Scouting a new child care center sounds easy, but take it from us — there is a lot more to it than you think. Here at Buzy Beez Child Care Center, we pride ourselves on many things: age appropriate games and activities, re-directional discipline policies, encouraging development and growth, and lots of love and compassion.
However, we want to make sure all potential parents and children are going to feel safe, secure, and at home with us. As should any other child care center. Whether it is our center or another, the following 20 questions will help parents determine if they are making the best possible decision before placing their child at a new center.
- Did you have a positive reaction upon entering the child care center for the first time? Looks can sometimes be deceiving, but a first impression does leave a lasting impression.
- Does the child care center look clean? Whether children are in the middle of a game or project or teachers are still cleaning up from lunch, there will always be some type of mess until all of the children have gone home for the night. However, the child care center should have an general sense of cleanliness.
- Does the center look safe? Some things to look for are safety plugs in all of the outlets, any toxic and hazardous substances out of reach of children, and toy hazards such as choking and tripping.
- Are most kids laughing and playing? Kids will be kids and you know that you can’t please them all. However, the overall noise coming from any exceptional child care center is laughter and cheer. Every child should also be playing some sort of game or participating in an activity.
- How are the teachers interacting with the kids? Are they sitting on the floor or low to the ground or are they watching from afar while being primarily preoccupied with something else? The answer to this question should be the former.
- What is the child-to-teacher ratio? According to the National Accreditation for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC, the child-to-teacher ratio is dependent upon age range and group size. You can view the child-to-teacher best practices chart here.
- Are projects proudly displayed on the center or classroom walls? By looking at the artwork completed by the children currently attending the center, you can get a good sense of the curriculum presented by the teachers.
- Are their age appropriate games and projects? When researching a child care center, it is important to pay attention to the types of games and projects and not just the quantity. A game that is appropriate for a preschooler is certainly too advanced for an infant. Similarly, a toy that stimulates an infant will hinder the growth of a preschooler.
- Can you see your child growing socially and mentally at this child care center? A true child care center will provide far more than babysitting services. You want a center that will be able to understand and encourage the development of your child both socially and mentally. Will your child learn how to count? Will your child learn his or her ABCs? How about colors, shapes, and site words? Will your child learn about love and compassion? Sharing and helping? You want your child to be the best he or she can be, which is why you need a child care center that can offer the best services for your child’s overall needs.
- If you take a look outside, do you see that the playground is surrounded by a fence? Be sure to check any gates opening to outside the playground area and if they are padlocked shut to keep children in and keep strangers out.
- Does the center have visible emergency plans hanging on the wall? This information should be hanging in a common area for parents to see so they are aware of the practices that will take place upon an emergency. Look for protocols and where staff and children will be located upon an evacuation.
- Are all of the teachers CPR and First Aid certified? If not, there should be at least one teacher per room certified in each classroom at all times. Safety first. Safety last. Safety always.
- How are food and other allergies handled within the child care center? Many centers who care for children with nut allergies will completely omit all nut items from their menus to avoid any possible outbreaks. Be sure to ask this very important question if your child suffers from any type of allergy — diagnosed or potential.
- What type of disciple policy does the child care center follow? Is this an appropriate policy? Is this a policy that you agree with? Is this a policy that is effective with your child? If not, speak with the site director about appropriate discipline techniques you use at home that will work for your child. They will likely be more than happy to accommodate.
- Do you see up-to-date inspection reports and licensing documents? If you do not see any documentation regarding inspections or licensing, this should be a giant red flag to walk away. However, any legitimate child care center will be proud to display its inspection reports and licensing information.
- Is there a designated area for changing diapers, going potty, and washing hands? Keep in mind that this should be in a completely separate area from food handling and preparation.
- Does the site director have all of the necessary qualifications to run the child care center? If the owner of the child care center is employing an unqualified individual to operate the center, then this is another red flag sign to walk away. However, there are situations where the director may have a waiver if he or she will obtain the appropriate qualifications by a specific date.
- Do the teachers have all of the necessary qualifications for their roles within the classroom? Keep in mind that not all teachers, depending on their level (i.e., lead teacher, associate teacher, aide, etc.) on their level of authority, need all of the same qualifications.
- Are you able to find both positive and negative reviews of the child care center? Whether you find the reviews online or through word-of-mouth, it is important to hear what other parents, both past and present, have to say about the center. It may also help to speak with former employees about what the site director and staff are really like.
- Overall, would you feel comfortable leaving your child at the center? This one should be easy: yes or no. If you are still uncertain, setup a time to speak one-on-one with the site director and potential teacher for your child. Also ask if you can bring in your child to see how he or she interacts at the child care center.
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