Choosing a daycare for your child is a big decision. Once you've got your short list of potential facilities, you'll want to visit each one to see what each is like in person, as there's only so much you can gather from referrals and online research. Read on to learn what to look for during your visit.
Does everyone seem happy and pleasant? You want to get the sense that the staff loves caring for young children. Keep in mind they will be on their best behaviour during your visit, so pay attention to subtle hints (the language and tenderness with which they speak to the children, for example). Also, are the children clean and enjoying themselves? Young children would be hard to rope into pretending to be happy for you as the guests, so watch whether they genuinely seem to enjoy their time and how they interact with the daycare staff.
Is the daycare safely equipped? Does it have gates at stairways? Window guards on windows? Clearly marked safety exits? Accessible fire extinguishers? How easy is it for people to enter the daycare and yard (ask what the procedure is for guests arriving at the daycare)?
Also, is the facility clean? Where is the food prep area and how well maintained is it? Check the washrooms and diaper area. Ask about the cleaning and hygiene practices the daycare has in place when it comes to pacifiers and other personal items.
Are the kids in the daycare the age of your child? You'll want to make sure your child has kids the same age to befriend. Also, pay attention to whether the age groups are divided up; young infants shouldn't be playing with older toddlers and kids. (This is more as a safety precaution, as sometimes older kids don't realize how gentle they need to be with babies.)
Ask what types of activities the children participate in, and look for toys and items that are engaging yet safe (no choking hazards). Day-to-day activities should include such things as reading, playing, singing and crafts.
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