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This post is sponsored by KinderCare but all opinions are my own.
So, you’re looking for a child care center and not sure where to start? It’s so important to ask the right questions when choosing a daycare or preschool! I’ve been there…every time we needed to change centers, I felt overwhelmed. You want a school that will be nurturing and clean, but it also needs to challenge your kid just the right amount, set boundaries and keep them safe. If that isn’t hard enough to find, you also need a school that has a convenient location and won’t completely break your budget.
Leaving your baby or kid with a stranger for an entire day can be scary. If you ask the right questions during orientation, interview the director and teachers, and do your research, you will find the perfect place for your kid and your family. Before you know it, the teachers will feel like family and you will feel good about your decision. Your kid will thrive and they may even beg to stay longer when you go to pick them up at the end of the day!
I’m proud to say that I have partnered with KinderCare on this post because I absolutely love their approach! From how transparent their website is (you can even find sample class schedules!) and how inviting they were during our tour, to how, happy and engaged the children I saw were…it just seemed so well-run and nurturing! If you’ve spent a lot of time walking around child care centers, you know just how difficult “behaved yet happy and engaged” is to achieve!
To help you find the best center for you and your family, I’ve assembled the best questions to ask when choosing a daycare or preschool. These are the questions that I have used, gathered from other moms, and that providers wish parents asked when choosing a child care center! (Yup, I did my research!)
You don’t need to ask ALL these questions, but this is a good list to start from. In my personal experience choosing child care, different questions were important to us at different times. What was most important to me when I enrolled my first son at 3 months old, was no longer important when we moved him at 18 months old! We also had to consider our kids’ personalities! In this area, though, one of the items that was most important to us constantly was the center’s hours. You just never know when you’re going to get stuck in traffic so it’s great when I don’t have to worry (as much) about being late!
So, run through this list and decide what’s most important to you. Then make sure to ask the questions! Fill out the form at the bottom to get a printable version of this post with a comparison template to help you with your search!
Okay… Let’s get started!
General Questions to Ask When Choosing a Child Care Center:
- Is there a spot available when you need it?
- How many children are in the school (this location) and what is the age range?
- Is the location a franchise? How many centers does this owner have?
- How long has this center been in operation?
- What are the hours? Is there any extra charge for early drop off or late pickup?
- What days is the school closed? (They should have a calendar by the start of the year)
- Are there any enrichment classes?
[box] KinderCare has some AMAZING enrichment classes called Learning Adventures®! We had a chance to try out the Cooking Academy™ and my son had such a blast! Click here to see all their enrichment classes! (and stay tuned for another post about our experience trying out KinderCare’s Cooking Academy™![/box]
- What does the tuition cover and not cover?
- How often do the rates change? What is the typical increase from year to year?
Questions to Ask A Child Care Provider About Cleanliness:
- What is your routine for germ control at breakfast, lunch, snack time, potty time, and diaper changing?
[box] Tip: Look for hand sanitizer in all the key areas around the center![/box]
- How are the classrooms and toys cleaned?
- What cleaning products are used?
Questions to Ask A Preschool About Their Policies and Procedures:
- What is your vaccination policy?
- What is your sick policy (for children and caregivers)?
- What is your holiday policy? (What is and isn’t celebrated/recognized?)
- What is your snow day policy?
[box] Some child care centers, like KinderCare, stay open fairly often when it snows…and even offer a walk-in camp for older kids on snow days! This can be a huge life-saver if you’re a working parent who can’t take off on a snow day! (Especially when the weather changed last minute, and you didn’t get much snow…Next time it snows, call your local KinderCare to reserve a spot!)[/box]
- What is your philosophy on child discipline?
- How much time do kids spend outside per day?
- Under what conditions will you not go outside?
- When do kids need to be potty trained by?
- How do you potty train the kids?
- What is the process for moving your child to a new classroom?
Food Related Questions To Ask A Child Care Center:
- Is baby-led weaning allowed?
- How is breastmilk heated and handled?
- Do you provide food? If so, can I see a sample menu?
Questions To Ask A Child Care Center About Your Kid’s Classroom:
- How many children are in each room and what is the teacher to child ratio?
[box]During a recent visit to my local KinderCare, I got to meet the 4-year-old classrooms. They had so many children that they split it into THREE classrooms, all of which were well below the maximum ratios they could have in each because they didn’t want the kids to be overwhelmed. I was SO impressed![/box]
- What does a normal day look like? In this classroom?
- Do you have cameras in classrooms? Do parents have access to the feed?
[box]While cameras may sound great, keep in mind that WIFI-enabled cameras can be hacked. Sure, you can watch the classroom anytime and from anywhere, but so could others if they were to hack the feed.[/box]
- Are parents allowed to drop in any time?
- Can mom drop in to nurse during the day? Are there restrictions on when or how mom can nurse in the classroom?
- Will there be a room parent? What do they do?
- What involvement is expected of parents in the classroom, if any?
- What do parents provide? What needs to be sent in and on what schedule?
Important Questions To Ask A Preschool About Their Staff:
- What are the teachers’ degrees and qualifications?
- How long have the teachers been with the daycare?
- What are the director’s qualifications?
- How long has the director worked there?
[box]Don’t underestimate how important the director is! Make sure that you feel comfortable with him or her![/box]
Key Questions To Ask When Visiting A Child Care About Communication and Problem Resolution:
- How do you address issues the parents bring up?
- How do you communicate with parents?
- What information is shared daily?
- Are pictures shared with parents? When? How often?
Questions To Ask a Child Care If You Have Older Kids Too:
- Do you have a before or after school program?
- Do you offer “camp” for teacher work days or winter/spring break?
Last But Not Least:
- Do you have any violations on file? Check your local Department of Social Services website. For Virginia, click here.
I hope this list helps you! Remember, you don’t need to ask every question. Decide which are most important to you and use those!
And don’t forget to consider KinderCare during your search! They have tons of locations and are opening new locations every day! In fact, there’s a new location in South Riding! If you live or work in Chantilly, VA, be sure to check it out!