Authored by Jyoti Shah in Parenting
Published on 05-17-2009
Initiate your selection of a day care center by first surveying a few. Opt for those close to your residence or place of work. Once you have decided on a few, prepare a list of questions to ask. The task is sure to overwhelm you, but remember that this is imperative. Your child will be spending considerable time at the day care center so it is essential that you zero in on one that inspires your confidence leaving you with no doubt that your child will be happy and safe during the time spent there. Here is a list of general questions to make your task simpler:
- What are the hours of the center?
- What are the fees? Are discounts offered for siblings?
- Is there a written contract about care? If there is one, take time to read it before you decide.
- Are charges levied when the child is on vacation or is sick?
- Does the center have specific rules for picking up late or dropping the child early?
- Are health care facilities available? What are they?
- What happens in the event of the provider suddenly falling ill? Is there a reliable substitute, till a parent can take charge?
- Are there days or special holidays when the center is closed? Are alternative options available on such days?
- What is the daily routine like?
- In case you wish to leave, how much prior notice would you be required to give?
- What is the daily routine?
- Are meals provided? Is there a fixed menu? If meals are provided, is food from home occasionally permitted? Is there a policy for this?
- How are food allergies in children handled?
- Are field trips to parks, etc., organized? What are the arrangements on such days?
- In case on a day you are late to pick up the child, is a charge levied for this?
- Be observant about the security and safety arrangements in the place, asking questions where necessary.
Apart from the questions listed above, here are a few specific questions about parental involvement, group settings and discipline to guide you.
About Discipline and Education
It is not unusual for parents to be a bit sensitive on matters related to discipline and it is wise to know in advance the kind of approach the center has toward disciplining a child. Most of them have guidelines. Be sure to ask for a copy and convince yourself that it is in consonance with your own.
- In case your child has a rough day, would you be informed?
- If there is a behavioral problem with the child, does the center work with parents to solve it?
- What are the learning opportunities offered?
- Is there ample opportunity for free-play?
It is natural for a parent to be allowed some involvement. This reassures the parent and makes the child feel comfortable and cared for. Here are some questions to help you in this direction.
- Is a parent allowed to come and observe the child occasionally or join during lunch?
- Will the parent be made aware of any problem a child is facing?
- What support is provided for a mother who may need to breastfeed?
- Are parents allowed to visit on special days like birthdays or at story time?
- How are parents informed about the child’s progress in learning, etc?
- Can a parent expect to receive any feedback at pick up time?
- What are the age groups that the center caters to?
- What is the number of children entrusted to each caretaker?
- Is there a likelihood of the numbers in the center changing?
- How are any disputes between children taken care of?
Once you have decided on a day care center, shortlist questions that seem appropriate in light of your specific needs, if any. Making inquiries with friends or colleagues will also help the final choice.
Last but not least, also take pains to build a good rapport as a parent with the provider, as this will go a long way in ensuring that your child is happy and well cared for in your absence. The task of a day care provider is just as tough as that of a parent, even more so because of the number of children entrusted. Being too demanding as a parent will be of little value. Cooperation is a better alternative.