Choosing the perfect child care center can be stressful. You want to pick a place where your child will be happy, loved, nurtured and safe. To help you figure out the best fit for your family, don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions. Here are nine that are key to ask at every center you visit.
1 Do the teachers love working with children?
During the first few years of life, caring interactions with adults are essential to building a child’s brain. When you visit a center, take note of how the teachers interact with children: Are they kind and responsive? Do they ask big questions and encourage learning? Look for teachers who smile and babble with babies, share laughs with kids, and physically get down to kid level when speaking with children (this shows kids that their point of view matters).
2 What will my child’s learning look like—at every stage and age?
More than 70 percent of brain development happens by the age 3, so an educational approach in these early years is a must. Great learning centers offer activities tailored to the learning goals of each age group and have a staff that understands your child’s learning goals and how to reach them. Ask for concrete examples of activities and how they help your child learn and grow.
3 Will my baby be safe—even when she sleeps?
Any child care center you visit should be very knowledgeable about safe sleep and rigorous about practicing them, especially in the infant room. When you’re on a tour, ask teachers and center directors about their safe sleep practices: Are babies always put to sleep on their backs? Are cribs free of stuffed animals and other hazards? And most importantly, is a teacher keeping watch over the children as they sleep?
4 Will my baby feel happy here?
When kids are in a warm and inviting atmosphere, they feel happy and eager to learn. When you visit a center, you should feel it, too. Ask yourself: Does this center feel welcoming? Are the children happy and thriving? Are the rooms clean, organized and well-maintained? Is there a fun, safe place to play outside?
5 Are there lots of great books within easy reach of little hands?
It seems like a small question, but when you’re only 2 feet tall, it’s a big one—and the answer can give you important info about the center. Why? When children are given the freedom to choose their own books (or toys or activities), they develop curiosity, independence and confidence all on their own.
6 Is my child’s teacher terrific?
When you visit a classroom, ask the teacher how she makes reading and math fun. From silly alphabet sing-alongs to counting ladybug spots, a trained teacher will have a million great ideas. Notice if she asks kids open-ended questions such as “How did that happen?” or “What do you see?” These kinds of questions foster critical and creative thinking. You might even ask how she fosters social and emotional development—these crucial skills make it easier for children to succeed in school and are best taught during early years.
7 If there’s an emergency, how are children kept safe?
Emergencies—such as floods, fires or tornadoes—can happen at any time and your child care center should always be ready to keep children safe during a crisis. When you visit, talk to the center director about emergency preparedness.
8 Will my child be celebrated for who she is?
On a tour, watch to see if the teachers and center director make a genuine effort to connect with your child. Did they ask her name? Did they include her in classroom activities and ask about her interests? When teachers celebrate the budding individuals in their classrooms, they help children uncover new passions and interests, encourage independence, and teach the whole class to respect and care for others.
9 Did I feel listened to?
Did the center staff ask you questions about your family? Good teachers and center directors will actively try to learn about your family’s needs and will understand and respect them. Good communication between families and center staff can help solve all sorts of daily child care challenges (from potty-training hurdles to a misplaced beloved Teddy bear), so make sure that open dialogue starts with your first visit.
Join KinderCare Learning Centers at a participating center in the Chicago area for an Open House on April 28. Take a tour, meet their team, explore classroom activities and find out what makes KinderCare the leader in early childhood education. KinderCare is offering free registration when you attend an open house and begin the enrollment process Click here to RSVP to an Open House in your area.
About KinderCare Learning Centers
For nearly 50 years, KinderCare Learning Centers have been a place where every child can learn, explore and discover in a safe and nurturing environment in more than 1,350 community-based centers. It leads the nation in accredited centers. To learn more, visit KinderCare.com, on Facebook or on Instagram.
For resources, information and activity ideas for parents and teachers of young children visit KinderCare.com/content-hub.