As a working mom, childcare is a vital part of our day, and an important topic to consider. How does one family pick the right daycare or preschool for their children? My son has had three different types of childcare, and the first two played an influential role in selecting his current preschool.
Here I am sharing the factors I found to be important when deciding on the preschool for our son.
This post is sponsored by KinderCare. All opinions are my own.
Childcare that makes a Working Mom’s Life Easier
Being a working parent means our schedules are packed full of responsibilities. The more assistance we can get from our child care the better. Part of the reason we had an in-home nanny is she prepared meals and helped take care of various child-related errands.
Does the center serve nutritious food?
When we switched to a daycare center, we needed similar support from them. I have been selecting centers that provide meals as that takes so much more weight off my shoulders. My son is picky enough without me having to put together snacks and meals he won’t eat. Plus, at home, he almost only survives on air or a peanut-butter related dinner, and those are a no-no at daycare centers. I’m so thankful that both daycares we have used so far have provided meals. This way I know he eats at least something balanced and nutritious being surrounded by other kids eating.
Do they potty train?
Another thing that is super helpful with these centers is they teach their kids to use the potty. Again, my son tends to resist everything I try to do at home but is much more willing to follow what the other kids are doing and what the teachers ask. Having the daycare center potty train my child during the day and only have me continue with their work at home (rather than me initiate) has made the transition so much easier.
Does the center provide a daily report on the child’s progress?
A daily report has proven to be a critical link between childcare during the day and parenting time in the evening and weekends. Knowing what activities he has done, what he has excelled in or struggled with, helps me to know what I need to focus on at home. My nanny would give us daily updates, but my son was very young at the time, so these updates did not include too many educational and developmental details. Our next daycare did not have daily reports at all, only letting us know if something significant occurred. My current preschool center is terrific and has a daily report with lessons and topics and provides some guidance on what parents can reinforce at home. I also love getting photos during the day, so I know our son is enjoying his time.
A Preschool that provides Early Education
There are a variety of types of daycares. Some are more like a babysitting service, which is the type of care is what I opted for while my child was an infant and early toddler. We had a nanny babysitter come to our home and look after our child. It was enough for him at the time.
Others are more like a school environment, focusing on early childhood education. When I noticed my child was refusing to speak at the age of two, I realized he needed a more structured environment to encourage language and focus on development. First, we went with a regular daycare center where our child got to play around other children his age and those slightly older. The center was small so most of the time the toddlers and preschoolers were together. Exposure to other children helped encourage his language development to take off, and he was quickly speaking in 2-word sentences and counting to 10.
After our recent move just before my son turned three, we decided to switch to an educational child care center rather than a daycare for his preschool class. We have seen exponential improvement in his abilities and willingness to learn and try new skills. He suddenly started speaking in sentences, saying words I didn’t know he knew, and being able to do new things with his hands and his body. I noticed how much more observant he became, even seeing the order that I do things in the morning.
Why is a good preschool important?
We experienced multiple types of childcare in our journey to realize not all childcare centers are the same, and understand the importance of choosing the right preschool for children. Preschool prepares children for kindergarten, starting their education off on the right foot and setting them up for their future.
Proper interaction skills are acquired in these early years, as well as the foundation for the love of learning and opening their young minds to the world around them. An early childhood education center will have a formal program for learning at all levels. This program will include developmental areas such as executive function skills (such as self-regulation, problem-solving, and adaptability), language skills, and emotional and cognitive development.
Most importantly, a good preschool center will have measures in place to promote classroom safety and school security. Having peace of mind that our child is safe and comfortable while we are at work is priceless.
A center that promotes Learning through Play
Children learn by experiencing the world around them, and when they don’t even realize they are learning. A great preschool includes a range of fun activities to encourage the development of a variety of skills in new and exciting ways. A good preschool will have educational centers the children can play at for a set amount of time, each center providing a unique activity (such as a building center with blocks or gears, a play kitchen to practice household skills, or a book center to nurture a love of reading).
Outdoor play is incredibly vital for children’s development, and not just to release their high energy. A good preschool will have a great outdoor playground with many options for new skill development. Kicking a ball around to develop coordination and spatial recognition is also great fun for preschoolers. A garden center that allows kids to dig and plant seeds is not just a metaphor for developmental milestones. As we all learned from the childhood favorite The Secret Garden, playing outside is the best or kids.
A childcare preschool center such as KinderCare is a great choice for an early education center. Their commitment to providing quality care and education for children of all abilities helps give all children a sense of belonging, encouraging their learning and skills to grow.
Selecting a preschool that is a good fit for your family is exactly that, a decision specific to your family’s need. I love this guide from KinderCare that helps you ask the right questions to help you pick the preschool and childcare center that fits your family.