Whether it’s your first time putting your little one in daycare, or you need to find a new one because you’ve moved, or because you’ve had another child and don’t want to put two kids in two different daycares – finding the right daycare can be challenging. And it can feel overwhelming to try to think of all the questions you need to be asking to find just the right daycare for your family.
To narrow down your options, use this quick list of questions for daycare and what you are looking for in the answers. Quick disclaimer – this is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, and if there is something that you aren’t sure about – ASK. It’s always better to ask and get a clear answer than to assume, especially when it comes to your children.
Top 5 Questions for Daycare
- Fees, fundraising, and parental involvement
This is a primary question for your daycare that often determines if they are an option to consider. What are their hours? For so many people, this is one of the biggest challenges – if you start work at 8 am, you need to drop off and still have time for your commute in the morning rush, so having a center that opens at 7:30 am might not work best for you.
Same goes for pick-up time – how late are they open? And what are their policies related to late pick-ups? We all know that things happen, and the tighter your timelines, the more likely you are to get stuck in traffic and hit every red light.
The next question for your daycare is about food and responsibility. What is the center providing, and what do you have to pack? Some daycares will provide a hot lunch and two snacks, some will only provide snacks and you have to send lunch, and some daycares will not warm up a lunch, so you need a thermos if you want your child to have a hot lunch.
Be honest with yourself about how much work you want to put into making sure your kid has everything they need for the next day. Making dinners every day is a lot (adulting is fun), and adding lunches on to that might be a stressor that you aren’t interested in.
What is their philosophy for how children learn? This is an ambiguous question without a straightforward answer. What this open-ended question does is gives you insight on how the daycare operates. Are they very academic? Highly structured? Do they believe children learn through experiential discovery and play? This question is all about making sure that the daycare’s philosophy aligns with your own.
Fees, Fundraising, and Parental Involvement –
What are the expectations? When you ask this question to your daycare, you are trying to get a glimpse of the full picture.
It’s one thing to have a center with low fees, but what if they also have mandatory volunteerism one day per month per kid. Or, what if you find out that they do an annual fundraiser with minimum expectations for each child? Again, this is about what works for you, your schedule, and your mental health (especially for those that dread fundraising).
How are they dealing with health-related safety issues? If your child has a runny nose, as kids do, do they have to stay home until it’s cleared up? There are so many other questions about safety in daycare but talking through the sick policy this one will give you insight into the other questions you may have.
Finding the Right Daycare
It’s hard to know where to start when looking for a daycare, let alone what questions to ask, so the above list will give you a place to start as you find the perfect daycare for your family. From there, make a note of anything else that comes up you might want to explore, like how they will help your child adjust, how they handle meltdowns, and more. It’s always better to ask your questions for daycare upfront to have clarity.
Let us know if there are questions or topics that have served you well when talking to potential daycares!