If you're about to put your child into a child care or day care program, you know you have to ask about licenses, background checks, and accreditation. But if this is also your first time dealing with day care, you also need to ask a lot more about how the center functions. Even if everyone looks happy and seems to be healthy, you have to be sure that your concept of what your child will experience each day matches up with the reality. Be sure to ask about the following:
Educational Focus vs. Caretaking Focus
Some child care focuses on watching the child until you come to get him or her -- babysitting, in other words -- while others focus on a more educational track. If you want your child to have a form of tutoring or schooling, or even just play that has a hidden educational benefit to it, then an educational-style child care program would obviously be better. Don't expect formal classes, though the activities at these child care centers will have more of a point to them than just ensuring someone is watching the kids.
What They Do About Sick Kids
People bring their children to day care because they are unable to watch over their children for part of the day. That creates a problem when the child is very sick. If the parent still can't watch over them, he or she might still bring the child to the day care center, putting everyone else at risk of catching whatever the first kid has. Find out what the center's policy on sick children is. Do they allow them in but quarantine them in another room? Are they mingling with other kids? Or are sick kids sent home? You need to know this if your child gets sick, too.
How Often the Teachers/Caregivers Change
There are two reasons why you should find out about teacher or caregiver turnover. One is that kids can react badly to changes in personnel. If there's a lot of turnover, the time spent at the day care center might seem less cohesive to the child and less comforting. The other reason is that, if a lot of people leave constantly, it could say something about the quality of the center.
Don't be afraid to tour the centers and speak to the caregivers. Ask if there are any parents willing to speak with you, too. Eventually, you'll find a program that fits your child well. Talk to a professional at Kaye Kare Child Care Center to get started.