Daycare centers are a rising need of the day in Indian metros. But when it comes to sending your precious little one to a daycare center, sound judgment is more invaluable than blazing testimonials.
There are numerous daycare centers today, screaming for attention with fancy brand names. Don’t fall prey to brand equity though. Look out for the ten most important things that a good daycare center should have, before you make this crucial decision.
1. Central location
Ideally a good daycare should be centrally located. It should have an easy access by road. If this is not possible, try to locate a good daycare center in your area that is in close proximity to your home or office, whichever you prefer. If you’re a working parent and prefer to be close at hand for your child, a daycare near your office may be more suitable.
Ensure that any daycare you choose is duly accredited according to the state or country standards for daycare. This will give you an assurance of high quality care for your children.
3. Qualified personnel
Personnel are very important to the quality of an early learning center. Take the time to check that the center where you wish to send your child has qualified and competent personnel.
Attitude is important too. Pay attention to how the caregivers behave around you and the rest of the kids. You do not want an authoritarian caretaker who will bully your child. A completely meek caretaker is just as undesirable.
You might prefer that the caretaker has a gentle, yet firm, sense of authority. Find out what is the adult to child ratio. It should optimally be one adult for five to eight kids.
4. Doctor on call
Is there a qualified pediatrician or a nurse on call in case of an emergency? This may not seem important at first, but when your child is not with you, wouldn’t you prefer it if you knew that there’s a competent physician on hand should the need ever arise?
5. Open space
Children need an open space to foster their creativity. They need to run around and play. Cramped quarters hamper their growth. A good daycare center pays heed to this point and has at least a small open garden area where kids can play freely. They should also have a safe area for sleeping, if the kids are tired.
6. Non-toxic toys
Most daycare centers have a lot of toys with them. Some even have a toy library. Ask if the toys are non-toxic? Most small children have a habit of putting things in their mouth. You do not want anything that has harmful chemicals going into a child’s mouth.
Are the toys age-appropriate? Do they have small detachable pieces? This is not such a problem with older kids. Younger kids, on the other hand, are at the risk of choking and asphyxiation if they ingest these pieces.
7. Basic kitchen
Some daycare centers serve food on-site. Others do not. Ensure that they have at least a basic and hygienic kitchen, where they can heat the food you’ve sent with your kids.
If they’re serving the kids their own food, is it healthy, nutritious and clean? You do not want packaged or refined foods finding their way into your children’s tummies.
8. Hygiene and sanitation
The surroundings need not be completely sterile. Lets face it – even our homes are never completely free of bacteria. But grossly unhygienic conditions are a complete no-no.
A good daycare will not only keep their place clean and dirt free, they will also teach the kids everyday hygiene, such as washing hands before meals. Kids pick up on things easily, given half a chance.
9. Fun activities
You do not want your kids to get bored when in the daycare center. Children tire of anything quite easily. Do they have activities designed to keep them stimulated? Water play and sand play are fun activities for most kids.
Supervised activities with clay are also wonderful for the kids. They love to make different shapes with clay. Interesting activities are fun for the kids, and do not stress them out when they are away from you.
10. Positive atmosphere
All in all, the atmosphere of the daycare center should be infused with positivity. If you were a stay-at-home parent, wouldn’t you provide the same for your child? Why should your daycare be any different?
Good daycare centers are like a second home for your kids. Your children deserve all the tender loving care they can get. A good daycare center knows this, and does everything possible to provide a safe haven for your child.
© Gauri Kekre
Dr. Gauri Kekre is a dental surgeon, freelance writer and mother to a beautiful two-year-old daughter. She has been practicing in Mumbai since the last six years. Writing is her passion and she loves to research everyday problems and find uniquely different and creative solutions to each. Visit her blog at http://www.drgaurikekre.com
This article may be reprinted with the complete author bio and a live link back to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
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