Choosing an early learning center for your child can be one of the most difficult decisions that working families have to make for their children.
It can be a daunting task to think about for most new moms. So, where do you begin? Start by making a list and asking some important questions.
- What hours will you be working? Are they flexible and would the job allow you to work some hours from home?
- What hours will you need each day and how many days will you need? Will a family member or a friend be watching them one or two days a week?
- Who is going to be doing the drop off and pickup?
- Think about the location…do you want a center that is closer to work/school or home?
- Do you want a corporate facility or a center that is smaller and has a homier feel?
- What can you afford?
These are very important questions to ask yourself before you begin your search for an early learning center for your child.
How to chose a center…start by using word of mouth.
Once you have these initial questions out of the way, start asking your colleagues, co- workers, family and friends where they send their children.
- Ask them about their experiences with their facilities.
- Find out if they would recommend their early learning center to you.
- Also, don’t forget to ask them if there are things that they don’t like about the center. Maybe they have an option on the policies, staff, cleanliness or curriculum?
- Who knows better than a family that is already attending a center about the true ins and outs?
But just because your friend or family member likes a center doesn’t mean that it will definitely be a right fit for you.
Things to consider: be prepared for your tour.
- Make sure you and your child feel comfortable and welcomed at the center during the tour.
- Ask about their curriculum.
- Are the staff CPR qualified? Do the teachers have degrees in early childhood education?
- Is the center accredited?
- Talk to staff and Director about how they manage negative behavior.
- How clean is the center? Who cleans it everyday?
- How are the rooms furnished? Children should have access to a variety of learning experiences, age appropriate equipment and play centers throughout the classroom.
The list of questions can be endless…so come prepared. Bring a list of all the things that are important to you in an early learning environment. It is hard to remember once you get to the center. Also, take good notes so you can revisit when you are trying to compare all the centers that you visit.
Visit more than one center.
It is very important to visit more than one early learning center. Don’t settle for the first center you visit. There are so many facilities out that that vary in so many ways. They may have different philosophies; curriculum, different ratios and some are large or small facilities. Really take the time to investigate all types of centers before you settle on the one that is the perfect fit for your family. In the end only you know what will work best for your family.