Sending a child to daycare for the first time can make any parent a little nervous. There are baby clothes, snacks and supplies to remember, but you must also spend time preparing yourself and your child for a schedule change. Since there is much on your to-do list, this guide will help to make the transition to daycare a bit simpler. Learn how to choose the best daycare provider, including what to look for in the center and its employees. With this information in mind, you and your little one will be ready to create a smoother transition and have a happy first day of school.
Ask Friends and Family
It is always an excellent idea to browse a facility’s website for more information. You can also search for online reviews. Real feedback from parents can help you to determine whether it is a professional, safe and licensed daycare facility. You can also review your state’s specific licensing regulations for daycares online.
Another reliable form of recommendation comes from friends or family. After all, your relatives or neighbors may have a positive experience to share with you. Talk to parents about their favorite daycares. In rare cases, they may also tell you which ones to avoid. When you hear enough good things about a certain daycare, it may give you the confidence to register.
Review Their Policies
While you are on the daycare’s website, check to see if they have a rules section or a policies page. You can also check out their “activities” section or their “about” section. As you review, make sure you are comfortable with expectations for parents and kids. For example, some daycare classes require children to be potty trained. Others expect parents to bring meals, wipes and baby boy or baby girl clothes to school.
Reputable facilities have a set schedule in which the kids complete developmental and educational activities. Staff employees should have education in childhood development and experience with small children. They should also provide an “open house” or another opportunity to meet your child’s teachers before the first day of school.
Finally, the school should have an appropriate student-to-teacher ratio for each class. Mandates are typically set by the state, so check with your local daycare or educator’s licensing board for more information. The ratio of kids to instructors should be as small as possible. An intimate class size will help to ensure that children are kept safe, get a quality daycare education and feel included in the group.
Tour the Daycare Facility
After you narrow down your choices, it is time to visit your preferred daycare sites. Call and ask the director for a good time to meet with them. Depending on the daycare, you may also be able to schedule a private visit or small group tour online. When you arrive, an experienced and reputable staff person should be happy to show you around the classrooms and play areas.
Parents should also check to see that each area looks cozy, comfortable or fun enough for your little one to spend the day. If you have questions about class sizes, activities or how teachers handle health and safety situations, now is the perfect time to ask. If you are interested in signing up, you can ask for registration forms at the front desk.
Trust Your Parental Instincts
Now that you have put the time into research and you have toured the daycares of your choice, it is time to reflect on what you have learned. Was there a place that seemed the friendliest or most beneficial to your child’s development? Perhaps there was a center that was highly recommended by other parents that also looked beautiful and inviting when you toured it. Whatever you use as the criteria to make your final choice, make sure you check it against your innate parental instinct.
You will know when a daycare feels appropriate for your family’s needs and your little one’s personality. When a facility does not seem like it is the right fit, feel free to check around for other options. After all, your baby will be spending most of their day there. The cost of daycare will also affect your family budget. An honest and educated approach to your decision will make everyone feel more comfortable.
Make the Transition to Daycare Easier
For many families, daycare is a necessary rite of passage. Whether your child is an infant or a toddler, there are things you can do to make the transition easier. Once you choose your provider, double-check your supply list against the items you have at home. If you need to pick up new diapers, clothing or toys, try to do it at least a couple of weeks before school starts. Garments like Onesies® Brand Bodysuits, stretchy pants and cute basics in solid colors can make it easier to dress your child in the early morning. These items also make it easier for teachers to change your little one if they need to.
Pack your baby’s favorite comfort items, hug them and let them know you will be back soon. As you go about your workday, remember that you are giving them the gift of stability and support. You will also have the peace of mind that you chose the right teachers and daycare. Every parent has to make important choices, but the first and most important factor is love. If you have your child’s best interests in mind, you are sure to find the daycare situation that is right for the entire family.