For many parents, a continual pressing issue is finding adequate childcare, especially if they both work full-time. Most of the time, the child is too young to stay home alone by themselves, but even for kids who might be old enough, parents worry that they’ll simply park themselves in front of the TV, computer, tablet, or laptop with the time alone. Preschool can be an excellent way to keep very young children occupied for at least some of the time during the school year, but summers and long holiday breaks can be especially challenging for parents. Almost 25% of kids under the age of five participate in some kind of organized childcare arrangement, like preschool, day care centers, or nurseries. If you’re looking for a great day care program, read on below to find some tips to get your child in the hands of trusted child care professionals.
What Is Day Care?
Daycare is one of the aforementioned types of childcare that help out working parents (or parents who just need a few hours to themselves to get things done!) The child is dropped off during the day and the staff takes care of the kids and often provides educational opportunities, snacks, and supervision.
There are all types of daycares — ones that take care of infants and pre-schoolers, and ones that handle before or after school care for kids who are in school. Some might model preschool with more set schedules for older children, and can either be national or local chains or owned privately.
Some day cares might have a formal building and staff running the daycare program, while others might be run by just one person from their home.
How Does a Great Day Care Benefit Me and My Kids?
A daycare center can make a world of difference, plugging in awkward gaps of times for working parents (for example, before or after school care) or providing a safe, welcoming, and educational environment for much younger children who aren’t in school yet. Plus, if there’s an unexpected snow day or day off school, many day cares will be open.
They usually have a flat rate for care which can be much more affordable than paying a babysitter. (And in some cases, a babysitter might not even be possible, since many babysitters are in school themselves.)
For those who can’t — or don’t want to — employ a live-in nanny, a great day care can put parents’ minds at rest about what their children are up to and whether or not they’re safe. You know that trusted child care professionals are watching over your child when you can’t be.
And on the kids’ part, they’ll be learning to interact with others, be in a more formal educational setting, and have fun. They’ll be stimulated socially, educationally, and often emotionally and physically as well.
How to Choose the Right Day Care Center
Choosing child care is an important decision to make for any parent, and you want a great day care for your child. Price and hours of operation are of course, important, as might be the distance from your home.
You should visit the daycare and see if it’s clean, brightly lit, and how the staff interacts with the children. Are they left to their own devices or are they being engaged by staff and other children? Are there organized activities? Find out the qualifications of the staff and what the ratio of staff to child is. You should also see what the disciplinary measures of the center are, as well as the “parenting” style they use.
If the daycare feeds your child, what are they being fed? Do you need to pack them a lunch or snacks? And, of course, how does the center communicate with you? These are all questions you should be considering as you look at day care centers.
A great day care center can make a huge difference for your family. It will provide peace of mind for you and your partner and a fun, safe, and educational opportunity for your child.