How to Choose the Right Day Care Center

Swimming lessons for preschoolers

The period between birth and when a child reaches the age of three is said to include the most rapid growth in the brain that a person ever experiences. Today, in the United States, a great number of children who are under the age of five are in some sort of formal educational program. It has been estimated that about 87% of these children are in preschools, daycare centers, and nurseries. Many parents are not sure how to choose the right day care center for their child. Here are some things you can do to find the best preschool options for your family.

  1. Start early. If you know you are going to want to find a good day care center or need preschool options, you should start looking well before you plan to enroll your child. There may be a waiting list for the school or program you want. Because it may take longer to talk to different schools and programs and vet all of your options, you will be well served by starting early.
  2. Talk to your friends and family. If you have children, you probably know other people who do as well. One of the best ways to find decent products and services is to get a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust. This is even more true when it comes to how to choose the right day care center. Talk to the people in your life whom you trust about how they found the day care center they use and what they thought of the process. You may not go with the same program but this can help you get started.
  3. Talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can be a great resource for parents. Of course, they can help keep your child healthy but they can also give you a lot of other information about things such as how to choose the right day care center for your child. Because they deal with a large number of parents, they hear about a lot of different options for preschool programs and other programs that may interest you. If you have not talked to them, you should. They may be more helpful than you can imagine.
  4. Look online. You can find just about everything online and when you need to know how to choose the right day care center, a simple search with Google or Bing can yield great results. In the first place, top notch day care centers will have websites and you should be able to get reviews from parents and others. You can also check Yelp, Angie’s List and Facebook for more information. Many cities and towns have great Facebook groups and pages set up to promote local businesses so you should check those out as well.
  5. Go to the centers and tour them. It is not enough to look up day care centers online and call them. You need to take some time to go out and tour them and talk to the staff and the teachers. Here are some things you should ask about:
    • Look at how the kids interact with the staff. This can be very telling. You should listen to the words they use but also look at their body language. Good day care center staff will get down so they are closer to the children they are taking care of.
    • Ask about turnover. You should go with a day care center who treats its staff well and has little in the way of employee turnover. You want to leave your children with people who like working with kids.
    • Ask about their policy for discipline. You should know that they will not be teaching your child things that contradict what you teach them at home.
    • Ask about the schedule. Kids do better when they have a routine. Nap time and the times when they get meals or snacks should be at the same time every day.
  6. Go with your gut. If you go to a place and something does not feel right, keep looking. By the same token, if you get a great feeling from a place, you should listen to that. Your gut instincts are important and can help you.