Choosing a Day Home for your child means asking a lot of questions and being observant. A caregiver with a safe, clean home who loves kids and interacts well with them and who offers a wide range of appropriate activities should be a good Educator. Some things you could watch for and/or ask about are:
A good Day Home should have a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and be well known for its nurturing environment. Your own first impressions definitely matter here. If it doesn’t feel right when you’re there, keep looking.
Policies and Procedures
A Day Home and its Agency should have clearly established policies and/or regulations for everything from operating hours to how to handle emergencies. That way you know the Educator and Agency take their responsibilities – your child – seriously.
Along the same lines, look for a Child Care Educator/Agency with a strict sick-child policy. Find out which illnesses mean your child has to stay home and for how long. A tough policy may inconvenience you if your child is ill, but keeping sick children (and adults, for that matter) away from each other makes sense. Apple Blossom tries to help cut down on illness by requesting verification of immunization documentation from all Educators, their family members and all registered children. We require that a copy of your child’s immunization record be supplied to the Agency during your initial enrollment.
Both the Agency and Educator have an open-door policy and we encourage parents to stop by unannounced.
If an Agency or Educator is poorly organized and has lax, or nonexistent, rules it’s not likely to be right for you.
Finally, a licensed agency will keep a record of the random inspections completed on each day home. When seriously considering a day home, parents are able to request a visit to the office to view the Educator Profile which lists complaints, incidents and non-compliance’s for the previous twelve months for that Educator. We believe in making sure the Educator and family are a good fit and this can help make that decision easier.
A Stimulating Environment
The best Day Homes have structured schedules that include plenty of time for physical activity, quiet time (including daily reading sessions for groups and individuals), group programs, individual activities, meals, snacks and free time. Television and videos should play little or no part in what your child does all day. A well-thought-out curriculum stimulates your child’s development and makes daily life more fun. Also, look for a Child Care Educator that offers regular outings such as trips to the park, field trips organized by the Agency, etc.
Children should also have the chance to play outside every day (weather-permitting, of course). Running, jumping and skipping are good for them physically, mentally, and socially.
Discuss menu plans with the Educator. Does she encourage healthy eating habits and cover all the food groups? If not, keep looking.
Ask the Educator what kind of training programs she has attended recently. Does she try to increase her knowledge of child care on an ongoing basis?
A Educator who makes caring for, and teaching, children her career should be educated and experienced. Child Care Educators tend to have more hands-on child care experience, as they are usually mothers themselves. Ask about a Educators training and experience when you interview her. Child Care Educators should genuinely enjoy being with children and helping them learn and explore. Discuss issues such as sleep, discipline and feeding with your Educator to see if you have similar parenting styles.
Ask your Day Home Educator how long she plans on providing child care. Is this a long-term plan, or is she planning on only doing it for a couple of months? If the Educator seems bored – keep looking.
For additional resources on choosing child care, please click here.