Selecting a daycare provider is one of the hardest things a parent will ever do, regardless of the reason for why you are doing it. Some of us have to work for financial reasons (like me) or because we know our mental health would never hold up to staying home (like me) or just because we enjoy working (like me).
Whatever your reason, here are some tips for selecting a daycare provider:
- Know what you want… All daycare providers are different. Some are strict, some are relaxed, some have a learning focused environment, some of them focus on play. It is important to have an idea of what type of environment you want for your children before you start your research. One of the reasons I fell in love with my first daycare was because when I did a tour the infant room teacher was sitting on the floor with babies crawling all over her while she loved and hugged on them. That’s what I wanted for my baby.
- Know where they are… I did a Google search for daycare centers for the town where I live and where I work. I looked at all of the neighborhoods to see what centers would be convenient for me and ruled out areas that I knew would not work. (Let’s be real. All towns have at least one bad neighborhood.) This allowed me to cut down my list of potential centers.
- Know the law… In Texas all of the regulations are posted on the internet. Go to your state licensing agency and read the rules and regulations before you schedule a tour at potential centers. That way when you walk in you will be able to spot if they are doing anything blatantly against the rules, like not having enough people assigned per age group.
- Know where they stand… Texas also posts all reviews online so that you can find the deficiencies for all of the schools that interest you. Do be aware that the auditors that go into these locations are super, super picky and will write up tiny things and make them sound really bad. So while this can be good information, read it with a judgmental eye.
- Know what your friends know… Ask everyone you know every question you can think of. No question is too large or small. You can learn more by asking people you trust than you ever will through any other method.
- Know when it is time to move… One center may not always fit your needs. In the beginning I loved the center we where we were. As my daughter got older her needs changed, and also management changed. I was not happy with things for awhile. It took me a long time to make a decision about moving my children. Some of the workers there were like family. They rocked my babies to sleep, potty trained them, taught them their ABC’s… But still. There comes a time when you have to listen to your heart. When that time comes you need to be sure to follow your intuition.
Do you have any tips for finding a daycare provider?
Jennifer Williams is a full-time working mom of two kids. You can find her at her blog and Facebook.
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