How to Choose the Right Day Care

If you and your spouse both have to work, then you probably have concerns about your children similar to the following:

(1) What are we going to do about the kids, if I have to go to work?
(2) Since there is so much talk about neglect and abuse, how will we know if we have the right child care provider or center?
(3) Day care is so expensive. Is it really worth me going to work?
(4) How about hiring a nanny to take care of the children for a few hours while I work at home?
(5) Do I work part-time or full-time?

These are questions and concerns that so many parents have who want the best care for their children. Choosing the right day care for your children is very important. Because of your love and concern for your children, you should consider all of the different possibilities of child care. However, most people are concerned about two questions:

(1) How much do you charge?
(2) Where do you live?

These two questions are important, but so is the kind of care your children will receive during the day while you are at work. During the time I was a day care provider, parents often neglected to ask what kind of activities the children did during the day. Nothing else seemed to matter if the cost or distance did not meet their needs.

People wanted the closest place to them and the cheapest. I wondered why people did not show more concern for their children.

Choosing the right day care is important for your children and for your peace of mind. If you cannot work and have a peace inside that your children are all right and being cared for by the person you feel comfortable with the most, then you need to find someone else. You cannot work and worry about your children and the care they are receiving.

There are three main types of day care facilities which you can decide between:

(1) The large day care center, which is in a building by itself, or it can be in a church.

(2) The family day care home, which is in the provider’s home.

(3) A Nanny, who is someone who comes to your home when you are working away from home or when you have a
home-based business.


In the large day care center, they usually have three or four teachers who have their own classes with around twenty children in each class. Teachers have children who are near the same age in each of their classes.

There is a Director and sometimes an Assistant Director over the whole center. Depending on how large the center is, someone may be hired to cook the meals. Day care centers usually take infants through school age children. Preschool centers take preschoolers who are potty-trained, and if they have an after school program, they will have school age children enrolled in their center.

The classrooms could have a number of changes in staff. They may not have a teacher who would be permanent. Because of such a change over in teachers, this could cause insecurities in children. Also, you would not have any idea who would be there when you brought your children.

In this kind of center, the children are harder to control because of having so many in a class. Also, it is harder to give individual attention. However, in the large center, the children will have other children their own age to play with. They will also learn from each other.

I have worked in preschool centers and day care centers. When I worked in a preschool center, I taught children who were two-years-old. I had approximately 14 children in my classroom. They were a lot of fun. I brought my guitar and taught them songs, and taught them pre-academics so they would be prepared for school. At that center, I also answered the phone, greeted the parents, and made the snacks for the classes. I kept quite busy, but I enjoyed the work.

Also, I have done volunteer work in that kind of center. Day Care Centers are similar. They allow infants. I volunteered and received pay in caring for infants in this kind of center.


The family day care home is where a provider has opened up her home to care for other people’s children. This kind of facility usually has six preschoolers or less, depending on how many infants the provider has, and they may have school age children.

This type of setting is more of a family situation, which is important for the children since they are not at home during the day. Because the day care home usually has six preschoolers or less, the provider can give the children more individual attention.
There is usually one provider. However, when the provider cannot be there on a specific day, then she has a substitute stay in her house and care for the children.

The provider is the one who does the cooking and can involve the older children in simple cooking projects as well as other things like setting the table, cleaning it off after meals, drying dishes, and putting them away. These are simple ways that children can learn responsibility as well as learn to listen and follow instructions.

In a home day care, children can learn from the provider things to do in their own home to help their parents. There is also more freedom to go on field trips because there are fewer children.

The ages may vary in this type of facility because of the limited number of children in a home, but it is good for the children to learn to get along with each other at any age, since there are different ages at home, too.

In my day care home, I had infants through school age. I transported the children to and from school. When I did, I took the younger ones with me or my mother stayed with them. Sometimes, she would take the children to school. Also, I taught my preschoolers things that would prepare them for school.

One four-year-old I had learned how to count from 1 to 100 and by tens to 100 before he entered school. I enjoyed teaching the children and watching them learn. Sometimes, it was hard because I had children who seemed like they did not want to learn. I taught my preschoolers to help me around the house by helping with the dishes, and other responsibilities. Most of the parents were pleased because they said their children wanted to help them when they got home. However, you always have some parents who are against children helping with the housework. Children need to learn how to do things and learn some responsibilities, and they want to help out. My preschoolers enjoyed helping me.


Hiring a nanny means that you have hired an adult to come to your home and care for your children during the day while you are working. If you are among the ones who have a home-based business, you probably need a nanny to care for your children while you are working. It is hard to care for your children properly while you are working.

