There are many factors that go into picking the best daycare for your infant, toddler, or preschooler. Some things are essential in any daycare: educated and compassionate caregivers, clean and safe facilities and equipment, and a child care license (if applicable in your state). Here are 28 questions you might ask to help you pick the best daycare for your child.
- What is the staff-to-child ratio?
- Do the caregivers/educators encourage independent learning and investigation?
- How long are the children outside each day?
- Can you accommodate special diets or allergies?
- Can I see a sample weekly menu?
- How will you keep me updated about my child’s progress?
- How do you assess a child’s progress?
- Are your toys and other play equipment age-appropriate?
- How often are the toys and equipment evaluated for safety?
- How do you accommodate differing cultural practices?
- How do you accommodate children with special needs?
- Why are your offered activities chosen?
- Are naps taken on a schedule, or when the child needs one?
- How do you handle conflicts between children?
- What are your policies about discipline?
- Can I drop in at any time to see my child?
- How can I be involved in activities or decisions?
- What is your policy regarding illnesses?
- What is your process for giving medication?
- How do you monitor the children and the facility?
- How do you monitor or screen visitors?
- What are your emergency procedures?
- Will the same caregivers be with my child each day?
- What are your policies about field trips?
- Do you provide opportunities for learning about music, dance, or art?
- How do you teach math, numbers, and counting?
- How do you help to develop literacy skills?
- Do you have a before/after school program?
These 28 questions are not the only ones you might want to ask your prospective daycare, but they provide a good foundation for determining your most important wants and needs.
When you’re looking for a good daycare, think also about the attitudes and behaviors you value and want your child to value as well. For example, do you want him to have a controlled learning experience, or would you prefer a daycare that guides him based on his existing questions and interests? A good daycare should fit in well with your values and lifestyle.
When investigating daycare centers, look for one that aligns with your own values and philosophies as much as possible. There are many different daycare centers you can choose from, and asking the right questions can help you find the one that works best for your child and your family.