Finding the right daycare for your child is a daunting task for parents. These days most parents are working (both mother and father) and stay in nuclear families. This means they usually need to be out of the house to work and don’t have an elderly person or grandparents of their children staying with them. In such situations, most of the parents opt for daycare or full-time maids.
“It is not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted.”
What is a daycare?
Daycare centers, also called day nursery, nursery school, or crèche (French: “crib”), are places or special setups that provide required facilities and care to infants/toddlers and young children usually during the day, particularly so that their parents can hold jobs. They ensure they are picked back safely once they return from school, have their meals, be comfortable, feel at home, do their homework, play, and are finally handed over to parents in the evening or late evening or drop them at their homes.
Types of Daycare
There are different types of daycare setups available like some private daycare chains which are spread across cities with multiple centers in one city etc. They have the same management and ideally are the trusted brands, they usually have their franchise across the cities. They have a defined set of rules, protocols, and formats which are followed in all their setups diligently.
On small scale, there could be stand-alone or individual daycare centers that operate as autonomous bodies and provide required facilities.
These days there are many home-based daycares as well, maybe in your buildings, apartments, or nearby. They do not have the capacity for many children and multiple activities etc.
We do see some schools are having their daycares, where
the child can spend after school hours, kind of residential boarding schools. Many corporates also encourage daycares or crèche in their office premises to ensure employees can take care of their children while they work. These are available mostly for women employees, where they could take short breaks from work and attend to child needs for some time and then resume work.
How much does daycare cost?
The daycare centers are evolving as a growing business these days, owing to long working hours in metro cities and corporate jobs, etc. The cost usually ranges from Rs.300 per hour to Rs. 1000 per hour or Rs.1500 per month to Rs.12,000 per month depending on many contributing factors like the age of the child, food and co-curricular activities, transportation, etc. could incur additional costs and expenses. However, there could be some discounts based on sibling quota or any school/employer tie-ups.
What will my child do at daycare?
It depends upon the type of daycare you choose and the age of your child/baby. For sure, they would be happy interacting and playing with other children and toys and shall stay away from TV or tabs and save their eyes from excessive screen times, etc. The daycare I chose for my child was Podar Jumbo Kids- Bhandup. It was well equipped with good teachers and lots of extracurricular activities. They ensured that post-school hours my child got proper meals and sleep and in the evening time post snacks, kids would enjoy dance and art sessions. There were yoga and fitness regimes also to be followed.
Factors to be considered while choosing a daycare
Further, we shall try and explore on pre-requisites of good daycare and things we should remember and check before sending our children out there.
Once we are completely convinced, we shall be at peace while working as our child would be in safe hands.
For sure, good quality child care keeps children safe and healthy. Besides, it helps children develop skills needed to be successful in school and their lives outside of school: social, emotional, and interpersonal skills, pre-literacy, and basic analytical skills and concepts.
1. Reputation and Years of establishment
We should check on the reliability and credibility of the daycare. We should know from how long they have been providing their services and whether there are any complaints/concerns or major issues reported against the daycare service provider etc.
We can ourselves do a spot check by visiting the daycare to check on the amenities, treatment given to children. This shall reassure you of the quality and the environment the daycare provides.
We can also check with fellow parents and older children and can get first-hand feedback. We can also Google search the daycare for reviews and analyze their reviews etc.
2. Pick up/drop Facility
This is an important aspect of choosing any daycare and it can save a lot of your time in the future. On the days when you are working from home, you need not go all the way to pick your child, or even if you are getting delayed in the office or stuck in traffic, this will save your time to go to daycare and pick your child.
3. Agility (Flexibility of timings)
Usually, daycares have standard timings to operate i.e 8 am to 8 pm, etc. You may check if the daycare has an option for some extended timings? This is primarily to ensure that your child is taken care of in case you are getting delayed in the office or stuck in traffic.
You may also check if daycares support operations during nights and on Sundays. This is also an important highlight to ensure you could attend your late-night official team outings or hang out with your friends and have some time for yourself.
4. Infrastructure & location
Make sure to check the infrastructure of the daycare in terms of space and sizes of the classrooms and activity areas. One must check the proximity of the kitchen and washrooms from the rooms where children are kept. Young infants and toddlers in no way should be able to go to washrooms or kitchen (near a fire) on their own but should always be accompanied by some staff.
We should also check whether baby/ child safety has been taken care of and that there is no sharp furniture or edges anywhere which could potentially harm or hurt your child.
