Anyway, this post is about how to find a good daycare, therefore I am switching to positive thoughts. For over a year Allie's been going to a GREAT daycare, so MJ and I had a chance to compare, understand and come to our conclusions what is important for us in a daycare. This is my personal outlook on the topic and what I am sharing is what I’ve learned over the last 2 years and what I wish that I’d known when we were initially choosing a childcare provider. If anyone from our neck of the woods is looking for a daycare, ours (that we love so much) is Children's Time.
Things to consider while looking for a daycare
- Cost. Most people care about the cost, so it’s helpful to determine what your search range is depending on the budget and then go from here. When evaluating the cost of the daycare, it is important to take into an account:
- Teacher-children ratio. The legal ratio in Maine is about 4:1 (four kids to one teacher), which seems fair. This is for the youngest kids. As kids grow older, the ratio changes a bit. Make sure the daycare you are considering is following the regulations or uses the ratio that you are comfortable with.
- Walks/The outside area/playground. It’s great to ask during your daycare tour what the policy on outings is. Our old daycare, that luckily didn’t last very long, seemed to think of walks as a very special treat. Babies were only taken outside a couple days a week. Our current daycare takes kids outside twice a day, every day (given the temperature is not too hot or too cold). You also want to look at the playground. MJ calls ours “Baby Sandals”, because it’s so big, fun and clean.
- The teachers, of course. Most (if not all) daycares will let you bring your child in for a little playtime before you commit to anything. You can hang out in the room where your child will spend most of the day in and see the environment, child-teacher interactions, behaviors, treatments, etc… Of course it’s hard to get to know a teacher in such a short time, but usually people get a good vibe or a bad vibe right away.
- The space. Is it warm enough in winter/cool enough during the summer? Does it feel cozy? Does it look clean? We loved ours right away. It’s not large, but it’s so nice and cozy. They rotate books and toys every week or so, so the kids get to play with different toys every week. No matter what time I show up at the daycare it’s always clean there and so are all the kids. They sanitize all the toys every evening. They always have a nice pleasant music on. They have cool bean bags for the kids to sit on while they read.
- Activities. What are every day activities for kids of different age? Do they seem developmentally good? Challenging? Fun? Almost every day Allie brings home something she's made, so we knows she stays busy there. She also talks about all these book characters that we don't necessarily read about at home, so we know that teachers do lots of reading with kids.
- The ages in a group. It seems to differ from place to place. Our current daycare's youngest group includes babies from just a few weeks old to 2,5 years old kids. I wasn't completely comfortable wit that at first. I was worried that Allie, being the youngest, is going to get "run over" by older kids. But that, of course, didn't happen, as the kids are always being watched, and moreover, I love that fact now. Older kids get to learn how to be gentle and caring with babies and babies have "role models" to follow.
- There are a few more important factors to consider that our daycare mentions on their website, which I am going to direct you too rather than repeating the informant I hope you'll find it helpful. I certainly did.