Questions to Ask Daycare

Questions to Ask Daycare

It’s the dream—finding a childcare setting that suits you and your child where dropping them off feels like taking them to their second home. Often, visiting daycares and weighing your options can seem like a tough (and time-consuming) decision, but getting the right information can make things easier. So, we’ve put together a list of questions to ask daycare for you.
No daycare is absolutely perfect. It’s all about finding a place that matches your family’s routine, your child’s personality, and the aspects of childcare that are more important to you.

In this article: 📝

  • What questions should I ask daycare?
  • The ultimate “what should I look for in a daycare?” checklist
  • What questions should a daycare provider ask parents?

What questions should I ask daycare?

The essentials:

These are the fundamental daycare questions. The answers will tell you whether you’re visiting a reputable childcare provider that you can trust to look after your little one.

  1. Are they licensed or how long have they been licensed? If you get their license number, you can check it to see if there are any reports against the daycare. You can also ask for references from other parents.

  2. Do they conduct background checks on their employees?

  3. How many children attend the daycare and what is their child to caregiver ratio? For example, a group of 20 children with two staff members has a ratio of 10:1, which is relatively normal for children aged three and over.

  4. What degrees, certifications, or training do their staff have? Asking about CPR or first aid training can help to reassure you. In larger settings, there may also be a nurse on staff.

  5. What security measures are in place? For example, how do they check that any new people collecting children are authorized to do so?

About money:

There can often be unexpected costs when your child enrolls in daycare. Ask upfront so you don’t get a surprise on their first day.

  1. Is there an enrollment fee?

  2. What fees are associated with the sessions?

  3. Are there payment schemes or discounts for siblings?

  4. When is payment due and how do they accept it?

About food:

If your child is going to have a long day in the setting, they’re going to get hungry. Here are some questions to ask daycare providers to find out how they keep the children full.

  1. Do they have set meal and snack times, what do they serve, and is there anything that parents need to provide? It’s common for daycares to prepare a (hopefully healthy) lunch but to expect parents to drop their child off with their own snack.

  2. If a child has allergies, how would they handle them?

  3. For young babies, how do they handle frozen or pumped breast milk, or how do they prepare formula? Is stopping by to breastfeed your child an option?

The need-to-know facts for your family:

Daycare is a chance for your child to make some of their first friends, but it’s also probably a service that you need to go to work. There’s no point in choosing a setting that doesn’t fit around your work hours or commitments to older children, so ask these daycare questions to find out about the practicalities.

  1. What are their opening hours?

  2. Are there fixed drop-off and pick-up times, do they work around a strict naptime, is there more flexibility (for example, if you work shifts)?

  3. How many vacation days do they take each year? Also, do they have a policy on how much vacation time your child can take?

  4. Are they closed for any holidays?

  5. What’s their sick child policy? Some settings require a child to be fever-free for 48 hours before they go back to daycare. During the first year, your child will probably pick up a lot of new bugs, which could mean extra days off work for you.

  6. What happens if the staff are sick? Do they have a backup plan to make sure that you’re not left without childcare at the last minute?

  7. What happens if you’re running late to pick up your child? Can they provide a meal and is there an extra fee?

  8. Is there a waiting list?

The ultimate “what should I look for in a daycare?” checklist

It’s a good sign when a daycare gives you a handbook that gives you answers to your questions. It’ll be useful when you need to double-check something or if you get home and realize that you’ve forgotten some of the information. But ultimately, it’s about more than just facts.

You also have to consider whether the daycare matches up with your philosophy in the following areas.

So here are some final questions to ask when looking for daycare:

  1. What’s their general attitude to childcare? Is their day very structured or is there a lot of free play? Are activities led by the children’s interests, or is the curriculum set a year in advance? Do they go on field trips? Do the children have screen time? Do they spend a lot of time outside? None of these are necessarily good or bad, but different children will benefit from different approaches.

  2. How do they handle discipline or behavioral problems? Almost every parent has picked their child up from daycare only to hear that they’ve bitten someone, or broken something, or been unkind to their friend. It’s always an awkward situation, but trusting that the staff would handle the situation in the same way as you would will make things easier.

  3. How do they share updates? Consider how much you want to know about what your child has been doing. Do you want to hear every day or just get a weekly summary? Do you want to be able to go online for information, or would you prefer a conversation with their caregiver at the end of the day?

  4. Especially post-Covid, what are their sanitization policies? Are you comfortable with how often the toys are cleaned and how much contact children from different groups have with each other?

  5. How do they approach potty training? When your child visits daycare from a young age, teaching them to use the toilet is a group effort. If they’re still in diapers, you might also ask about what supplies you need to bring and whether they can support you using cloth diapers.

  6. What’s their vaccination policy?

  7. Are there any animals on the property?

And, of course, you should ask any other questions you have regarding your child, their health, or their personality. After all, you know them best.

What questions should a daycare provider ask parents?

Visiting a daycare is mostly a fact-finding mission for you, but a good childcare provider should also ask some questions about your family. Your child’s new teachers and caregivers will have to get to know your little one and keep them safe and happy.

The information you give will tell the daycare a lot about where to place your child and how to help if separation anxiety kicks in and they need some reassurance.

  1. How would you describe your child’s personality?

  2. When did they hit certain milestones like crawling, walking, or talking?

  3. Do they have a favorite toy or any special interests?

  4. What is the family setup (couple, single parents, LGBTQ, siblings)?

  5. Does your child have any allergies or healthcare concerns?

Finally, remember the most important part of a daycare visit is getting a feel for the place. If you get a bad vibe, trust your gut even if the setting looked great online. And if you feel a connection to somewhere, add it to your shortlist even if they don’t have the biggest garden or the newest toys. Trust your mama instincts, and get ready to visit some daycares.

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