Parents live busier lives than ever, and sometimes, it can be challenging to meet work demands while trying to keep things running smoothly at home. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, more than half of all employees say their workload interferes with their personal responsibilities.
While some parents find that managing a job and their family is a challenge, some have somehow managed to balance parenthood with their career, and they did it by delegating some tasks, such as childcare.
It is not easy to attend to your child’s needs when you have other responsibilities, so the best thing to do is find people with the knowledge and capability to look after your little one while you are at work.
Often, the best solution is to look for a daycare, and there are some essential things you need to know before entrusting your precious child to someone else. Here is how to choose the right daycare and make the best decision for your child’s future.
Low Teacher-to-Child Ratio
One of the main things you should be looking for when searching for daycare is its teacher-to-child ratio. There should be one caregiver for infants and toddlers every three to four children. Meanwhile, for kids two to three years old, there should be one caregiver for every four to six children.
Kids, especially babies, need some one-on-one time. This individual time helps them feel safe and secure. Having one-on-one time also prevents children from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or sad. Therefore, daycares must follow the guidelines for the children to thrive.
Note that childcare staff ratio standards can differ depending on where you live. In Australia, for instance, the ratio of newborns to 24 months is 1:4 in all states and territories. In the United States, federal law requires that for infants younger than 12 months, there should be one caregiver for no more than three infants.
Clean and Well-Appointed Facilities
When visiting daycare centers, see that the facilities are clean and well-appointed. Are the floors, equipment, bathrooms, and waiting areas clean? Is there adequate lighting in the building? Are there no health and safety hazards in and out of the premises? Finally, are the bins emptied regularly or overflowing with garbage? These are the things that you need to be on the lookout for.
You also need to observe if there are enough toys for all the kids and if they provide some educational toys to help children learn while they play. There should also be enough sleeping pads and blankets for the kids, cribs and mattresses, cots, storage units, strollers, and step stools, to name a few. In addition, daycare centers should also make it a point to have duplicates of popular toys to prevent tantrums or fights from breaking out over them.
Anyone can have the teaching to look after a child, so caregivers with only a high school diploma are qualified to work in a daycare center if parents only look for someone warm and capable of caring for their little ones. However, some daycare centers require a higher level of education when hiring staff, and this is because they put a high value on education.
For instance, daycares with a Montessori or Waldorf approach to learning may require their caregivers and teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, other daycare centers may require their caregivers to attend seminars and workshops to further their childcare knowledge regularly. Also, training in child development and early childhood education is necessary before becoming tasked to look after kids.
Apart from their educational background, observing the staff while interacting with children also pays to gauge their competence and overall attitude towards kids. Qualified staff have good communication skills, whether talking to parents or children, and tend to be very friendly. They are also artistic and creative, and they find new ways to teach kids to make learning more fun and inviting for them.
Communicates Well With Parents
A good daycare center makes it a point to keep parents posted on what is going on with their kids and the business. Rules and guidelines are printed in a handbook or manual and received by parents upon enrollment. The same rules should also be on the daycare’s website for everyone to see. The daycare should also know how to use modern technology to keep parents updated, whether through Facebook, a Viber group message, emails, or the like.
Some daycares have cameras that live stream everything inside the building to give parents peace of mind. Daycares are not required to do so; ultimately, it is your choice to pick a daycare center with a camera. Remember, there are pros and cons to having live video access to your kid’s daycare. One advantage is you can see your little one and feel reassured they are getting the care that they need. On the other hand, it can be highly distracting, and obsessively watching the stream can prevent you from being productive at work. If you choose to view the live stream, make it a point to keep it on only part of the day and check in during your breaks so you can focus on your tasks.
Consistent Rules and Policies
The ideal daycare center will have consistent rules and policies that align with your values and parenting style. Ask about their meal and nap times policy and what they do if kids need to take a time-out. In addition, ask what they do to discipline unruly kids and how they reward good behavior.
Also, observe the kids to see if the daycare will fit your child well. If the children seem happy, clean, well-adjusted, and cared for, that is a sign that you and your little one are in the right place.
Finding the perfect daycare for your child may take a few visits. But once you do, you will have peace of mind knowing that your little one is in a place where they will learn, play, and be cared for while you are at work.
Bio – Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.