Questions to ask daycare providers

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abacaxi's picture
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Questions to ask daycare providers

DH and I have an appointment in a few hours to tour a daycare that we're considering for Rowan. It's our first time, and I don't know what all we need to ask. Any suggestions for things we should be looking for?

TiggersMommy's picture
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First suggestion. Go to Strauss ECE!!

Questions:

- Do they have a wait list?
- Do they require that you pay to hold her spot if you decide to keep her at home for awhile after #2 is born?
- Do they have part time options?
- Will they accommodate CDing? If not, why?
- Do they provide food for the kids? What do they feed them?
- What educational requirements do they have for their teachers?
- How to they handle disciplinary issues?
- How many kids are in each class?
- What is their approach for introducing literacy (I wish I'd asked this but I was in new parent shock and it seemed a far off issue)?
- Do they offer a discount for having two kids?

jperry5683's picture
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proof of background checks and certifications for employees

discipline approaches

incident processes and protocols -if they fall..get injured are sick etc..

food snack and drink nutritional info

potty training...cd..etc

curriculum info on when certain things are introduced..approaches to etc

tink9702's picture
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This is probably too late, but I'll chime in anyway.

ditto to the above. I'll add the following:

security procedures for drop off/pick up

CPR/first aid training for staff, how often, which teachers, is there a nurse on staff

What does a daily schedule look like (I'd want to see reading, art, outdoor play, sensory play & free play in there at minimum)

What is the criteria to move into the next room (age, walking, potty trained, etc.)

Teacher/Child ratio - then make sure it meets state requirements and your own idea of what makes sense for that age. Some states have a very high ratio that I personally wouldn't like.

Do they have a TV and what programming/how often/what age children does it get used for.

Do they accommodate BFing moms who want to leave breastmilk for baby's bottles, is there a fridge to put it in etc. How do they ensure your baby only gets your milk

What is their Vacation policy and what days are they closed.

Most of all - go with your gut. You'll know if it's not a good decision because you won't feel right about it.

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is it a home daycare or center?

KittyRN's picture
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I would definitely ask about food/menus. I have know a few home day care providers and have seen with my own eyes what they give the kids. Definitely not a balanced diet. I have only seen the poor kids get peanut butter sandwiches, various cookies, goldfish, etc. I know its hard to feed more than 1 kid, but seriously, some fruits/veggies would be nice.

abacaxi's picture
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Thanks for all the advice. We went, and were not impressed. I really wanted to like this place - it's super convenient to my home and office (like walking/bike riding distance), they have ranch animals, they have webcams, and they provide all the food. But we visited both the 1 year old class and the two year old class - the one year old room smelled bad, and there was just a big pack of kind of dirty looking kids standing around. One teacher was all the way on the other side of the room with one child, and the other teacher seemed to be just hanging out. The entire time we were in the room, one little boy was just standing there screaming, and nobody did anything abut it. Maybe that's just how that kid behaves, but Rowan is a screamer too, and I don't want her to just be ignored. The 2 year old classroom was better, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Plus, the policies and procedures as explained by the assistant director are different than the written ones I was given.

Erin, I am going to check out Strauss.

TiggersMommy's picture
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You're likely to find dirty kids at every center you go to. Teagan comes home looking like she's been in a mud wrestling ring some days. It just means they've been having some messy fun. The screaming thing would bother me. T's teachers are really attentive and her lead teacher is like the freaking baby whisperer.

When do you plan to start her? If you're looking at Strauss, she'll be put in one of the 1 year old classrooms until enough slacker parents of 3 year olds have potty trained their damn kids.

I'm not bitter.

alwayssmile's picture
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Eek. Usually the planned tours are when they're at their best! I was going to suggest if you like a center make a second surprise visit to ask questions and see the rooms again. I know as a teacher if a tour was set up in advanced I knew about it and would plan the day accordingly so they didn't see chaos in my room. Of they came unannounced we let them right in and that's when they were more likely to see kids running around and a teacher standing in the middle of the room thinking oh good grief. Ha ha.

