When the time came to find a daycare provider, the wife and I approached the process with a mix of excitement and trepidation. We were both relieved to return to (relatively) normal lives, but weren't exactly thrilled with the idea of handing our children off to a bunch of strangers. We kept five key things in mind that made our choice fairly painless.
Teacher-Child Ratio. If a daycare didn't have a sufficient teacher-to-child ratio, we didn't even consider it. And as a general rule, the younger kids are, the more staff that's needed. Put simply, an adequate number of teachers means better child care and overall safety.
Location. We were counting on our children being well cared for, but if one became sick or there was an accident, we wanted a daycare that was an equal distance between work and home. There's nothing worse than a long, worry-filled trip when a little one needs you.
Cleanliness. Daycares can be a breeding ground for illness if germs are allowed to accumulate.
Hours. For obvious reasons, we only looked at daycares whose operating hours conformed to our work schedules. It was also important for us not to get slapped with a fee or penalty in the rare event we were late while picking our children up.
Fun! Above all, we wanted to ensure our boys weren't bored silly. So we chose a daycare with an abundance of fenced-off play areas and well-maintained toys. We also asked many questions about the school's curriculum and whether it had accredited teachers, since being challenged intellectually is just as important.
Donald S. Deane is the proud papa of three little boys who provide endless amounts of joy and sleep deprivation. He has held a variety of jobs, including college English teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, internet project manager, dishwasher and dogcatcher. Don has written for AOL TV, Moviefone, TheFW, ScreenCrush, GuySpeed, and Arcade Sushi, among others.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.