How to Choose the Right Daycare for Your Family

Selecting the right daycare for your child is such a hard choice that requires careful consideration and research. It can get so overwhelming to know what to look for. From cleanliness and curriculum to outdoor play space and communication with staff, there are several key factors to keep in mind when evaluating your daycare options.

My number one tip is to sit down and write out what you are looking for in a daycare. This way you know what to keep your eye out for and what things are important to you.

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Many families qualify for Idaho childcare assistance (ICCP), so it’s helpful to see what providers offer that program. You can find more information on the program on the Idaho Health and Welfare website.

Of course, factor in tuition rates and location, but here are other important things you may want to consider.

Facility Tour

Always schedule a tour of the daycare facility before making any decisions. This allows you to observe the environment, interact with staff, and get a feel for the atmosphere. Pay attention to levels of cleanliness and organization throughout the facility. While you are on the tour, you have a chance to ask all the questions. I love to make a list so I know what I want to ask!

Sickness Policy

Inquire about the daycare’s sickness policy. Choosing a center that prioritizes the health and well-being of all the children is essential. A daycare that allows sick children to attend can result in a never-ending cycle of illnesses spreading among the kids. Also keep in mind that when your child is sick, he or she will have to stay home from daycare. It’s normal for children to get sick, but a well-enforced sickness policy can help ward off sicknesses in both children and staff.

Meals and Food Allergies

Ask about the meals provided and how the daycare handles food allergies or intolerances. Make sure that the facility can accommodate your child’s dietary needs. Many facilities provide meals, so ask for a menu so you can see what types of meals they are providing. It can be very beneficial if they provide meals. With my children, I only have to pack them lunch on days when I know they don’t particularly like what’s on the menu.

Curriculum and Play-Based Learning

Inquire about the daycare’s curriculum and how they incorporate play into learning activities. Look for a balance between structured learning experiences and opportunities for creative play. As they get into the older classes, there should be a bit more structure since the children are preparing for kindergarten. In the young classes, they should still be playing quite a bit.

Outdoor Play Space

A good outdoor play space is essential for children’s physical health and development. Ensure that the daycare has a safe and well-maintained outdoor area where children can play and explore. I always look for things other than play structures. Having unstructured play is very important. Grassy areas for them to explore nature are great!

After selecting your daycare . . .

Observation

When you’ve selected the daycare your child will attend, consider picking up and dropping off during non-peak hours. This allows you to see how the classrooms are running and how staff interact with the children when it’s not peak busy time.

Communication and Transparency

Don’t hesitate to ask questions and bring up any concerns you may have. Pay attention to how the staff and director respond to your questions. You want them to be open to addressing your concerns.

Crafts and Activities

Take a mental note of the crafts and activities your child brings home from daycare. This can give you insight into how often they engage in hands-on activities and creative projects. You can also see what they are learning about and have conversations about what new things they are discovering.

Collaboration with Providers

As a parent, work with the daycare provider to address any issues or concerns. With your cooperation, any concerns that arise will be fairly easy to navigate. A good daycare is willing to collaborate with parents and work together to find solutions.

And finally, go with your gut!

You should feel comfortable leaving your child there. If things seem fine, but you have a gut feeling that a certain place isn’t for you, listen to it! And keep looking for other providers.

Building a supportive relationship with your daycare provider is key! You need to feel comfortable in extending your trust to them. When parents and staff are on the same team and communicate effectively, it creates a positive environment for everyone involved, especially the children.

Choosing the right daycare for your child can be so daunting and stressful, but thorough research, observation, and communication can help ease those stressors. By considering factors such as cleanliness, curriculum, outdoor play space, and communication with staff, you can find a daycare that meets your child’s needs, provides a safe, nurturing environment, and that your child will love to go to every day!



The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Boise Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

Emma Dorsett
Emma is a mom to two beautiful girls, Alice (2018) and Avery (2021). She loves all things Taylor Swift and picking up new hobbies. Embroidery, reading, and sourdough are her go to, but she is willing to try just about anything. She has a background in early childhood education and has worked with children since 2018.

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