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"TiggersMommy" wrote:

When do you plan to start her? If you're looking at Strauss, she'll be put in one of the 1 year old classrooms until enough slacker parents of 3 year olds have potty trained their damn kids.

I'm not bitter.

We are very lucky that the 3 year olds do not have to be PT. They only have to be PT by 4 which is so nice if your child is having trouble PTing. You have to start by 3, but it doesn't have to be finished until the PreK room which they move into at 4.

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For me i went very much on the feel of the plave, ut i also only had about two weeks to find somewhere seeing as the in home service had stuffed me around.
I liked thatthey were fine with cloth nappies and breast milk ( Ronin was the only kid not on formula) I didn,t ask many questions beyond cloth nappies though. One thing i did like about the centre i chose is they invited me to bring Ronin along to play a xouple of times before he started if I wanted to so we could both get a feel for the centre and the room.

Wow to the late toilet training, I think for room progression to the pre kindy which starts around two ish ( ratios recently changed so room ages changed a bit as well) they need to be mostly toilet trained.

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Wow. That sounds like a bad vibe all around.
Madison comes home looking like she got into a jar of peanut butter and jelly or something crazy. I never send her in her best clothes.
Good Luck on finding a place. The only other question I would ask that hasn't been mentioned : Do they charge you for days your kid isn't there, like on vacation, etc.:

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I hope you find a place that you like. Evan also comes home some days looking awful. They always tell what it was that made them so messy. One thing I love about our place, if we go in late or pick him up early, the teachers are always down at child level playing with/teaching them. We also get two weeks a year as vacation, we don't have to pay those weeks.

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"TiggersMommy" wrote:

You're likely to find dirty kids at every center you go to. Teagan comes home looking like she's been in a mud wrestling ring some days. It just means they've been having some messy fun. The screaming thing would bother me. T's teachers are really attentive and her lead teacher is like the freaking baby whisperer.

When do you plan to start her? If you're looking at Strauss, she'll be put in one of the 1 year old classrooms until enough slacker parents of 3 year olds have potty trained their damn kids.

I'm not bitter.

ROFL Sorry, Erin. Maybe the new batch coming in to those rooms will be quick and brilliant and get the heck out to make room for you! (All: there's a bottleneck in the potty training classrooms, which are for 2-3yos, but nobody can move up until they're PT because the other classrooms do not have potties in them. Adair is moving up with a batch of kids from her class, but Teagan, being 3 months younger, has to wait for another spot to open before she can move, even though she's a PT genius!)

Aside from that minor logistical issue...DITTO CHECK OUT STRAUSS. Their adult/child ratio is the lowest in town (4:1), and the teachers are engaged with the children 100% of the time--no standing around chatting and ignoring screaming kiddos allowed. I have never once seen teachers slacking off, much less while a single child needed ANYTHING. Every single teacher in that school knows Adair by name and seem genuinely delighted to see her when we cross paths, although she's only ever been in one class there so far--it's such a caring community. They have an emergent curriculum that is definitely age appropriate and Adair has learned a lot from school already (right now they're studying space--yesterday Adair told me she "painted balls" :lol:). While yes, she comes home 99% of the time coated in paint, dirt, and food residue, that just says to me that she's been having a grand old time and doing fun, messy activities. Parents are allowed and encouraged to drop in at any time and participate, hang out, whatever. They even have cameras in every room linked to a monitor in the office, so you can check in and see how your kid is doing after you left (I only ever did this the very first day, but it's nice to know the option is there.) I seriously could not possibly feel more comfortable with a place to leave my child for the day.

Also, I don't know where you live but Sandbox is supposed to be pretty good too. Don't know a ton about it but worth looking into if it would be more convenient for you.

Good luck!!!

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We have an appointment at Strauss today, and at another one near my house.

