of early childhood education you want your child to receive. There are many religious, bilingual, Montessori home-based daycares and centers out there to choose from.
Some child care programs offer care for specific age groups. Some may provide care for infants and toddlers while others care for children over 2 years of age. When searching, make sure to look for child care programs that cater to your child’s age group.
Close Proximity to Home or Work
Any time saved in the car is time better spent with your family. When searching for a provider, it is helpful to find one that is close to your home or work to make commuting and travel time minimal.
One of the most crucial factors in selecting child care is affordability. Before spending too much time touring, be sure to inquire about tuition rates to make sure they are within your budget. Bear in mind that sometimes, during an in-person interview, providers may be willing to offer a lower rate than originally quoted.
Every family is different and has its own specific needs. Different child care programs offer different services which might or might not meet those needs. Do you need full-time or part-time care? Will your child need meals or transportation? Does your child have nut allergies? Think about the type of services your family might need and consider them in your child care search.
Does your child enjoy computers, playgrounds or swimming pools? Do you want to be able to see how your child is doing throughout the day with online video streaming? Some child care facilities have amazing features that you and your child would be thrilled about. If you or your child are particularly keen on certain amenities, include them in your search criteria and find a program that has them.
Have a tiny dancer at home or a Mozart in the making? Some child care and preschool programs offer extracurricular classes like dance, music, karate and cooking. Ask if your potential provider offers any such classes.
Hours of Operation
Have an early work meeting? Running behind in traffic? If you need extended care or just a back up plan for emergencies, look for a child care provider that offers longer hours of operation. Many daycares also offer before and after school care for older children. Keep in mind, however, the longer the hours, the higher the tuition rate.
You found a program you’re interested in? Great! Be sure to read reviews about the program before you enroll. In the reviews, you can hear directly from other parents about how happy or disappointed they are with the program. Previous personal experiences and opinions offer helpful insight to consider during your decision making process.
There is much to consider in your quest for the best daycare for your child. Following these steps will help you navigate your way through and prioritize what works best for you and your family.