If there’s one thing that every parent knows – it’s that time flies when you have kids. It seems like it was only yesterday when you found out your family was about to grow. And now – lo and behold! – it’s already time to pick a childcare center or Preschool. Regardless of your child’s age, this can be a tough decision, but maybe most so when choosing your baby’s first preschool. It’s only natural to always want the best for your little one. However, plenty of parents feel stumped. How exactly do you determine what best really means when it comes to the individual needs of your child? After all, every kid is special in his own way. Here are a few key factors to take into consideration when you find yourself at this crossroad.
Is it a welcoming environment?
Your child’s first contact with a school could have a major influence on their future attitude to education. As a parent it is important to gauge whether your child enjoys spending time at their center. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done. Starting daycare or preschool is a major event in any child’s life. Most young children experience separation anxiety at first, and need to adapt to spending a certain portion of their day without their parents. To prevent separation anxiety turning into a lasting issue, choose a preschool that feels warm and welcoming. Look for experienced, professional teachers who can provide an engaging supportive atmosphere. If your child feels accepted and safe, if their needs are met, and if they have fun at school, they will quickly get over the unease of being away from mom and dad.
“My son started Ivy Kids in September. I was worried that he would cry, but the teachers are so nurturing and caring, he didn’t even notice I left,” says one of our Ivy Kids moms, Beverly.
Will your child learn?
When deciding upon a childcare center, every parent hopes that their little one will get the best possible preparation for the day they start school. A carefully tailored curriculum is vital in this regard. Look for a curriculum that focuses on active learning and encourages children to develop a natural curiosity for the world around them. The best curriculum is the one which teaches kids to ask questions and search for the answers through fun, hands-on activities. One-size-fits-all programs are a dated idea. Look for educators who respect every child’s uniqueness, cater to various learning styles, and allow every kid to learn at their own pace. As Ivy Kids mom Suzanne says: “The reason I keep my children at Ivy Kids is because the well-trained staff sees every child as an individual, recognizing that each child is different.”
Is your child safe?
Safety is a major concern for every parent, and with good reason. Leaving your child in good hands will give you the peace of mind, so you can spend your time away from your little one in a productive way, and not overwhelmed by worry. A safe childcare center should have age-appropriate classrooms and playgrounds. All entrances should be locked and secured. Cameras will ensure that you can have a peek to make sure your little one is okay, if you ever miss them or wonder how they are doing. Staff should be alert and dedicated to the kids’ safety. It’s always wise to check whether the staff have appropriate CPR and First Aid certification and have received a thorough background check.
Will your child thrive?
Every child needs balanced, fresh, healthy meals to thrive. Look over the menu to make sure that it satisfies all the nutritional needs of a developing child. A tasty, wholesome meal plan will also help your child develop healthy eating habits that will last him a lifetime.
Striving for perfection
Once you are certain that a childcare center meets these basic criteria, you can focus on the extras that set them apart from the competition. Which center has the most modern and spacious facilities with the best equipment? Are the staff passionate about their professional development? Which enrichment programs does each school offer? How much time do children spend outdoors, and do they go on field trips often?
Choosing a childcare center or preschool is not a decision to make lightly. However, if you trust your intuition and always put your child first you can never go wrong. Download our Childcare checklist to help you when you tour and assess different childcare centers.