When it comes to putting a child into daycare, it can be a stressful experience for parents because they already don’t like having to leave their children with strangers. There are a lot of good daycare options out there, and it’s always best to do adequate research. According to Marsha Weinraub, PhD, professor of psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia, "Only about 9 percent of daycares make the cut." That can be intimidating for parents, so they'll just want to make sure that they do lots of research and interview the people who will be caring for their child.
There is an old saying that says, “It takes a village to raise a child” and that’s so very true. There is a lot of help that daycare teachers can offer parents, and it can ease the worries that the parents have as well.
There are some basic things that parents can expect from a childcare provider, and these are things that moms and dads might not even think about. Make sure that these things are on that checklist so that they can be discussed during an interview. It’s more than just feeling comfortable with the person caring for a child. Check out these 20 things moms want daycare teachers to be doing.
20 An Organized, Well-Thought-Out Day
There are a lot of disorganized daycares out there that really don’t have a plan for your child and you want to avoid those at all costs. Your child needs a safe environment, and part of that is to have things feel predictable and structured. A good daycare should have clear programs and plans for the day. Look for a place that has a well-thought-out and organized day. "When a school follows a specific, research-informed curriculum, children will engage in more meaningful classroom experiences that foster their intellectual, creative, physical and social-emotional development,” says Dr. Gloria Julius, vice president of early childhood education for Atlanta-based Primrose Schools, a premier early education and care provider with nearly 400 schools across 29 states.
19 More Than Just The Basic Credentials
Sure, a daycare that has formal credentials is cool because you know they are official at least but you need to go way beyond the certificate they have on their wall. Don’t get snowed by fancy credentials, anyone can hide behind them. The teachers need to be able to answer questions without hiding behind a smoke screen. "At one daycare, when I asked the teacher what a typical day would be like, she gave me a song and dance about structure and toddlers not mixing and how the word 'curriculum' should never be used when talking about early-childhood education," says Dorre Kleinman. "She obviously didn't know what she was going to do with the kids all day and thought she could dazzle me with jargon."
18 Teachers Who Are Attuned To Child Development
The teachers in the daycare need to be attuned to child development and that means they need to know the difference between development between a 2-year-old and 3-year-old. Because they are worlds apart. You can see that just in the toys that they play with. "For example, there should be a progression of books — from board books in the infant room to more sophisticated literature in the older children's rooms," says Scott. Find out what is provided for the different age groups in the room so that you know that your child is playing with age-appropriate toys.
17 Teachers Who Are Not Imparting Their Personal Values On Your Child
Not everyone parents the same way, and the daycare teachers need to respect the way you have chosen to parent your child. You are the one that makes decisions that you feel are best for your child, and the teacher should not be going against that. There should not be unsolicited advice from them nor should they be giving you critiques on being a parent. They should not be imparting their personal or religious values on your child either. If you are disagreeing on parenting practices, then it’s time to find a new daycare provider.
16 An Open-Door Policy
All daycares should have an open door policy, if they don’t you might want to ask yourself why that is. An open door policy means that you can drop into the daycare at any time during the daycare hours. Some places will lock their door during the day for safety reasons. The doors are open when it’s time to drop off or pick up children. You shouldn’t have to call first before you can drop by and you should never have to knock and wait for someone to open the door. If you are picking up your child early, they may ask you to call ahead so that they can have the child ready but aside from that, you should just be able to walk in anytime that you want to.
15 Open And Honest Communication
You want your daycare worker to be open and honest about what is going on with your child. You should also feel comfortable with talking to your provider about anything. Also, if there are any issues with your child in regards to their development or behavior, you want your daycare teacher to come to you with these things. There should be open and honest communication between the both of you because that’s in the best interest of your child. If you meet the teachers and you don’t feel like you can have open communication with them, then that would be a good indicator that they aren’t a good fit.
14 Teachers Who Are Empowered To Ask For What They Need
You might be asking yourself, what does that mean? Many times, caregivers have great ideas and the director should be able to allow them to do it if it’s reasonable. You don’t want someone who is afraid to ask their boss for something. If they are that might be a telling sign about the director. "Once, the caregivers at my daughter's center told me, sort of on the side, that they wished they had a microwave so they could heat up the kids' food," says Kleinman. "I later found out that they were scared they would lose their jobs if they asked the director for anything."
13 Teachers Who Engage With The Kids
There should be plenty of engagement between caregivers and children in a daycare. "For example, in a 3-year-old classroom, the teacher may be working with a small group on a particular lesson, while the assistant teacher is playing a game with the rest of the children," she says. "Maybe a few children are finishing up an art project. When one of them finishes the art project, the assistant might say, 'Sam, why don't you come over here and join us now?' No child should ever just wander, not knowing what to do next."
12 A Calm Approach To An Upset Child
One question that you want to ask the daycare teachers is how they handle a child that is upset. Tantrums are going to happen, especially when dealing with young children. So, you want to know how the teachers handle the situation. You want teachers who can deal calmly with the child and won’t get frustrated or angry with him. You want to know exactly what the teacher will do to calm your child so that you can be assured that you are on the same page. You don’t want to find out later that they behaved inappropriately when your child had a tantrum.
