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Danielle Corbin: Here are tips for how to choose the best child care center for your child and your family

Choosing the right child care center is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Research shows that just choosing a “high-quality” preschool for your child will help them get kindergarten-ready—and put them on the path to a fantastic future.

But what is “high-quality” and how do you know which “high-quality” center is right for your family?

Below are six easy things to do when looking:

Step #1 Make a Short List of What Matters Most to Your Family

Making a list before you tour a program can help you focus. Make a list about what you  need from a center, what you want for your child, and any concerns you may have. Do you need commuting convenience? Is kindergarten preparedness at the top of your list or are you more concerned with socialization? Are you interested in special programs for your art-loving child? Use your answers as a conversation guide on your tours—and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.

Step #2 When You Tour, Make Sure the Center Has the Basics Down

The tour is when you get to check out the space, meet the preschool director, and imagine how adorable your child will look covered in finger paint. But if the center can’t get the basics right, move on.

The top things you should look for include:

1. Cleanliness:  The center should obviously be clean and tidy.
2. Safety:  Your center should have a strong emergency plan and be able to explain it to you.
3. Nutrition:  Healthy body, healthy mind! Meals and snacks should be made up of whole-grain foods and plenty of fruits and veggies.

Step #3 Look for Kid-Friendly Classrooms

A great preschool classroom should feel warm, welcoming and get your child excited about coming to school. Do the classrooms you’re visiting do the following?

1. Encourage exploration  by providing children easy access to many learning possibilities—science stations, art supplies, dress-up clothes and games.
2. Encourage reading  by placing books within easy reach of children.
3. Build a sense of belonging  by hanging  children’s art at eye-level and labeling cubbies with each child’s name and picture.

Step #4 Spend Time with the Teachers

If children love their teacher, they’ll love school—and love learning. (Parenting wins!) Take the time to observe teachers with the children in the classroom. Are the children engaged? Do the teachers seem to love what they do and being with the children? Ask each teacher what they love about teaching or, if you have a concern about your child, bring it up. Their answers will tell you a lot about their passions and their openness to working with you! 

Step #5 Trust Your Instincts. You Know Your Family Best

Narrowing down what’s right can seem overwhelming at first, but asking yourself these questions can really help you out in the long run: Did you feel heard and understood by the director? Was the center warm and welcoming? When in doubt, trust your gut! This is your child after all, and you know them best. 

Step #6 Still Unsure? It’s Okay to Ask More Questions

Still on the fence? Go back for a second visit, call the director to ask questions—whatever you need! A great center will be more than happy to honor your request. The perfect center for you will make the experience all about you and your family!

Danielle Corbin is district leader at Rainbow Child Care Center, a leading provider of academic-based early childhood education.

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One Comment

  1. Steve says:

    One parent should stay home. Your kids would rather have you home, than have an extra vacation or vehicle. No one cares about your kids more than you do.

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