Choosing Childcare

Questions to Ask Providers When Choosing Childcare

Posted on November 5, 2021 : Posted in Early Child Care Education, Education and Development
Choosing Childcare

FAQ for Choosing Childcare

When finding a high-quality child care program for your child, keep in mind this is no small task. Not only are you entrusting your child’s life to people you don’t yet know, but you also must face the wide variety and number of childcare providers available. Just like any list of questions when choosing child care, this post is a guide to help you hit the highlights as you interview potential caregivers. Your child’s safety, happiness, and well-being are of the utmost importance. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to ask any question that is important to you when choosing a high-quality child care program, and remember to take notes as you speak with a caregiver. While interviewing child care centers you want to try and avoid distractions.

We will go into depth with some of the broader topics and provide resources to other blog articles that can answer any additional questions that may develop along the way. We have created a list of main topics most parents should ask a child care provider as well as some subtopics:

Early Education Learning Programs?

When finding child care, you should ask the child care provider about how their children learn while in their preschools. Pay attention to how their teaching style will encourage children to develop. We will group this by age as child development should happen in stages. Here is an example outline of an early education program management for a high-quality child care program, by age level and what they focus on:

1.) Infants: Age range of 6-week olds to walking and 12 to 18 months

Focus Areas

  • Active Exploration
  • Creative Expression
  • Early Number and Quantity
  • Music and Movement
  • Sense of Self
  • Social Relations
  • Vocabulary Development and Communication

2.) Toddlers: Age range of 18 to 24 months and 24 to 36 months

Focus Areas

  • Active Exploration
  • Creative Expression
  • Early Number and Quantity
  • Music and Movement
  • Sense of Self
  • Social Relations
  • Vocabulary Development and Communication

3.) Preschool: Ages 3 to 4 years old

Focus Areas

  • Classification
  • Communication Skills and Literacy
  • Counting
  • Creative Expression
  • Initiative and Social Interactions
  • Music and Movement
  • Patterning

4.) Kindergarten: Age 5

Focus Areas Include, but are not limited to: 

  • Reading
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Handwriting
  • Phonics
  • Mathematics
  • Music Appreciation
  • Spanish
  • Creative Expression
  • Health and Fitness
  • Character Building
  • Computer and Smart Board® Technology*

5.) School Age: Ages 6 to 12 years old

Before and After School Care Focus Areas

  • Homework help
  • Group and individual activities
  • Invigorating outdoor experiences
  • Creative and team-building opportunities
  • Healthy snacks

What other things are included in the learning curriculum?

When a holiday rolls around family members don’t want to come over and experience a child who doesn’t know how to laugh and play. It is important in the early years for a child to be learning as much as possible. With this in mind, it has been shown through studies that children learn when they play, this can work for adults as well. A private preschool may have a second language program or music class. While these are great things for your child to experience, ensure this is going to be a healthy experience for your child. Even when a preschool teaches math and reading to your child the method in which it is taught is vital.

Rainy days, what do they do? Read more about activities here. When raining, what is it they incorporate into the day if your child can’t get outside and play, how do they keep your child stimulated? Speaking of outside, do they offer field trips? Often a field trip is a way for children to get out of the classroom and immersed into a new learning environment, this is good for brain stimulation, learn more here.

What Are Your Facility’s and Staff’s Qualifications in Childcare?

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of a typical day in a facility, you want to know who you are dealing with. A question like this gives the person you are interviewing the opportunity to explain any licenses, accreditations, or references their facility has earned. At the same time, you learn more about the priorities of the school or center. Are they academically focused? Do they encourage their staff to pursue further early childhood education? Learning their emphasis is a great start in evaluating how they would fit with your family.

Can You Describe a Typical Day Under Your Care?

This is a great question to ask for several reasons. First, this question benefits you by running through many different portions of the daycare’s inner workings (such as mealtime, education, playtime, etc.). Secondly, this is another good way to explore the priorities of the caregivers. Do children create something each day? Is there open-ended time for play or is every moment structured? Are children exposed to art, music, or science demonstrations? What about outside time? All of these topics will be addressed or at least broached by asking for a daily routine. Finally, this question serves you well because it gives you a framework for further questions.

How Would You Describe Your Care Style?

Just as individuals have different approaches to childcare, childcare centers promote and train their staff members to interact with children within certain guidelines. Choosing childcare means finding caregivers who share your values and standards for interacting with children. Again, this question allows you to glimpse the general policies and procedures for childcare, as well as make space for follow-up questions. For more specifics, ask questions about discipline, screentime, learning goals, and toilet training, since all of these areas will require teamwork between the parents and childcare workers.

May I See Your Policies for Enrolled Families?