11 The Environment Should Reflect The Parents' Particular Child-Rearing Style
You want to be able to trust the people that are watching your child during the day. It’s very important to always trust your gut feeling in these situations. If something doesn’t feel right, then pull your child. Not every daycare is going to be the right fit for you and that’s okay. You have to find the one that’s right for you. "Each family has its own culture and wants to find the match that meets its particular child-rearing style," Scott says. If you have multiple places that you are interested in, go with the one that just feels right. As Atlanta mom Sharyn Mulqueen puts it, "I saw other places I knew would be fine, but the place my daughter's at now — when I visited, I knew she'd just love it."
10 An Age-Appropriate Environment
You want the best environment for your child, and that includes making sure that it’s age appropriate. There are many types of daycares and that includes, play-based, traditional preschool and ones that have a structured schedule. Regardless of which kind you choose, there should be different age-appropriate learning tools and toys for each age group. If the daycare has infants and preschoolers, then there should be a space for both of them and toys for each age group. The toys should be in good condition and be appropriate for the age of your child.
9 Policies And Procedures In Writing
When you are investing in a daycare provider you should be getting a list of procedures and policies from the daycare teacher. This way you know exactly how they run the daycare and there shouldn’t be any surprises. You will know what is expected from you in regards to being the parent of the child. You will also know what to expect from your provider and you can refer to it if there are any discrepancies. You want to know how they run their business just in case there is anything that you disagree with.
8 Keeping The Location Clean
This should be an obvious one, but you would be surprised to know how many daycares don’t follow these basic rules. It’s very important that the daycare is both clean and safe for your child. The daycare should be organized and have a play space for your child both indoors and outdoors. It should be a place to learn and to play. There should be no broken furniture or toys in the room. If the daycare is run out of a home, it should be a smoke-free environment. Anyone that goes in and out of that home should also have passed a background check.
7 Updates On How Your Child Is Doing
When you start your child in a new daycare, you want to make sure that they are adjusting well to the environment. Your own child is the best indicator as to whether the environment is good for him. You can start by asking the teachers how your child is adjusting to the daycare. You can simply ask if your child is happy during the day. Find out if your teacher is a good fit as well as the daycare center. Find out right away how your child is adjusting to the environment. It’s the best thing that you can do for them.
6 Addressing Any Behavioral Issues
One way to tell whether your child is adjusting well to daycare is how he behaves when you are gone. Is he having a meltdown? Is he hitting other children? One question to ask the daycare teachers is whether or not there are behavioral issues with your child. That could mean how he’s adjusting on his own and how he treats the other kids that are at the daycare. If he is acting out, you need to find out whether it’s the environment that is causing it. Your child may just need time to adjust or maybe you need to look at a different daycare.
5 Daycare Workers That Are Reliable
You are expecting that your daycare provider is going to be there when you need to drop off your child. If you are a working mom, you can’t worry about an unreliable daycare. If there are going to be scheduling changes, you should be notified in advance of them. There will be times when a provider can get sick and has to close early but that should be few and far between. Usually, daycares have a backup plan for this or have multiple people working for them. Make sure that there is a child care agreement that you sign so you can hold them accountable for what’s in it.
4 Teachers Who Are Knowledgeable
It’s super important that the daycare teachers know what they are talking about. It’s common sense. So, what should they know? You want daycare teachers who know what they are talking about when it comes to developmental stages and milestones, especially when it comes to your own child. The teacher should know what children are capable of and are able to provide an environment that will help them grow. A daycare shouldn’t be a place to just waste time for eight hours a day. You want your child to be growing and learning when they aren’t with you.
3 Supervising The Children At All Times
Whether your daycare provider works alone or with multiple people, all children should be supervised at all time. She should know what is going on in her home at all times. She should know if a child is not feeling well or behaving properly. If she is properly supervising your child, then she would know which toys are your child’s favorite. If she has no idea what your child likes, that could be a sign that she’s not paying attention. Ouchies are bound to happen, but it shouldn’t be happening on a frequent basis if there are teachers paying attention.
2 Showing Compassion For Your Child
One priority that you should have is to find a daycare provider who is going to treat your child with compassion. Your child should be happy and safe in that environment and if your child is having a stressed-out day, you want to know that they won’t be treated with impatience or frustration. They need to accept your child for who they are and not to do anything that would upset them unnecessarily. They should help your child and encourage him to explore interests and make his personality really shine while he is there.
1 Updates On Socialization Skills
One thing that you want is for your child to develop appropriate social skill,s as that will help him when he starts school. You want to know if your child is making friends and how that process is going. Does your child get along with others? If not, explore why that is. Is there anything that can be done to help that process along? Find out who are the kids that your child gravitates towards. Is he more comfortable one on one or in a group of kids? You want to be able to foster your child’s friendship outside of daycare and knowing how they interact at daycare will help.