5. Security, Safety & Discipline
You need to check the security measures any daycare would take before handing over the child. For example, even if you are a known parent to the staff, an identity card with a photo should be must and in case you are not the primary person to pick the child, the guardian must show an application, etc
. and reconfirmation could be taken on the phone.
You need to check that how vigilant they are when any stranger approaches them and any random hours to pick the child etc. These days all daycares are CCTV enabled, you can do some spot check or review a few recordings for your satisfaction. Real-time CCTV coverage on mobile phones is commonly provided these days by daycares.
6. Food & Water
Parents must inspect the quality of the food and the menu. It means the food provided should be healthy and well balanced. Check on their schedule and kitchen hygiene.
Are they cooking food on the premises or outsourcing? Is food from a child’s home allowed? Whether the pantry area is clean and so are the feeding utensils.
7. Count of children
According to the space and size of daycare, one must check whether the daycare is overcrowded. We should check that there is enough staff of teachers and nannies to be able to cater to all children and their needs, along with a say coordinator who would supervise them all and do regularly required checks.
Please note if the daycare is overcrowded, your child is at high risk of catching any infections or he might not get the required attention which might lead to behavioral issues in your child later. So, be wise in choosing what is right and safe for your child.
Ideally, daycares should have different rooms for different aged children as their needs differ and degree of precautions too. Also, older children might bully or harm younger ones. So, better to keep them separately based on their age groups. This shall also help children of the same age group to study or perform any activity together.
8. Well Trained Staff
Each daycare should have staff comprising of teachers, nannies, drivers, and they should also onboard some extra staff so that the leaves of other staff are adjusted, and quality of care is not compromised.
All the staff should be well trained and skilled to perform their duties. They should have some minimum qualifications and experience before they are appointed.
Also, the staff should be friendly, motivated, and approachable.
9. Timetable & Activity Schedule
Daycares should not be only the place where your child is given food and shelter in your absence. Perhaps, it should be an activity center to keep your child engaged in the best available indoor and outdoor activities. Do check what daycares are offering to your child in terms of extra co-curricular activities.
Do they have a small play area or playground, do they have a teacher who could teach art and craft or a coach who could train them in martial arts?
You can also check their time table, which means what time do they usually keep for children to sleep or finish their homework as, by the time they would reach back home, it might be late.
So, are teachers available to help and guide them in their academics for older children?
Daycare well equipped to provide these additional services shall ensure that your child is happily engaged and do not miss you much while you are away.
10. Proximity of daycare to your home
It is always a good idea to have a daycare near your home or office. This shall help you to pick and drop your child on the way to your work. Also, in case of any emergency, you could always reach on time to be there for your child. This shall save your time to spend in traffic and will enable you to spend some more time with your child.
11. Management and stakeholders
We should check the owners and trustees of the daycare. Apart from knowing their years of service, we should know the degree of professionalism they follow and the escalation matrix. For example, how flexible they are to address and implement any concern raised by the parents? How strict they are if they found any staff misbehaving with children and not following the said protocols or in case of sexual abuse?
What measures they are taking to provide the best and unbiased care to each of the children? CCTV reviews and regular audits are the keys to ensure that the rules are followed, and protocols are maintained. Also, staff should understand any abuse or malpractice can lead to their termination of employment, etc.
Also, how do they handle emergencies such as stroke or sudden shutting of daycare under unforeseen circumstances, etc?
12. Regular checkup camps and collaborations
Daycares should have tie-ups with some hospitals and doctors. They can conduct some basic health check camps, dental checkups/care at their setup and even could invite parents for any seminars such as on nutrition, or healthy lifestyle, etc.
They can also plan some field visits may be to a vegetable shop or a bank or police station etc. to give children real-time experiences.
13. Core Values
Parents must be aware of the basic principles and rules daycare follows. The core of any daycare should be lots of love and warmth. While the discipline is needed, a child should not feel caged and eventually make parents feel guilty.
Core values should include- love, respect for individual, care, warmth, and sensitivity. Children should feel happy and motivated to go there every day and should welcome their parents when they see them back in the evening.
It should be their home away from home.
14. Parent’s Interaction
Last but not the least, parents should be called once a month to check on the progress of the child in terms of behavior or to suggest any improvements in case any behavioral issues observed, as the child is spending more time in daycare, teachers must share their good and bad experiences with respective parents. They can tell parents about any good art forms they have picked up or any further recommendations etc.
Would like to summarize by saying that do good research and view all aspects before making the decision. Below is the quote I found apt on the principal of how daycares should operate.
If kids come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.”
— Barbara Colors
Happy Parenting! Do let us know in the comments, your experience, and suggestions about daycare.
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