Finding a Jewel-What to Look for…
For all of you who are parents, finding a daycare that is a perfect fit is not always easy. Quality childcare is not a guarantee, it’s a rare jewel, precious. Even if a childcare facility is top of the line, it may not be the best place for your family.
There are many types of childcare that are good. Is education top priority to you or would you rather have a passionate provider who deeply loves your child? Do you want someone who will treat your child like their own or someone who will care for your child in ways you would like them to be cared for? Some providers are open to suggestions, while others think they already know the best way to do things.
I have provided care for many parents who could not be happier with Little Sprouts, and I have also had multiple families who I could not please no matter how hard I tried. They were constantly dissatisfied with something. I think in those cases, our goals just did not line up. I cannot change myself or my beliefs to please people. I do try hard to provide the best quality care I possibly can, but I am not perfect, nor are my parents.
Childcare is personal. Each day I open my home to my families and allow them into my world. If you have another career, can you imagine having 5-7 families come into your home every day? Exposing your family to them and all of your possessions? Letting them see your clutter, and your dust? It’s an intimate relationship and it’s important the people I provide care for are people I trust. On the other side, it’s personal to families. They are not bringing their favorite watch or pillow here for me to care for, they are bringing me their CHILDREN. Human beings that are the very essence of them, the most precious thing in their lives. They have to trust me as well. It’s an extremely important relationship.
One provider may be great at encouraging parents while another may be wonderful at putting children at ease or teaching kids to write their names. Some providers may do lots of crafts with the kids and another may be a great at making the kids smile. We are each unique and we each have our own special skills and talents to offer. Even if someone is an amazing provider, they may not be the right provider for you. We all have flaws because we are human. You have to make sure the flaws your provider has are something you can live with. For me, safety is of utmost importance, I am organized, and crazy passionate about the development of my kids. But I have been told over and over again people do not appreciate my language. I don’t sit around dropping the “f” bomb or swearing around the kids, but I do think the word butt is funny and I might say something else parents may not like. That is me. To me those are not bad words. I don’t lie about it. If that’s a deal breaker, I can understand. I make sure to be honest and transparent about my short comings. Make sure you find the right fit for you and your child so your childcare days can be a positive experience for all of you.
What are some things parents can do to make sure they have the best situation possible?
The most important thing to remember is use your mommy vibe. It’s like spidey sense. It tells you if a situation is good or bad. If you get a bad feeling, run, don’t walk to the next option. Trust your instincts and listen to your heart. God gives moms intuition for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself.
What are some signs to look for when visiting a potential childcare setting?
Are they licensed? This is not always an indicator of quality, but you need to know if they are or not. A license comes with some protection because the provider is being monitored and required to have lifesaving training an unlicensed provider may or may not have. Here in Oklahoma, you can look on okdhs.org and see what your potential provider has been written up for if they are licensed.
Look around and check the childcare area for safety. If you see plug covers or bottles of cleaner lying around, you may want to check elsewhere.
Is there room for the kids to play and explore?
Are there quiet places for kids to retreat to if they are overwhelmed by the group? Is there something soft to sit on?
Does the environment smell like cigarette smoke? Do they have pets? Is your child allergic?
Are they trained in CPR and first aid?
Do they have references you can check? Ask. CHECK THEM! If your provider already cares for your friend’s children, ask questions about them. Get to know what others think about the provider so you can be more comfortable leaving your child.
Will they be cared for by the same person each day and for the entire day or is there staff change of some kind? Parents should be allowed to know who is directly caring for their child at all times.
Is there an open door policy? Can you visit at any time? Can you go in any area of the facility if you want to? If there are restrictions on when you can visit, that might be a red flag.
What is their discipline policy? How do they handle potty training?
Will your child receive one on one interaction and attention?
What is the provider’s temperament? Is that a temperament your child will respond well to?
What is the daily schedule? Do they follow it strictly?
Is the provider respectful of children? Respect for parents is important as well.
Children should be encouraged to be independent. Childcare is preparation for school and life. They need self-help skills, confidence and independence to be successful when they move forward.
What are the provider’s values and religious beliefs? Will those be shared with the children? My parents know God is the most important thing in my life. I have had many children over the years whose parents did not believe the way I do and they handled it in their own ways, but I was honest about my beliefs.
Take time for the interview or interviews. The time you spend in the facility before you start using the care is vital for your own peace of mind. Don’t rush it.
Make sure you have a backup plan in case you need it. Vacations, illnesses, and building problems do happen.
What days is the facility closed?
Pick up early or visit on your lunch break to see what the kids are doing when it’s not regular pick up time. This will help you see a greater piece of the children’s day. Be respectful. If you visit during nap time, be quiet. If you visit during lunch, don’t expect the provider’s full attention, they are busy.
Communication is key to making a provider/family relationship the best it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, give suggestions, or make requests. If all parties are open with each other, the childcare situation will be the best it can be.
Remember to trust your instincts. You know what your child and your family need.