Tips to Help You Choose the Right Caregiver for Your Child
It’s normal for parents to feel weary leaving their child at a daycare for the first time. But with the right daycare provider, you can rest at ease knowing your child is in good hands.
How do you choose the right provider, though? It’s a big task, one that’s often daunting and overwhelming, but we’ve put together a few helpful questions to ask potential providers to lend a hand and make things a bit easier. You’ll also find some insight, advice, and tips on making a smooth transition that’ll leave your little one—and you—feeling good about the transition to daycare or preschool.
Let’s get started!
Key Questions to Ask and Consider When Visiting or Choosing A Preschool
1 – What qualifications do your staff members have?
Daycare and preschool teacher education have an impact on development and early learning for children. Kids learn the most socially, cognitively, and emotionally when their teachers have education and training that specialize in early childhood education.
Besides education credentials, staff should also have clear background and police checks, and first aid and CPR training to ensure children are safe.
2 – What is Your Staff-To-Child Ratio?
The Ontario government requires licensed child care centres to meet a staff-to-child ratio based on children’s ages.
- For infants (younger than 18 months), the staff-to-child ratio is 3 to 10;
- For toddlers (18 months or older but younger than 30 months), the staff-to-child ratio is 1 to 5; and,
- With preschool-age children (30 months or older but younger than six years), the staff-to-child ratio is 1 to 8.
3 – How Do You Handle Discipline?
Ask caregivers how they would handle discipline in different scenarios to see if their approach to discipline matches your preferences. Obviously, quality daycares will not engage in verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, but you should always confirm . Scolding, raised voices, and timeouts might have been common in your childhood, but they’re not the norm these days. Instead, daycare workers should be positive and nurturing.
4 – What Activities and Routines Do You Provide?
Since children thrive in structured environments, you’ll want to consider daycare centres that follow a daily routine such as scheduled play, snack, meal, nap, and reading times.
Their activities should involve structured and free play time. And there should be age-appropriate toys and activities to nourish child development. Look for a minimum if seven key learning areas that include sand, water, art, books, blocks, puzzles, games, and dress-up.
5 – Do You Provide Opportunities for Indoor and Outdoor Play?
Ontario daycares must have designated indoor and outdoor play areas. And these areas must be suitable for the number of kids at the daycare. Indoor play areas must be 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) per child, and fenced outdoor areas must be 5.6 square metres (60 square feet) per child.
6 – How Do You Approach Diversity?
Daycares that promote inclusivity help children grow up to be kind, respectful people. Daycares might celebrate different cultures with books, games, and foods while avoiding exclusive language. And some daycares may offer specialized help for children with learning difficulties.
7 – How Will You Communicate My Child’s Progress?
Licensed caregivers will often provide parents with progress reports on their children. These reports include updates on how a child is progressing along with other important information regarding a child’s well-being and development.
What Is the Difference Between A Daycare and A Preschool Program?
Daycare, preschool… what, exactly, is the difference between the two? While both early education daycare and preschool programs are forms of childcare that promote child development through engaging activities and play in a structured environment, daycare is usually for infants and toddlers, and preschool is for children aged 30 months to five years old.
Preschool programs, such as at our Kanata preschool, also follow provincial curriculums like Ontario’s ELECT (Early Learning for Every Child Today) initiative.
How to Prepare and Transition Your Child to Daycare Or Preschool
The first days of daycare or preschool can be a big transition for your child. To make this exciting time easier, here are some tips to prepare your child for the change.
Before the First Day
- Bring your child to the childcare centre to meet their new caregivers and peers. This will help them become familiar with the setting so they won’t be afraid of the new place when they start daycare or preschool.
- If your child is older, talk to them about their new schedule during the day, the activities they’ll take part in, and the people they’ll spend their time with.
- If you’ll be starting a new routine to get to daycare in the morning, start following your new schedule several days before the first day. This will include waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast earlier. Introducing a new routine ahead of time will make for a smoother transition for your child come the first day.
During the First Days & Weeks
- Put a departure plan in place for drop-off. Take some advice from child care providers: make drop-offs short and sweet with a quick, confident goodbye. Avoid lingering or saying, “I’ll miss you.”
- Ask the childcare provider how long your child cries for after you leave. Kids usually stop crying shortly after their parents leave, so don’t worry!
- Be positive and friendly with staff during drop-off. Kids pick up on emotions and will be influenced by them, so keep a happy, positive tone.
- If possible, start daycare gradually. Bring your child for an hour and leave together on the first day. Then increase the amount of time spent in daycare over the next few days. And gradually increase the time at daycare until your child can spend a whole day.
- Tell your child you’re going to work and will be back at a time they can understand, such as after nap time or afternoon play time.
- Another option is to start with part-time daycare two or three days a week before you go back to work full-time. So by the time you go back to work, your child can easily transition to a full week of daycare.
- Ask staff if your child can bring their favourite toy or another comfort item for the first few days.
- Check in with staff to see how your child is adjusting.
- Pick up your child when you said you would.
- Don’t be surprised if your child is emotional or acting differently at pick-up. It may take them some time to get used to this big transition.
- Ask your child questions about their day so you can gauge how they’re adjusting.
- Keep your after-work schedule clear for the first few weeks so your child can decompress with free time at home and not feel so overwhelmed by this new change to their schedule.
Tricks to Help Parents Prepare for The First Daycare Drop-Off
- Be ready for the tears. Both you and your child may shed some tears on the first day. For your child’s sake, wait until you’re out of sight to cry. But don’t hold back. It’s okay to let it out. And if you wear makeup to work, consider packing some (along with plenty of tissues) in your purse so you can clean up after a good crying session.
- Don’t be afraid to confide in a trusted companion at work. This transition is hard on parents, so it’s nice to have someone to talk to and lift the weight off your chest.
- Be confident in your childcare provider. If you are happy with your childcare choice, you’ll feel less worried about your child, and the transition will be less difficult for you too.
To find a professional and reliable childcare provider that you are sure of, do your research and ask questions when looking for the best childcare setting for your child. It’s never easy making the transition to daycare or preschool, but these tips can help ease some of the stress and focus on the experience and memories your little one will enjoy. You can feel better about this big transition knowing your child is in good hands at a daycare or preschool that cares.