Childcare is one of the most important considerations for working moms. Daycares are a great opportunity for a child to develop important skills and socialize, but choosing the right childcare facility can be challenging. Here are three tips to keep in mind when you’re choosing a daycare for your child.

Bring Your Child for a Test Run

Your mama bear instincts might make you wary of leaving your child under another person’s supervision, but there are plenty of great daycares out there that will welcome your child with open arms and make sure they’re safe, happy and cared for when you’re away.

To help ease your anxiety, ask if you can bring your little one along for a day to spend an hour or two in the daycare. You can see how the caretakers interact with the children, get a feel for the facility’s atmosphere and see how your child responds to their peers and the environment. This will help you determine if you can trust the facility and staff with your child while you work.

Check the Schedule

Routine is important for children’s stability. Different age groups will be given different schedules based off their developmental milestones and objectives at that age. For two-year-olds and younger, lots of stimulating free-play is important. Along with guided play and learning time, nursery schools should give children the freedom to explore and play throughout the day that encourage communication and mobility. A good facility will have a mix of both.

Around age three, children should have a mix of play and learning that help prepare them for preschool. Structured activities that are still fun for children like arts & crafts are great ways to introduce them to big concepts that will carry them through their first years of schooling. Every daycare has its own philosophy, so make sure you ask about each facility’s lesson planning, beliefs, and play-to-learning balance.

Check for Qualifications and Inspections

Ask about hiring requirements and qualifications for all assistants and caretakers. At the minimum, a daycare assistant should be CPR-certified and have some prior experience working with small children. Teachers should have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.

To do some outside investigation, look up inspection reports for each daycare from the licensing board. You will be able to view all of their reports and see what they’ve been reprimanded for in the past or if there are any outstanding issues that need to be resolved. These inspection reports can give you an important look at sanitation, childcare practices, staff behavior behind-closed-doors, and public opinion of the facility.

Many parents start looking at facilities months before their children are even ready to go to an out-of-home child care facility. It’s okay to be selective when it comes to your child’s care. Take your time, ask plenty of questions and, most importantly, trust your instinct. The right place will check all your boxes and make you feel comfortable.

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