Interviewing for daycare choices for your child can be overwhelming and scary! There are often tons of things you forget to ask your provider so here I’ve made a list of things that you should want to ask or see from a provider.
If your baby is taking formula and baby food, make sure to ask their policy on that situation. Some places can not make a bottle (so they all have to be premade) where as others can. Trust me, that can be a real pain in the butt if you have to leave work early to go make an extra bottle for your babe! Ask things like, what do they do with the left over baby food your little might not finish in their sitting. You don’t want it wasted if they don’t have means to store the leftovers if they aren’t finished. That sort of thing isn’t cheap! If you’re leaning towards a private daycare or a dayhome see if you’re able to leave extras of formula and baby food at their location so that way baby is never without. As a ‘dayhome’ I always allow my parents to leave formula and baby food here, it’s so much easier than having to remember to send it home and bring it back every day. Ask what their policy is on finger foods when baby is starting. You’ll want to consider the child/provider ratio to make sure your child can have some undivided attention and things during meal time to ensure when they are trying new foods and textures they are never alone.
A big one I find on most parents minds: discipline and potty training. By this point in the game most toddlers are okay with ‘adult’ foods but make sure to keep your provider in the loop of any allergies (or family allergies to ensure your provider is aware there could be an allergy). It is very important to talk with your provider about any texture issues your child might have. Every child responds differently to food and you’ll want your provider aware if there are specific things you know your little one won’t eat. Most daycare places will follow a structured meal plan and that’s where we had trouble with my son when he was in care. He was very anti-meat at that point in his life and I had a very hard time explaining to our provider that he would not eat those things so please don’t force him. Keep your provider in the loop if you’re feeding your children at home before they come, that way your children aren’t fighting your provider on eating a meal and she’s not understanding why. Another big subject to talk with your provider is discipline and how they conduct it. In my dayhome, we use a count down ‘warning’ type method and I find that it is often enough. Very rarely have I put a daycare child into time out. And for those of you who don’t want your child disciplined by another person, don’t put your child in daycare. Kids need to understand who the authoritative figure is in a setting and if there is no concept of discipline that won’t happen, I promise you! Discipline in a daycare setting keeps the structure and the hierarchy in tact without letting multiple toddlers run wild.
Potty training is another one of my toddler parent’s first questions. Ask what the policy is, do they do it, how much do they help or not help for that matter. Make sure they are willing to do the same training methods as you are wanting to use; some providers won’t do a “treat” for using the potty as it’s too frustrating to explain why Johnny gets a treat for using the toilet but the rest of the class doesn’t. My son’s daycare had the policy that if they were in underwear they had to wipe themselves. For him that’s been an impossible tact so it was very frustrating trying to talk to our daycare provider on this and or having him come home from daycare covered in poo. Also make sure you have extra clothing for those kiddos who are potty training. Keep in mind that if you are going to expect your daycare provider to dedicate her time (and MAJOR efforts) to potty training you need to dedicate the same efforts when your child is home with you. There will be no forward progress if you expect your child to be potty trained between the hours of 9-5, Monday thru Friday. Same with the weekends, make sure you are carrying through the same teaching principals during potty training as they are carried through on the weekdays or you will get nowhere and every Monday will turn into a day of relearning and frustration all around.
For School aged:
Make sure to ask your provider things regarding things like homework help. Do they help, are they willing to help? Are they capable to enforce homework time and provide a quite work area for older children to sit and work on their studies without being interrupted by younger children?
-ask about the types of food being served, if providers can and are willing to work with dietary needs.
-how is extra time calculated, what if you’re running late? Are you charged?
-ask about days not used, vacations, sick and holidays, are you charged?
-is there a daily structure that will be kept to? Do you get copies of the daily plans?
-how is pay taken? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Daily? Will it be claimed on taxes (of the provider or yourself)?
I tell all my daycare families to come to me with a list of questions they want to ask, as you should! You should be prepared to ask your daycare provider anything, after all they are helping to raise and mold your children in the adults they will become!