Hunting for the best place for your kids to spend their time away isn’t easy and not all daycare is the same (or right for your child).
This month in my family matters column I wrote about how parents could go about getting the best day care. Now I want to highlight one I find to be a perfect example of a stellar environment for children (no matter what parenting style you have). Whether you’re particular about the way you are raising your children, or if you're more of a relaxed parent with no specific routines or systems in place, this is still one to (really) consider.
I have to preface that in my column I began by saying that I was a particular mom. I wanted certain things (to be home with my kids-which did not happen until later on) and I wanted someone who was experienced. I had already worked in the child education field and also knew what worked and what didn't. I was a daycare snob (and proud of it).
THESE ARE SOME THINGS TO LOOK FOR (but not exactly in this order):
1. Balance between structure & free play because too much of either is not the best.
2. Little or no technology or media. I have a strict NO TV rule during the day, with tight technology time rules, and out of my 3 babes (ten, thirteen and seventeen years old) only one has a phone and it’s not a smart one.
3. Kind speaking, respectful adults. Yes, it is possible, and imperative, to show children respect (if they don't, they're not getting' my kids). Impatient adults teach children intolerance and guilt.
4. A calm environment as possible. Kids will play, laugh, scream and bicker (it's natural) BUT if the person running the program is raising their voice more than the kids and/or the children are all over the place and don’t seem to have any idea of what to do with themselves, I'm gone.
5. Educational (ANYTHING) Toys, books and/or activities!!! (OK-Even videos) My goal in life is to educate my kids. They are sponges, so why not fill them with knowledge… put it out there and they will learn it. Don't waste the time you have now to teach them great stuff!
6. Clean & Safe. No brainer, yes, but how can you tell? Does it feel and smell clean? Are door knobs, tables and chairs free of crud and residue? Are the floors clear of debris and toys if someone is not using them? (Does it smell too clean? Beware the overuse of chemicals.) Look for outlet covers, gates securely blocking stairways, kitchens out of the way and inaccessible to children, fans and heaters should not be within reach. Outdoor area should be free from vehicles and road access. Pets? They should be kind or securely penned away from kids. Safety measures like auto locking gates or buzz in entry only is also a must.
7. Licensed and educated centers should be your top thoughts, but there are plenty of them that offer love, communication and safety, but are not. (Sadly not every licensed daycare has the right motives, enough staff or the proper management- that's why visits are so important.)
Latchkey is a popular choice because it's usually cheap and convenient. But, did you know that you can often get your child bussed to their after-school care? Did you also know in most cases there is more supervision and less chaos at a home or smaller daycare? Now that local Latchkey has gone up in price, it's very close to other daycare costs…so the other options ought to be looked at.
Childcare isn’t a small decision. And it’s not one you should rush. Take your time, find the right one, and if you can enlist the help of your friends and family in the search, do it! It’s time consuming- but oh-so-worth-it in the long run.
If you have questions, email me anytime.
If you live in the NE Ohio area, check this out:
Willowick Day Care
216-314-6177 or 216-408-4797
Ask for Linda or Beverly
Ask for Linda or Beverly