I worked as a nanny and really enjoyed that type of work. I had both types of nanny positions. I worked as a nanny when the parents both worked away from home, and I worked when the mothers were working at home or needed extra help with their children.


Interviews are very important because it is a time when you, your children, and the provider can be together and get acquainted.

During the interview, you need to ask several questions so you can find out the care giver’s policy on each of the following items: Pre-academics, nutrition, medication, nap time, discipline, play time, field trips, and transportation to and from school.


The most important question for you to consider is: What kind of curriculum does the day care have? Some people who care for children are just babysitters. They care for children, but the children are allowed to do whatever they want to, which is playing or watching television all day. This is over-indulgence. The provider does not have any kind of teaching curriculum for them.

This is all right if this is all that parents want, but I believe preschoolers need to be in a place where they can be taught such things as: numbers, letters, colors, shapes, auditory skills, visual skills, language skills, social skills, motor skills, and other pre-academic skills so they will be prepared for kindergarten. They also need to have some play time and rest time throughout the day.

Children need to have a set schedule in the summer as well as during the school year. Teaching preschoolers is rewarding. However, it can be very frustrating when children do not have the desire to learn when you are trying to teach them. That’s the time you have to try and make things enjoyable for the children so they will be encouraged to learn.


You also need to find out about nutrition. If you have infants, then it is important for you to find out who will provide the formula and baby food (I always did) and when the baby will be fed. Also, find out if the provider will hold the small infants while feeding the baby or if the bottles are propped up.

Day care centers and day care homes are required to have menus posted, so you need to find out what kinds of meals they will be serving. What children are fed is very important because they need to grow and develop nutritionally and physically as well as emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

It is important to make sure your children are going to be given a well-balanced meal using the basic food groups and how much food they will be given. Some places do not allow seconds. Children need to have as much as they want because of their growing spurts.

I made sure that I gave my children as much as they wanted, and I served them food from the basic food groups: Dairy, Meat, Vegetables, Fruit, and Bread.


Another important question is concerning medication. You need to ask if the providers will give medication. Providers need to keep a record of the medication they give each child. You need to know when the medication was given, what was given, and how much was given so that you will know when and what to give your children when you get home. Medication should be locked up and out of reach.

It is important for you to make sure your children are receiving their medication. When I was a day care provider, a parent told me that their child did not receive their medicine for his ear infection like he should and as a result he kept having ear infections. When his parents enrolled him in my day care, I gave him his medication and his ear infections cleared up.

Doctors would not give children medication if they did not want them to take it. Make sure that whoever you go to for child care will give your children their medicine when it should be given and the correct amount.

Nap Time

Infants and preschoolers need to take naps during the day so they will not be cranky when their parents come to pick them up. They need at least two hours for naps or a rest period. Right after lunch is the best time for them to take naps. You also need to find out when and where the children will take their naps.

I had individual mats, with washable covers, for the children to take their naps. Later on, I was given some cots for them. My school age children had to have a quiet time when they were out of school for a whole day.


You need to find out what kind of discipline is used. Time out is one of the best discipline procedures. Also, positive and negative reinforcers are great. Discipline should be given to correct any misbehavior, so that the children will grow up in the best way possible.

I used time out and positive and negative reinforcers. If they did what I wanted them to do, then I rewarded them. If they disobeyed, then I did not reward them. Most of the time, they did what I wanted them to do.

Play Time

Play time is very important in children’s lives because it gives them time to relax and exercise during the day. Every child needs time by themselves or to play with other children and not be involved in a scheduled activity.

I made sure that the children played outside part of the day and had some free time to play inside. When they played by themselves, it gave me a break. However, when they were playing, I did keep an eye on them as much as possible so that I could make sure they played together and shared their toys.

Field Trips

Field trips are also important in children’s lives because they can go different places and see what other people do during the day and how different places are run such as: restaurants, museums, zoos, etc. Children need to learn about different occupations, so they can see what interests them the most.

My day care children enjoyed going shopping, to the park for a picnic, to the zoo, or tour different places. I had a lot of compliments on how well my children behaved in the stores. I made them stay with me and hold on to the cart or walk close beside me. I did not want to take a chance on them getting lost or kidnapped.


Some providers do offer transportation to and from school. You need to find out if they do, and what their policy is regarding infants, if you have infants. Make sure car seats are available for each baby and each child will have a seat belt.

I always made sure that infants were in car seats, and that preschoolers were in seat belts. I had a station wagon to transport the children to and from school or on field trips. The school age children were allowed to sit in the back of my car without seat belts. We had a lot of fun going on field trips.

Like I already mentioned, choosing the right day care is very important for your children and for your peace of mind. You need to work without worrying about your children. Consider all of your possibilities before you make a definite decision. Think more about your children than how close the day care is or the cost of the day care.

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