Daycare shopping can be stressful, especially when there are so many things to look at and know before going on a tour. Daycares often put their best foot forward when giving a tour and it can be difficult to know what is a good daycare vs. a bad one. Below are 10 things I encourage all parents to ask when touring a daycare.
What is a typical day like?
What does a morning look like vs. an afternoon? Do they have structured activities or is it free play? Do they follow any sort of curriculum? What does a day look like for an infant vs. a toddler (Note: You may not be thinking this now, but if you plan to stay at this daycare long term, this is good info to have!) What does nap time look like? Is there artwork on the walls? What type of toys are in the room – are they age appropriate?
How often do teachers take the kids outside?
Check to see what play areas they have available – are there any inside options? If they have outdoor play areas, are they age appropriate? Do they separate age groups when outside?
What are their hours?
Do the hours work with your schedule? When do they open? When do they close? What is the policy if you are late for pick up?
Are there vacation or holiday closings?
Think about your work schedule – are you able to provide coverage on days when they are closed?
What is provided and included in the cost?
Things to ask about in particular are: meals (breakfast, lunch), snacks (1-2x), diapers, wipes, sunscreen – Take all of this into consideration when comparing costs between daycares.
How do they communicate with parents about their kid’s daily activities?
Do they use paper charts or do they have an app? How are parents notified of changes? Are you able to meet with the teacher as needed?
What is the staff turnover rate?
This is better answered by parents in your area, but I always encourage people to ask this of whomever is giving them a tour. Also don’t be afraid to ask why staff leave. Some turnover is normal, but if they can’t keep teachers more than a few months or even directors, you should look elsewhere.
When do kids move up to the next room and how is this handled?
Ask this to get an idea of how they handle transitions and how often your child might be moving classrooms. Also look to see if they move kids based on age vs. development.
How do they handle discipline or behavioral problems?
So important, and especially good to know since your kids will be spending a large chunk of the day with their teacher.
What is their sick child policy?
Most daycares have a policy, but it’s important to know what their specific guidelines are, what to expect when you get a call (e.g. do they require you to pick up your kid in an hour? 30 min? 2 hours?), and how long they have to be excused from daycare before they can return (most centers have a 24 hour symptom free policy).
Readers, what other questions would you suggest asking?