What to Look for When Choosing a Daycare Center?
Here’s our best advice on choosing a daycare center. Daycare should be a weekday joy for all children. It would be best if you were confident in your daycare decision knowing that your child is safe, well-fed, and stimulated with age-appropriate activities for the body and mind.
Here’s what we recommend you look for in a daycare center:
#1 Welcoming and Fun Environment is First When Choosing a Daycare Center
A daycare center should be welcoming and fun for children. This means toys, books, an outdoor playground, indoor play areas, and much more. Kids are active and need room to play and learn. They also need adults who will answer questions, teach age-appropriate skills, and care for them.
When you’re looking for a daycare center, we recommend taking a tour. While on your tour, consider these items related to the general environment:
- Do the employees greet kids by name?
- Do you see fun play items?
- Are kids having fun?
- Are there age-appropriate toys?
- Are you able to ask employees questions and get answers?
- Do the teachers seem happy?
#2 Caring, Highly Trained, and Educated Daycare Employees
Employees at a daycare center should be trained to work with kids. It common for daycare employees to have college degrees, associate degrees, or a Child Development Credential commonly referred to as CDA. But, the most important experience is known as “in the field experience.” This means employees have worked with kids in a daycare setting.
It’s typical to have employees with different levels of training working at one center. The center should promote ongoing learning for each employee and collaboration between employees. Basic ongoing learning includes staying up to date on CPR and first aid certifications. Additional training should include age-appropriate learning. For example, how to potty train, teaching fine motor skills, or brain development courses.
While on your tour, consider asking a few of these daycare employee training questions:
- What type of ongoing training do employees take?
- How do you handle potty training?
- What type of daycare-age training has been completed recently?
- What ongoing training do your employees complete?
- Are employees trained in CPR and first aid?
It’s important to have good communication with the employees at the daycare center of your choosing. The employees are often experts in the field of child development and are working with your child on her skills, so she’s ready for Kindergarten. You want to be able to get help when you need it and raise concerns if needed.
When choosing a daycare center, consider how communication is going to work between you and the daycare center:
- What types of communication can I expect? When? How often?
- Can I ask my child’s teacher questions?
- Do I feel like I’m going to know what skills my child is working on and when?
- Is there an established way to communicate between employees and parents?
- Are the employees relatable for my child?
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we use an app called LifeCubby to communicate about progress and the fun that your child is having at daycare. Should an issue arise, we make sure you know about it and are here to figure out a better approach and make positive changes. Plus, we enjoy answering questions from parents and have a proactive approach to communication.
#4 Skill Building and Learning is Important at Daycare
The purpose of daycare is for your child to be in a safe environment where they can learn and have fun. A high-quality daycare center will have a curriculum that builds your child’s skills, so they’re prepared for Kindergarten. It’s important for daycare centers to be well organized and to have a daily routine for kids.
While on your daycare tour, consider asking a few of these questions related to daycare learning:
- What type of research-based curriculum does the center use? Is it scaffolded based on age?
- Do the employees have the flexibility to make changes to learning based on your child’s learning needs?
- Does the center encourage employees to be collaborative to find the best learning solution?
- Is there a schedule for meals?
- Is there a schedule of daily activities?
#5 Daycare Licensing & Accreditation When Choosing a Daycare Center
State-level licensing is a minimum standard for daycare regulation. A license is permission to run the business. Licensing does not directly indicate care quality. In addition to licensing, high-quality care centers will seek national accreditation and additional state accreditation.
- NAEYC Accreditation – The National Association for the Education of Young Children has accreditated Memories & Milestones Academy. You can verify our accreditation here. NAEYC helps us stay up to date on the latest research related to children. It also helps us to problem-solve with our peers when needed.
- Parents Aware 4-Start Rating – We are a 4-Star Rated Parents Aware program. This means we meet and exceed the standards monitored by Minnesota’s Quality Rating and Improvement System.
While on your daycare tour, consider asking a few of these questions related to daycare licensing and accreditation:
- What accreditations do you have? Can I see them?
- Is your state license up to date?
- What do enrolled families typically say about daycare at your center?
#6 Safety and Security at a Daycare Center
The safety of your children is critical when choosing a daycare center. A high-quality center will have security cameras, a child check-in and check-out system, greet kids by name at the door, playground fencing, childproofing, emergency plans, and a general approach to keeping everyone safe and healthy.
While on your daycare tour, consider asking a few of these questions related to safety and security:
- Does the center have locked doors, cameras, and other security measures in place?
- Has childproofing being implemented? For example, is the bookcase secured to the wall?
- Do toys and books seem to have a place?
- Is the infant toy area separate from the toddler and preschool areas? For example, you don’t want tiny bits of toys around everywhere, as they could be a choking hazard depending on the child’s age.
- What are the child check-in and check-out procedures?
- What are emergency plans?
Take a Tour When Choosing a Daycare
Finally, there’s no getting around it; we recommend taking a tour of any daycare center you are considering for enrollment. You want to choose the best daycare center to fit your needs. In general, the following questions will give you a good sense of a daycare center:
- What is your daycare philosophy?
- What are your discipline policies?
- What type of meals do you serve?
- How do you approach potty training?
- What type of interaction is there between children in different age groups?
- What teacher might my child have in her classroom?
- What cleaning protocols do you have in place?
About Memories & Milestones Academy
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we’re happy to answer all questions and provide a complimentary walk-thru tour for our daycare program. Contact us to schedule your tour of our daycare center in New Prague or Belle Plaine.
We’re proud to be the top daycare provider in Belle Plaine and New Prague. Our enrolled families regularly recommend us to family and friends. Our employees enjoy working here and help to recruit additional teachers.