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10 things to consider when looking for a daycare. (Part 3)

     At last, here is my final installment of things to consider when looking for a daycare.  You can find part one, and two on my previous blog posts.

     I have had quite of bit of experience working with children since I graduated college with my BA in Early Childhood Education, almost 10 years ago (OH MY!).  During this time I have mostly worked at daycares, with a few years subbing in elementary schools.  I have worked at daycares in four states and have seen firsthand what parents should be looking for when making this big decision.  Here is a list of what I feel to be 10 of the biggest things that you should be considering when doing your research.

7.  Outside playgrounds - There should ALWAYS be an outdoor playground for children.  This is a place where they can run and get out their energy, since running is not recommended inside usually.  Daily physical activity is essential for young children to endorse a healthy lifestyle and prevent such problems as obesity.  There should be outdoor time everyday, at least twice (if it's a full day child care center).
     Safety is just as important outside as it is inside.  The playground equipment must be age appropriate and the ground needs to be covered properly.  Often times, centers will use mulch or sand underneath big pieces as a safe fall zone.  Having swings, or a jungle gym, on top of the bare ground, or pavement, is not okay.
     Also, it is not required, but best practice to still have different areas of "play" outside.  There should be a place to improve gross motor skills, such as the big play sets, as well as fine motor skills, such as a sand or water table.  There should be a picnic table, or shaded space, where children can read a book quietly or have imaginative play.  Buckets, shovels, and castle makers should be available to let the children explore and use cognitive thinking.  Finally, each age group should have their own playground for safety issues.

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8.  Illness policy - It is important to know the daycare's policy on sickness.  Does a fever, throwing up, or belly aches require being sent home? Not being able to return for a certain amount of time, is often the case.  Ask to see the center's handbook on this issue so that it is clear from the start what their proper procedures are in this matter.

9.  Parent Responsibilities - There are also things that the parents must do to help the center take the best care of their little ones.  Parents must always provide the center with the most up to date contact information.  Even if you plan on being in a different office for only one day, please let them know of how they can contact you.  Emergencies come up, like the child being sick, or even a fire in a building.      If you have any concerns, bring them directly to that person, or the director.  Do not let that complaint sit with you without saying anything.  It can not be fixed, unless the center is made aware of the problem.
     Have a backup plan in case of emergencies.   If your child is sick, and cannot go to the center until fever free, for example, you need to have someone you can call on in short notice.  Most people can not get off of work to easily so this is important to set up.
     Notify the center of any allergies or medical issues that your child may have.  This is a simple way of preventing a major problem. 

10.   Gut feeling - You as a parent will know right away whether or not you feel comfortable with a particular center.  Don't rely on only positive recommendations, because if you feel something is off, it
may not be a good fit for your family.  You need to feel safe when leaving your child when they are not with you. 


  1. As a mother of a special needs son and also three girls who attended preschool and elementary school with special needs children I'd like to encourage you, as the author and all the other parents reading your article, to also consider inclusion programs or programs for special needs children. A lot of these programs also enroll typical children. Typical children, who school with special needs children, learn tolerance and acceptance much earlier than other children their age. Special needs children need interaction with typical children also. I also encourage any teacher or trained childcare provider out there to take yearly training and/or college courses specializing in working with special needs children. In this day and age a majority of children have non-diagnosed or quirky behaviors. We as adults need to know what we didn't learn as children. We need knowledge, tolerance and caring of all diversity in our daily lives.


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