I remember being 8 months pregnant, touring a daycare that seemed like a great option for our new baby girl.
Our tour guide was great! She was rattling off important information about ratios and food allergies and fire drills.
Even with what I thought was a very thorough list of my questions, there were things I did not anticipate needing to know as a first time parent.
To give you a head start, here are 6 questions to ask on every daycare tour.
1. What are the child to teacher ratios?
While these numbers are state regulated in the US, it’s important to ensure the prospective school is in compliance. It’s also important to ask if these ratios can change and under what circumstance. Some standard ratios include:
- 4:1 from 6 weeks to 3 years old
- 10:1 from 3 years to 6 years
- 15:1 for kindergarten
2. What are the qualifications of the staff?
Ideally staff will have would have degrees and experience in Early Childhood Education. It is also important to confirm that all staff members are CPR and First Aid certified and that these skills are retested every year.
3. Do you conduct background checks on all staff members?
Many parents ask this questions regarding the teachers, but it is critical to confirm all staff that have access to the school (cleaning service and kitchen staff for example) are checked as well.
4. What will children eat and is the school nut free?
Even if your child doesn’t have an allergy, it’s important to know the rules. If you’re packing lunch, you will have to be aware of the labels. Nut-free includes any product that is made in a factory with nuts. This may include many granola bars, breads, crackers, etc.
Any time I start to get frustrated with having to double-check everything, I put myself in the shoes of the parents who have a child with allergies and imagine the stress they feel.
5. What type of discipline policies are in place?
It’s most common that day care centers will use time outs as a method of discipline, but you should understand what circumstances warrant a time out and what they do about repeat offenders (ie: the child who bites repeatedly). Every school should have a documented discipline policy which they normally distribute as part of their enrollment packet. Not distributing this to a perspective parent should raise a red flag.
6. How will the school communicate my child’s daily progress?
Many schools will provide you with a paper daily sheet at the end of the day. This can be a life-saver, especially for parents with infants. When you pick up your child after a long day at work, you want to know their status. Did she eat her bottles? How many ounces? What about naps? Did my toddler have any accidents? Is he being respectful?
Online daily sheets are a big bonus, and are a great sign that the daycare really values parent-teacher communication. There’s nothing like getting an email update on my phone each day (with photos!) and being able to quickly look back in time and find trends.
If the school your touring doesn’t do online tracking, tell them about Munchkin Report! It would mean the world to us! ?