Most childcare centers have a handbook or list provided to families which include all of their important policies. This list should include information like a sick policy, payment expectations, transportation regulations, meal plans, and a visitation policy. If any of these policies are missing, ask for specifics. Choosing childcare is difficult enough without being blindsided by late payment charges or no childcare because of a runny nose. While facilities will have a variety of policies in these areas, your goal should be to find childcare that runs in a way that makes you most comfortable. Choose your priorities and don’t compromise. Your peace of mind and your baby’s happiness are the most important factors.

What Are Your Ratios of Space and Staff Per Child?

This is a question many parents forget, but it is an important one in evaluating the health of a high-quality child care program. Small children, such as infants and toddlers, often require one-on-one care, and too high of a child-to-caregiver ratio means that children’s needs are not met. Small groups of younger children should be a preference. Additionally, if children are too cramped they lose the opportunity to play creatively and well together. While there is no magic number for staff or space ratios, be sure to tour the space and experience it for yourself. If it feels small and overcrowded or unruly to you, your child will likely have the same experience.

What are the Teachers Doing as You Get a Tour of the Facility?

Take a look at how the employees interact with the children while considering a potential location. A caregiver should be on the floor playing with or holding one of the kids. It is important that newborns’ initial caregivers are warm and responsive, as well as that younger babies and older infants get enough one-on-one attention throughout group care.

Will You Have to Change Child Care Providers Often?

Babies require consistent, regular attention. It aids in the development of a secure bond with their caregivers. Request that the nanny you’re thinking about making a one-year commitment to the position if you’re looking for an in-home caregiver. If you’re looking for a center, find out how long previous caregivers have worked there and how the child care supports such retention rate, do the employees love their jobs? If so, this will make for a pleasant experience for your child while at the preschool or learning center you are considering.

Are You Able to Meet the Potential Teacher While Visiting the School?

You’ll be depending on what the caregiver informs you about your child’s day until your baby can speak. Make sure you and the caregiver are able to communicate effectively. In the morning at drop-off, you will have to relay pertinent information about how the night and morning went. The way you interact with the child care provider is extremely important. At the conclusion of the day, you’ll want to know similar information, such as how many diapers your child changed when he or she napped and whether he or she appeared satisfied overall. It’s almost always preferable to speak with the caregiver in person. If that isn’t an option, try setting up a time to do so.

Can You Change Your Child’s School if it Does Not Work?

You’re not married to a specific preschool, if things don’t pan out as you’d want, you always have the option of changing. Yes, you desire consistency for your child, but this does not mean that you must stick to the same routine. Find quality child care for your children. They deserve the best school you can provide them with. Maybe you came across this article due to being uneasy in your child’s current school, and the answer is yes, it is ok to change. Children are resilient; as long as they’re having a good time with their new teachers, they’ll be fine. This should not be done too often, however.

You are your child’s most constant source of love and support, whether you work a lot or little. Your baby will thrive and advance into a jovial, healthy youngster under your care and tuition, with the aid of qualified caregivers.

What’s your approach to meal and sleep schedules?

Do you feed your baby while he or she is being held? Perhaps you don’t want your little one bounced in a bouncy seat during mealtime. Find out more about nutrition here.

How do you deal with misbehaving children who refuse to calm down?

Patience is a virtue to be cultivated. It is important that your child’s caregiver has a wealth of patience and can both keep your child safe and calm. It is always best to ask about any previous experience potential caregivers may have had. If none, this should be a red flag. However, if your prospective caregiver has experience with both infants and toddlers, you’ve got a keeper! The type of child care you need will depend on the age and needs of your baby at the time. You can choose between centers (the most structured option and best option), family daycare (a sitter that regularly watches multiple kids in their home. Usually not trained as well, so the situation will depend on usage.), nanny care (one-on-one attention), and au pairs (college students who live with the family they’re taking care of).

In what ways do they discipline children?

Discipline starts with effective communication skills. These should be paired with appropriate strategies for each child’s specific age and temperament. An important trait of an excellent caregiver is their ability to speak effectively with children. Children thrive when they know exactly what to expect from their caregivers, such as if it will be okay for them to follow certain rules or not, whether there are consequences for misbehavior, etc. The best teachers communicate effectively with children so that expectations are clear and consequences are sure to follow every time a rule is broken. The extent of that matter though is what you should find out about. It is vital to find quality child care that has the ability to effectively manage your child in such instances appropriately.

In Conclusion, Trust Yourself to Make the Right Choice

Choosing childcare doesn’t have to be a stressful or overwhelming experience. Yes, there are many options and questions when choosing childcare to be asked. But there are also many wonderful, caring people who are well-qualified and enthusiastic to care for your child. With these simple and thorough questions, you will be well on your way to finding the ideal childcare situation for your family. If you are located in the southeast, consider finding a Legacy Academy center near you. With low teacher-to-student ratios, high academic standards, and beautiful, inviting spaces, your child will grow and thrive with us. Visit your local center for more information.