Before you begin your search and think through questions to ask daycare centers, start by asking yourself some key questions:
- What type of environment do I want my child in, potentially over the next several years? Do I see my child in a smaller daycare or a larger facility?
- Do I see my child at a center getting exposed to multiple educators or just one or two?
- What is my top priority that must be met: environment, cost, quality of education, location or something else?
- What is my weekly and monthly budget? And what should be included in that budget?
- Do I want my child’s school to be near my home or my work?
- How many days a week will my child be at this center?
Make sure to give yourself several weeks or months to find the right center for your family, to avoid feeling rushed or encounter limited availability, particularly during Fall enrollment, which can begin as early as spring.
Once you have these beginning questions identified, it’s time to do your research. We encourage you to ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers who they recommend. Search online for daycares, preschools or other early learning programs near you. Don’t forget to read online reviews and take a virtual tour.
We recommend you identify at least two or three early learning environments you’re interested in so you have the opportunity to compare different atmospheres. Then, contact the centers you’re interested in via an online form or phone, and schedule your tour. You’ll want to make sure you tour while daytime activities are going on at the school, so you can see how students interact with staff and so you can see what activities take place. Take your child along with you to see how he reacts to the environment.
Preparing for Your Visit
Before you begin your visits, you should prepare your list of questions to adequately compare the centers. Is there anything that’s answered on the center’s website? Or do you need clarification on something you read online? We also recommend asking other parents what they wanted to know. Make sure you think beyond your child’s current age. We encourage you to ask questions regarding preschool and before & after school curriculum, social-emotional learning, fitness programs and more that lead to kindergarten preparedness.
For more in-depth questions specific to your child’s age, download a daycare questionnaire for parents below to take notes on for each of your tours.