We’re looking to place the boy in daycare because we want him around other children in a regular, structured way. Plus, we need to get, at least, back up care established for those times with the grands are unavailable. We think daycare is an opportunity.
Me and Dawn are searching, researching, and touring these weeks. We’re grateful that his grandmothers continue to care for him and that they aren’t tossing him like spoiled food. So we aren’t pressed for time.
Here are a few questions I’m thinking through. I’ve already asked most of them in that first visit. Dawn, when she calls people, will cover these too in her own way. Some of the questions are naturally covered by a the provider, in a brochure or a website, but if they aren’t, you should raise them. I’d love to have your input on these as well. So leave more questions in the comments please.
- How long has this place been operating? You will probably know this going into a conversation or a tour. Vehicles like Yelp make knowing this easy. But it may give the person you talk with a simple way to tell you a story or two that captures what the place is about, how it’s changed over time, and what their mission is.
- Who works here? You cannot overstate the role that caregivers have in a child’s development. The person with the child really becomes one of his primary teachers, models, and builders. You want to know the people who spend time with your kid. You want to know why they do what they do. You want to know that they’re safe and sane.
- Describe a normal day in this center? This question is helpful if you have a well-established ritual because you’ll know how much distance is between what your kid is doing now and what he may be doing in that center. An answer should help you see how well your values can fit into their program. For instance, I need to know how the boy’s sleep routine will be respected!
- What do you do with the children? For me this is an introduction into content. The answer should give an image into what my boy will walk away with, what he’ll learn, and how active he’ll be in a day or a week. A variation of this question is, what do you teach the children?
- Is the food good? Kids are picky and this question underlines that. More importantly though, you need a sense of what types of snacks you may want to introduce your kid to ahead of time. Most places can’t cook up what you have at home. When Bryce went to the daycare the other week, he spit the food out at lunch and wouldn’t eat the breakfast either. I laughed after a while. It wasn’t because it was nasty but because he was pissed being there. Still, I wonder if those good people can throw it down the way I do in the kitchen.
- How much is my kid worth to you? In other words, what does it cost to come here? And if you’re me, the next question is probably why does it cost so much… Of course, you’ll want to get a sense of what care costs where you are, in your community or in places near you. When there are large discrepancies between places, you should point them out, especially if you can’t see the reasons in the physical environment or in the program structure.
- What happens when the kids go nuts? I am always thinking about this when my son goes to the children’s ministry at church. He’s had a lot of experience going nuts, and I’ve seen those nice people walking him around, whispering things in his ears that he’s not listening to. He’s looking out for his mother or his father. The same question comes up these days with childcare facilities. I’ve learned already that individual teachers are usually assigned to a kid. And that the other kids keep doing what they’re doing. Sometimes the kids will try to comfort the screaming head. I can see my son’s future.
- How can parents be involved? I like and don’t like this part of what I’m noticing. Most places require that parents be involved—usually by bringing snacks or serving on a committee or something like that. I like this in theory. It means that parents will see and know and be around the “community” that is shaping their children. And yet I have my reservations. I’m paying childcare because I’m busy. Because my wife is busy. It looks like parenting and child-rearing, even when it’s done with the hands of paid helpers, will continue to command my life.
- What else should I ask you?
You can find more questions here. Happy baby care hunting. And leave questions in the comments if you think of any.