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6 Tips For Choosing Childcare
Deciding between in-home childcare and a daycare center for your kids can be a difficult decision for many parents. Knowing what to look for when finding the right care for your child can help you make the best decision for your family. Here are six tips to remember when choosing child care for your kids or grandkids.
- Discover the level of personal interaction. Choose a childcare provider that is willing to interact at all times with your child on their level. The caregiver should be willing to play on the floor and give one-on-one, close attention and affection if they’re caring for babies. Babies need warm, personal interaction in order to thrive. Older children need personal attention too to build feelings of security and comfort. Babysitters or daycare providers must be responsive to each child’s needs regardless of age. In fact, individual states set staffing ratios for the care of children so that each child gets the attention they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ratio of one adult for every three babies up to 24 months of age. That ratio goes up as children get older.
- Look for consistency. Providing good childcare includes being consistent and predictable. This will help your child feel more secure and develop a healthy attachment to childcare providers. If you are thinking of choosing an in-home caregiver, choose someone that is willing to make a commitment to provide care for at least a year. If you are seeking a daycare facility, ask how long the current caregiver has been working with the center and how often they have staff turnover.
- Find out the policies and procedures. Before you leave your kids in the care of someone else, you need to know their policies and procedures so you can stay informed. Ask what the policy is for discipline and make sure you agree with their philosophies. For example, do they discipline with a timeout or some other method? Ask if home daycares monitor TV time and TV content. You should find out about drinks, snacks and meals as well as naps or rest time. If you have older school children, find out if any homework help is provided. It’s important to know the procedures for sick children as well. Know what rules are in place when your child is running a fever, or what notifications are in place when another child has something contagious like head lice, for example. If you have an infant in childcare, ask if you’ll receive a daily rundown of their schedule including what they’ve eaten and how much they’ve slept.
- Make an unannounced visit. Although many parents and grandparents rely on referrals when choosing childcare, you should always visit the daycare or in-home center unexpectedly. You may even want to drop in at different times during the day. Make an assessment on how the staff interacts with the kids, how clean the facility is, and if it appears to be a safe environment on all levels for all ages. Make sure each age group has their own area. Toddlers and older children should not be placed in the same areas as babies. By dropping in unannounced, you should be able to get an idea of whether or not the childcare provider is right for your child.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure you continually communicate with your childcare provider every day. Stay informed on the sleeping and eating habits of infants and babies. Pay attention to older children and their feelings of their childcare and their interaction with other children. You should make the caregiver aware of any problems your child may be having when you drop them off. Always be willing to communicate about any issues that may arise and work to straighten them out. If you and the caregiver have a difference of opinion, strive to resolve it. Discussing the problem immediately with mutual respect, often ends in resolution.
- Trust your instincts. Even if a daycare facility or an in-home care provider comes highly recommended by someone else, it may not be right for you. If your child seems unhappy or something about the facility does not feel right, follow your intuition and trust your instincts. Sometimes finding the perfect fit for your child takes time, but it’s important your child is in the right environment while you can’t be there. A good childcare provider will be able to give your child the opportunity to grow and learn and feel loved. Don’t be afraid to change your mind and go somewhere else if you feel it’s what you should do. Making sure your kids and grandkids are happy, healthy and well cared for is the most important aspect of finding the right caregiver.
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