If you’re considering childcare options at the moment, it’s important to make sure that any potential providers are on the same wavelength as you. Ideally you will visit the setting at least twice before making your final choice. Seeing the provider ‘at work’ and observing how they interact with the children in their care is absolutely vital. In addition to this, a meeting arranged at a quiet time, perhaps after the children have gone home, will allow you time to talk and make sure that you get a chance to ask your questions without feeling rushed.
Preparing your list of questions in advance is vital. Write them down and take them with you to the meeting. If you run out of time to ask them all, ask the provider if you can send the rest over to them via email. Don’t feel embarrassed if your list is long, you are entrusting your most precious ‘possession’ in this person’s care!
Q: What are your beliefs surrounding ‘naughty behaviour’ in children?
Q: What would you do if my child hurt another child in your care?
Q: What would you do if another child in your care hurt my child?
Q: What would you do if my child didn’t listen to your request to do something?
Q: How would you help my child to feel happy and secure in your presence?
Q: What would you suggest is a good ‘settling in’ plan?
Q: What would you do if my child was still upset to leave me after this settling in work?
Q: My child is breastfed/cuddled/rocked (delete as appropriate) to sleep for naps. How will you settle them?
Q: Do you have set nap times? Or are you happy to follow my child’s individual routine?
Q: Do you have set mealtimes? What if my child is hungry before the set eating times? What if my child is not hungry at a mealtime?
Q: What would you do if my child refused to eat the food that you offered to them?
Q: What are your views on screentime?
Q: What are your views on play? Do you have structured playtimes? Or will play be child directed (freeplay)?
Q: How much time do you spend outdoors? Can my child choose when to be indoors or outdoors?
Q: What would you do if my child was upset in your care?
Q: What would you do if my child was having a grumpy/uncooperative day?
Q: What are your views on praising children and rewarding them (with stickers etc.)?
Q: What are your views on potty training?
You can see some more points which parents agree are important to consider for daycare HERE.
Despite these questions, your instinct is undeniably the most important guide. How do you feel about the staff and their attitudes and approach? This is so much more important than the physical aspects of the setting – e.g: decor and provisions. Ask yourself “is my child going to feel nurtured here?”, “will my child’s time here be overwhelmingly positive?” and “do I have any niggles about this setting?”. These three questions are as important as any that you could ask a provider.
For more on selecting and using childcare, see my Gentle Parenting Book.