DH says I shouldn't have said the kids looked dirty, he says they (and everything else there) looked dingy. The kids didn't look like they'd been doing messy activities, they looked unkempt. DH didn't like it there either.

I asked Rowan if she wanted to look at another school today, and she said "Hee-haw! Eyes! Nose! Donkey eating grass!" Because the daycare yesterday had animals, and they had a pony by the office. She thought the pony was a donkey.

I wish my in-laws would just watch her like they said they would, and then I wouldn't have to look at daycares until she turns 2, as per our original plan.

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I was wondering if that's what you meant. That's definitely no good...reminds me of a daycare my DH always used to drive past as a kid and still talks about with a vague horror.

Say hi to A & T! Smile

Sorry about the inlaws. My mom is starting to make some noise about her one day a week...I mean really? That's why you MOVED HERE...to be close to your grandchildren. Give me a break.

TiggersMommy's picture
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How was Strauss? I ran into the director (Lyn) on my way out and she was really excited to have a friend of T's stopping by.

I inquired at the Sandbox2. It, Strauss, and the JCC are the only NAEYC accredited daycares in town, which come with the low student/teacher ratios, better education, higher cleanliness standards, and better curriculum. The Sandbox2 was full, doesn't accept infants part time, and was more expensive. So we didn't even bother touring. Their playground looked fantastic though!

Oh, and T's room definitely smelled of poo when we arrived but one of the new wee babies had just had an epic poop. So if you went in there and smelled poop just know that's abnormal and NOT indicative of their cleanliness. If one of the kids so much as gets a cold they bleach the entire room down and wash EVERYTHING. Their toys are always in excellent condition and they never have crappy battery operated toys. In fact, I think they're banned along with character toys.

ETA: I've heard great things about the JCC. My PI sent her DD there and loved it. They're just way to far north for us to even consider it. Its not that far of a hike for you though. Sandbox2 is pretty close to you. Still, Strauss is better Smile

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We liked Strauss a lot. It was definitely much better than the one we looked at yesterday. We peeked into T's classroom, but it was empty - they had all been taken to another room. If we go there, they're going to put Rowan in a 2 year old class, so we spent more time checking out those rooms.

We have an appointment on Friday to look at one more, but it doesn't have the same level of accreditation, plus when I talked to someone on the phone, it was through a call center and she couldn't even properly pronounce the name of the street the school was on. So it's a big national chain school, and I don't know how I feel about that - DH and I both prefer to spend our money on locally owned businesses.

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"TiggersMommy" wrote:

I inquired at the Sandbox2. It, Strauss, and the JCC are the only NAEYC accredited daycares in town, which come with the low student/teacher ratios, better education, higher cleanliness standards, and better curriculum.

As a teacher who has helped with getting a center accredited, omg it's NOT EASY. It's soooo much work. My center had to find a way to pay teachers to stay longer hours because there was no way for them to work on accreditation paperwork and be with the kids. And we had the *easier* one since we were just doing a school age accreditation, not a full center with early childhood classrooms. Trying to prove that your center meets NAEYC standards and then to keep them up and prove it again every few years is tough and takes a truly dedicated team. Oh, and it's also not cheap!!! I wouldn't say a NAEYC has better education as much as the higher standards a center has to keep up keeps it from dropping into into one of the not so nice centers that we associate with not much learning.

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"abacaxi" wrote:

We liked Strauss a lot. It was definitely much better than the one we looked at yesterday. We peeked into T's classroom, but it was empty - they had all been taken to another room. If we go there, they're going to put Rowan in a 2 year old class, so we spent more time checking out those rooms.

Ooh, if you pick it, maybe she'll be in Addy's class!

Jackie--yeah, we parents all had to fill out a long survey a couple of weeks ago for the accreditation renewal. I understand what you mean about other places being good but just not having the time/money to get accredited, but I must say, I do like knowing that they are being held to such high standards!