When deciding upon a childcare option for your preschooler, keep in mind that these early experiences are preparing your child for his or her elementary school days. Choosing the right daycare, preschool or even babysitter is important to your child’s education and growth.
First and foremost, you should be aware of the options that are available to you. Consider allowing a friend or relative to care for your child at times when you cannot. Daycare providers are another option, which are usually run by someone who cares for a small group of children, either at his or her home or at a childcare facility. Lastly, preschools offer caretakers who have backgrounds in early childhood development. Each of these options will be beneficial to different children, depending on their styles of learning.
Determine a Childcare Budget
Your budget plays a large role in deciding which childcare option is right for you and your child. While preschools usually offer more education preparation for your child, they also tend to be more expensive. Federal and state-funded programs do exist to aid low-income parents with the cost of childcare. You may also qualify for income tax credits. Many cities have local agencies available to assist you with finding a licensed and accredited childcare facility at the right price for you.
Do Your Research
Many well-rated childcare facilities will have a waiting list, as they fill up quickly. For this reason, you should begin considering your options well before the time comes when you need to make your decision. It is wise to visit each childcare facility that you are considering. Meet the people who will be caring for your child and tour the space. You should also check the backgrounds and references of any babysitters or daycare providers. You may want to develop a list of questions to ask the person, such as, “How long have you been working with children this age?” and “Why do you enjoy working with kids?” Look for a caregiver who has patience and is kind to you and to your child. Good childcare providers will be energetic, mature and nurturing.
You may even want to observe the childcare provider you’ve chosen with your child the first time you leave them together. Does the caregiver welcome your child to the group? Does he or she tend to your child when an issue arises? What tone does he or she use when speaking to your child? These are all qualities within a caregiver that require your approval. Talking to your child after he or she has spent some time with the caregiver is also important. Does your child like the person? Do they get along well? Is your child happy with the facility? Children will generally tell you how they feel about any given situation, and it is your job to take note.
Look for a childcare provider who is aware of and understands the individual needs of your child, and has the ability to cater to those needs. You may also want to look for someone who has a philosophy on child development that is similar to your own. The childcare option you choose should be a clean, safe and healthy environment. It should be equipped with materials to help your child learn and develop different life skills, and prepare him or her for the future.