Choosing a Daycare

Choosing a daycare can be one of the most nerve-wracking decisions that any parent has to make. Whether parents have newborn babies or school age children, finding a daycare is one of the most important processes for them to tackle. In many cities, there are thousands of choices in daycare providers, making it difficult to narrow down the choices to a single place where your child will spend his or her days. While most parents want a nurturing environment that provides some education, it can be hard to determine which providers will actually give you what you’re looking for. If you’re currently looking at daycare options and trying to decide what to do, ask yourself these questions.

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Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. What is a typical day like?
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    This is one of the most basic questions a parent can ask a daycare provider. It can also be one of the most informative, because it allows you to see how a typical day is planned for. Some daycares might have very strict schedules with scheduled time for snacks, coloring, and playing outside, while others may have a very open format to their day.
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  2. What is the policy on food and snacks?
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    This question is generally a lot more important to parents of infants, but it’s relevant to parents of children of all ages. Some centers like to get all of the children, including very young infants on the same feeding schedule. This means that they will only allow babies to eat at set times everyday. If that won’t work for your child, this type of daycare isn’t for them. For older children, ask about their policy on sharing food and snacks. Some places have long lists of “banned” foods.
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  3. What happens when a child is sick?
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    While all certified and registered daycares will require parents to keep a sick child at home, they might have slightly different definitions of what is considered to be a healthy child.
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  4. Is there a set curriculum?
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    A daycare is different from a preschool in that there is usually no formal education that takes place. Some places have a preschool component for their older children, however.
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  5. What is the nap schedule?
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    Like food, there are some places that stick to very strict schedules, and others that allow children to sleep when they want. Be sure to ask if naps are cut off at a certain point; no one wants to have a baby sleep all day at a daycare only to have him or her up all night.
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  6. What activities are provided during the day?
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    Take a look at the toys and equipment that are provided, but also look at how the children are interacting with those toys. For example, having a stack of board books in a room is good, but ask how often an adult reads the books.
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  7. How well does the school schedule fit with your family schedule?
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    Daycares have wildly different operating hours. In the case of in-home or private daycares, there might be built-in holidays or vacations during which there will be no care provided. You’ll have to make alternate arrangements for these days.
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  8. How is discipline handled?
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    This is generally a question for toddlers and school-aged children, but it’s a good idea to find out what the school policies are in advance. Be wary of places that try to impose discipline on children younger than 12 months; it’s really not age-appropriate.

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