Choosing a day care centre for our kids requires self-testing. No doubt, the right choice can determine our kids’ happiness and can, in time, save us a great deal of energy and heartache when we shift them from one place to another.
When you choose any day care centre (I have to say I would not use the term "day care" because any place, which takes care of kids, needs to provide a lot more than just care. It needs to be a loving, nurturing, happy place), it is very important to make sure the centre’s philosophy matches the parents’ philosophy. A conflict between the two will always be reflected in the kids’ behaviour. Many behaviour problems of kids in the early years and even during school years are a reflection of the conflict between their parents and the system.
You can discover the centre’s philosophy by asking one simple question:
What is important for me to know before I put my child in your care?
This question is also very important for the system to ask so they can align the expectation with the parents.
I will give you an example. In one of my first programs, a mother came to visit our centre to check if it was suitable for her son. In our program, the sand pit was a very important part of the curriculum. We learned math, proportion and science, but we also did a lot to help kids play in the sand pit. The visiting mother came with us to the playground, watched the kids playing in the sand pit and said, "I hate it when my kids bring sand home". Not knowing if she said it as a joke (by the way, I hate it too when my kids bring sand home), I asked her to explain. She said she did not want her son to enter the sand pit at all. As much as I wanted more kids in my program, I knew that we would get into a conflict with this mother every day and that she would not be happy, so I suggested to her (nicely) that our program was not the right program for her.
Parents looking for a place for their kids to run around and release their energy will not be happy in a place where kids are told "no running".
A place where kids play as they like all day long is not good for parent looking for directed, structured learning, and as a centre finishing at 2:00 is not suitable for parents who work until 5:00.
Another thing that is important to remember when choosing a day care centre is kids’ social skills. Kids who spend time in day care centres are much more social than kids staying 5 years with mom and dad or grandparents. Any teacher at the first year of schooling can tell which of the kids was home and which of them spent time with other kids before school.
The social factor is important for kids at any age. It is important to find the balance between a small place offering special attention and a big place with more social interaction. Make sure there are enough kids from both genders to allow your child to choose their friends.
I guess the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a day care centre is that the years 0 to 5 are by far the most important years for any child and every second that your child is not experiencing new things, meeting new friends, doing fun things and learning (even from disappointments) is a waste of time.
In the early years, time is precious, so choose wisely.
I would love to read your stories about finding a place for your own child. Please share it in the comment box below.