Working moms, career-oriented families, demanding work schedules and a child - things that would not fit well if it weren’t for day care facilities. Their increasing popularity can be attributed to the fact that they allow more than just time-off to the parents. With activities that keep children engaged for a long time, day care centres have an environment that promotes good learning and play. They also help them make friends with other children and caretakers. With all these benefits on offer, the possibilities to grow socially, physically and cognitively are immense for your child!
With all its dangling carrots, choosing a good day care centre for your child still remains a daunting task because, in the end, it all comes down to what gives you one hundred per cent satisfaction about your child’s well-being, other than keeping him with yourself, of course.
Here’s a check list of the things you must keep in mind when you consider a day care centre for your child:
Is your child safe?
Needless to say, safety takes the top position on the priority list. Frauds and crimes in the childcare business might result in parents having major trust issues and rightly so. If you’re leaving your child in the care of another person for a good number of hours during the day, assure yourself of the potential and implied sources of physical and mental danger.
• Does the centre have a valid license to operate?
The license is proof of having met the standards of operating a childcare programme, set by the state. It includes health, safety and training procedures and passes through several background checks.
• Are the care-takers trained to handle emergencies?
Health-related emergencies require a proper procedure in place with respect to an emergency contact person, ways to provide immediate relief and first-aid kits.
• How particular are they about cleanliness and hygiene?
With no knowledge of what children touch and play with and what they try to put in their mouths, it is best to disinfect just about every corner of the place, especially the playrooms, toys, washrooms, door handles, etc.
• Does the food have the required nutritional contents?
Children of different age groups require different combinations of nutrients. The quality and exact nature of food offered cannot be simply assumed. The level of hygiene in the kitchen should, in fact, make-or-break the deal.
• Is the centre physically safe?
What determines whether a centre is in a safe location is the nature of surrounding facilities and organisations and the kind of communities that live around it. Also, within the centre, check for the window guards, any sharp edges or toxic materials.
Is your child happy?
Every child is likely to dislike the new environment with unfamiliar faces. But despite the initial, almost-distressing separation, children have wonderful ways of adapting to their surroundings if provided with the right care and affection. This is the hallmark of a good day care centre. After safety, focus on the facilities and trained staff that can keep your child happy and engrossed.
Does the day care centre complement your parenting style?
When you’re not around, your basic principles and rules for your child’s development should be. Little things such as meal and sleep schedules, play time, exposure to TV and other gadgets must be well regulated. If not, the child can have problems adjusting with the everyday routine.
Visit the day care centre
This is a crucial part of the process since most information available online can be sugar-coated.
• Check for safety issues
• Observe other children and how they are dealt with
• Interact with the parents of other children to know how well the staff does its job
This is essential also because you get the chance to ask your questions, as many as it will take you to assure yourself.
• What is the staff to children ratio?
The smaller the group, the better will be the care and attention given to your child. It’s for you to decide which size is appropriate for your child to feel at home.
• What is the transportation policy?
If the centre provides pick up and drop facility, make sure you check the license of the person in charge. Take feedback from someone who avails this facility to analyse your options.
• What is the sick child policy?
This must make clear whether a sick child will be asked to stay home, or when a child falls sick in the day care centre, how the staff will handle the situation.
• What are the qualifications of the staff?
• What happens when you are unable to pick up your child on time?
• What are the daily activities planned?
Choosing a day care centre may not be rocket science but the constant worry of, “Am I providing the best for my child?” comes with the package. Have your basic research about the different day care centres in place. A day care centre referred by someone known is a good option to consider as opposed to a Google search suggestion.
Your child needs to be prepared and be okay with the new faces around. Follow a similar schedule at home for a few days prior to leaving your child there. Also, watch him interact in the day care for the first few weeks. And, most importantly, communicate with your child. Let this not be just a regular, “How was your day?” but trying to understand the fears, anxieties or excitement that fills your child’s voice. And, even though continuing with the same centre is a good thing, look out for any errors in your judgement about it that tell you it’s time you change it. Ultimately, it is your gut feeling and the amount of confidence you can muster while you are away from your child that will influence your choice. If things don’t click, don’t stick around. After all, if the facility cannot guarantee you your peace of mind, what’s the point?
Mudita Gupta, who is a part of Safecity’s Writer’s Movement, strongly believes in the idea of spiritual happiness. She heads a college based live project on rural women entrepreneurship.
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