Childcare and Preschool: Decisions

Childcare or Preschool

Difficult Decisions

Deciding on childcare is an important decision.  There are a variety of daycares and preschools in East Cobb, in fact several come highly recommended by East Cobb moms.  

I know from personal experience how it feels to be looking for a daycare for your child unexpectedly.  About a year ago it became obvious that the school our son was attending was not the right fit for him. Consequently, we were searching for a new school in mid-October.  Fast forward about 13 months and he is a successful and thriving almost three-year-old. We moved him to a school with large classrooms and a strong foundation for child development needs.  I feel lucky to have found his current school, that I wasn’t even aware existed.

It got me thinking further about how many parents and families find themselves in the same situation as we were.  The average family is not attuned to the available daycares and preschools in the area. Sure, you may hear about the popular ones or some of the ones that are well known for safety. However, until you’re in the thick of it, searching high and low for options that are best for your child, you don’t really have a true understanding of what is offered.    

If you or a friend are looking for a new childcare center or preschool, check out our guide to selecting one for your child.                                       

What are key things to think about, look for, and ask about when choosing a childcare or preschool?

Distance

The distance of your childcare from home or work will matter to you.  Every family has preferences that work for them. Our first day care was close to my work, and now our day care is closer to our home.  We have support from grandparents, so this has certainly been the easier option for us. With traffic anywhere in East Cobb and the surrounding areas, be sure to check out your travel time to and from child care and to other regular destinations after pick up and drop off.

Interactions and Communication

Teachers- “look around and down”

Teachers should be interacting with children.  With little children, it’s important that they are on the floor, with children in their laps, or near the children.  Being face to face with a child is important for social-emotional development. The caregiver should be warm and respond quickly to the needs of babies and children.

 

Directors and Administrators

Good directors and administrators know the enrolled students and families.  They are active in the classrooms, frequently stepping in and out. Doing so provides consistent observations of teachers, students, curriculum, and classroom routines.  Observe how they interact with the students. Do children know them and feel comfortable approaching them? This gives you an indication of their level of involvement.

The interaction between teachers and directors is important.  Healthy relationships among colleagues indicates a happy work environment. Happy work environments have less stress and indicate strong leadership.  These factors directly affect the children in the classrooms. Low teacher turnover is a good sign of an enjoyable, relaxed, and fun environment.

Communication

Communicating with the teacher and director will occur often.  To fully trust a caregiver with your child, clear communication is a must.  

Predictable Care

Children thrive with predictable and consistent care from caregivers.  Dedicated teachers providing care each day build relationships and attachment with babies and children.  These relationships are the foundation for a successful education and learning environment for children. Babies and children simply cannot learn when their environment is stressful, inconsistent, and unexpected.

State Guidelines and Expectations

Each state has their own rules and regulations that are enforced through inspections.  Cleanliness, safety regulations, emergency procedures, and more are monitored by the state. Childcare centers often have a chance to improve their score, if the score reflects items that are easily fixed. Previous state inspections are available to view online.   Search for the desired childcare or program you would like information on.  When the school’s information page appears, scroll to the bottom to view previous inspection reports.

Policies and Procedures

Ask for a copy of policies and procedures.  If there is not a written copy, ask the director or administrator to give you further information on essential policies.  Ensure that the child care center philosophies are in line with your own family values.

 

Essential policies and procedures to understand:

Discipline

Feeding schedules

Sleeping/ nap time

Sick Policy (for children)

Plans for teacher absences (consistent substitute?)

Television and screen time policies

Outdoor Play and Exercise

Take a look at the playground and outdoor play areas. Teachers should observe students and engage with them as needed. Students should play and interact with friends. 

Observe

Centers with open door policies mean just that.  Many schools offer parents to drop by unannounced.  Mirrored observation windows make it easy to drop by and watch your child.

Dropping by unannounced helps you to understand daily routines and operations at the school, not just when you have a formal tour scheduled.

Trust your Gut

If things don’t sit right with you, check out other schools.  The school your best friend loves, may not be the best for your child.

Do you have school aged children at home?  Check out our post on homework help from a couple of months back.

**When choosing a school, we encourage you to be mindful of your needs as a family. Consult your pediatrician for guidance.

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