In New York City you basically have to choose a daycare before you’re even pregnant… at least that’s what it feels like! It’s not only beyond stressful to leave your nugget, but the competition in many areas to get in to daycare is fierce. In fact, even if you anticipate it being very stressful, it will probably be even worse than you thing, which is why it’s so important to be comforted by confidence that you chose the right one.
And if the thought of leaving your baby with someone else all day makes you want to never leave your baby at all, you’re not alone. It’s a big decision, especially if this is your first baby.
I spoke with Kristen Denzer, founder of Tierra Encantada, a Spanish immersion daycare that combines bilingual immersion, organic meals and diversity education for children 6 and younger to discuss ways to size up daycare options.
Here are her tips for picking the best daycare.
Health & Safety Measures.
“Your child’s safety and wellness is of the utmost importance when considering daycares. To give you an idea of a center’s cleanliness and operation, be sure to schedule a tour as first impressions can be insightful. Consider the safety measures a center has in place, such as secure entry and parent identification procedures. Also take time to ask what procedures they have in place if a kid is sick, how they keep the center disinfected, crib safety measures they take and if all staff are fully trained in infant and child First Aid and CPR.”
“Daycares often have a philosophy or set of philosophies they stand by when it comes to disciplining, educating and caring for your child. This could include their position on providing quiet cool down spaces as opposed to enforcing time outs, offering cloth diapering, creating diversity positive environments and prioritizing environmental best practices. Ensure that the philosophy aligns with what you want and expect for your kids as well as the core values you hold.”
“Approaches to curriculum vary and it is important to identify the approach you feel is best suited to your child. A key consideration to take into account is how they utilize curriculum to engage with kids at different phases of development and growth. At any center it is important to see social and emotional, cognitive, motor skill and speech and language development a priority. Programs incorporating options such as language immersion can provide children an added benefit. Keep in mind curriculum is only as good as the teachers that teach it and therefore you should also look at staff qualifications and the experience caregivers have in teaching early childhood education.”
“Growing babies and young kids need sufficient nourishment to get through a day of learning, connecting and playing. If you have a baby that breastfeeds, drinks breast milk or uses formula, check to see what feeding frequency, flexibility and general considerations they can make based on your preference. As your baby develops and grows as a toddler and beyond, consider the nutrition, food quality, food preparation and variety provided throughout the day.”
“As a parent there is always comfort in knowing you can be involved in the day-to-day care of your child. Consider the accessibility and communication offered by a daycare. If you like to stop in and see your child in the middle of the day you may want to consider a daycare with an open door policy. If you like to have communication at the end of the day outlining all your child did that day and weekly updates from the center, ask about how you will receive that information in a timely manner. Select daycares also have parent boards and for you this might be the perfect way to feel like you can be involved, have a sense of community or simply feel heard.”