When it comes to selecting the best possible child care (What is child care) or preschool program (What are preschool programs) for your child, then there are several key areas that you need to look into before you go ahead and allow your child to go there.
Clearly this is something that requires you to take your time over, but hopefully the advice that follows will prove to be quite useful to you when it comes to trying to decide which preschool program is best for your child.
Arrange a visit
One of the first things that you need to do is to find out the names of several places and then arrange an appointment to go and check them out in person and at this point you do not have to take your child with you as this is merely to see how the place works in general and to see how you would feel about them going there. Do not just walk in, take a look around, and leave again, but instead stay for an hour or so and watch the various activities that take place and how the staff interact with the children to see if you like the way that they do things.
Check if they’re licensed and qualified
Clearly you will want to know that they hold the proper licenses and that they can give adequate medical care should something happen. These licenses will depend upon where you live, but any good child care company will be more than willing to show you their license in order to quell any fears that you may have about your child going there. You should also find out if the owners, or those in charge on a day to day basis, do have the correct qualifications within a child related field as this will give you confidence in that they know what they are doing no matter what may happen during the day. Ideally you will want the lead person to have been working with children for a minimum of one year, and it is better if they have two years experience, as you will then feel safer in leaving your child there for any period of time.
Supervision and discipline
When your child is there you will want to be absolutely sure that they are being supervised at all times as children do have a tendency to try various things that could lead to them being hurt or hurting others. You will want to get assurances that they are supervised even if they are sleeping as they need to look after your child and not just leave them alone if they are resting.
With regard to discipline, then it is advisable to find out how they do actually do this because any child can act up and it is important for their development that they are disciplined in some way if this is indeed the case. You will want to find out if they are fair with what they do and how they react in different situations so you know that your child will actually learn their lesson should they do something that is wrong.
Yet another area that you need to ask them about are the rules related to hygiene and they need to include things such as hand washing and even what happens when it comes to changing any diapers. You will want to be sure that they get your child to wash their hands before eating, that the staff wash their hands, is the area where diapers are changed nice and clean, and just generally is the entire building as spotless as you hoped it would be.
Staff to child ratio
It can also be a very good idea to find out more about the staff to child ratio because clearly your child is going to get more attention if there are less children around. The last thing you want is for your child to feel left out because if there are too many children compared to the number of caregivers, then problems can arise so do compare these ratios between places before you make your decision.
When you put them into child care you will want to be sure that they do have the correct emergency plans in place either for injuries or in the event of something happening such as a fire. Make sure that somebody there is qualified to give treatment and also make sure that they know who to contact should there be some kind of an emergency. Finally, do check that they carry out emergency drills at least once a month and even find out for yourself what happens and how they explain it all to the children so you know that your own child will understand what is going on.
Outside of the building.
The final thing to look at is the outside of the building and this involves not only the playground, but also access to things such as main roads so you know that your child cannot just stray at any point. Make sure that things such as the sandbox is nice and clean, that their playground has been passed as being safe by the correct authorities, and do also check that the toys and equipment that they have will be suitable for a child of your age. You may also want to use this time to find out about how secure the outside of the building is so you know that nobody can just walk in from the street and gain access as clearly the safety and security of your child is the most important part of all of this.
Those are some of the key things that you need to take into consideration when trying to select the best child care or preschool program for your child and you can see that they do cover every aspect of not only their care, but also their safety. As was stated at the outset you need to take your time when checking out the different options and do not allow yourself to be swayed by the potential costs because it will often give you greater peace of mind if you just spend that bit extra and know that your child is in a safe place.
If you want to search for accredited preschool programs for your child, then do consider going to websites such as http://www.naeyc.org/academy/accreditation/search if you are in the US or http://www.daycaretrust.org.uk for the UK.