When it comes to choosing a daycare for your child, you can never be too picky. First, you should consider your priorities. Do you want convenience? Would you prefer that your child be cared for in a small or a large group? Is intellectual or creative stimulation high on your list?
There are three basic types of daycare: daycare centers, home daycares, and nannies. A center has several positive aspects. The rules are clear-cut: there are established drop off and pickup times and hours. Centers are generally reliable and stable, and are less expensive than private home care or nannies.
The staff at centers are usually trained in early childhood education, and there are planned activities to stimulate your child both intellectually and creatively. There is also generally a larger group of children for your child to interact with, allowing for more socialization. A drawback of these centers is that, because there are more children, the risk of illness is greater. They are notorious for the amount of illnesses that are circulated throughout the population. Ratios of teachers to children tend to be fairly high, but these are regulated by local licensing agencies.
Some parents are attracted to the smaller, homier setting of a private home daycare. These are usually run by stay-at-home moms in their own homes. They provide an environment with smaller groups and perhaps more flexibility in drop off and pickup hours. The price may be more negotiable than a large center, but parents may sometimes have to accommodate the providers’ own illnesses and vacations and seek backup daycare.
Nannies are a good option for parents who want their child to have more focused childcare. A nanny cares for children in the child's own home. This option is often more expensive, and backup childcare may be necessary if the nanny takes a vacation or gets sick. Also, because there are no other childcare workers to supervise the nanny, a parent must be able to trust him or her implicitly.
Once you have decided what kind of daycare suits you needs best, looking for a provider will be an involved process. When searching for a center or a home daycare, first identify your priorities. Next, research the provider by asking around or using your local or national childcare resources. Visit or interview the potential provider and find out what their childcare philosophy is, the environment, and the teacher to child ratio if it is a center.
Most importantly, with any type of daycare provider, check references. Next, kid-test it by doing a trial run and gauge your child’s response. If your child is unhappy, you will more than likely have to repeat the whole process over again. It's extremely important to choose carefully, since this it is the place where your child is likely to spend the most time away from you.