5 Tips for Choosing a Daycare/Preschool
by Courtney Gupta
Finding a daycare or preschool for your little one can be challenging. Here are 5 tips to help make the process of looking for and choosing care for your child easier:
1. Get recommendations. Ask friends and family for daycares that they would and would not recommend. Make sure you ask them why. Even if you’re new to the area and don’t have friends yet, you can ask online communities, like mom2mom groups on Facebook or Nextdoor. Look for the daycares and preschools that the online community seems to recommend over and over again. Use these recommendations to compile a list that you can visit and narrow down.
2. Check the licensing reports. You can tell a lot about a daycare/preschool by looking at their licensing reports, especially special investigation reports. Make sure you read the reports thoroughly to see what violations, if any, the center has had. For special investigation reports, check whether a violation was found or not. In Michigan, you can search for centers and check their licensing reports at Great Start to Quality.
3. Focus on play. Your child will spend enough time in school once kindergarten starts, so for now, focus on play. Look for a daycare or preschool that believes play is learning. Your child learns through imaginative play and expressing creativity so look for a dress up area, a play kitchen, dolls, an arts and crafts area, etc. If a daycare or preschool claims to be academic, you may want to question its fit for you. Young children don’t need academics; they need play.*
4. Take a tour (or three). Once you’ve narrowed it down, take tours of your top places. You will know right away whether a place suits you and your child or not. How do the children look? How do the teachers interact with the children? Is it welcoming and clean? You can schedule a tour, but also feel free to drop in at any time to give you a true sense of the environment. During your tour stay, observe, and interact as long as you’d like--a director should welcome that.
5. Go with your gut. You can ask other people’s advice and read reviews and reports, but ultimately you have to go with your gut feelings. If something feels off, trust yourself. If you have multiple options and no red flags, then trust that you can’t go wrong with either one.
*For more information on the science behind play read NAEYC’s “The Case of Brain Science and Guided Play: A Developing Story.”