Your child is going to school for the first time. What an emotional time this is! There is so much on your mind. How he or she will adapt? How he or she will be treated? Will he or she eat or drink enough? All these questions can be summed up in one: How do I find the right preschool or child care for my child?

What kind of child care is there available?

Home-based care:

Listed family homes: People who must list with the Gardening division are those who are compensated to provide regular child care (at least four hours per day, three or more days a week, for more than nine consecutive weeks) in their own homes for 1-3 unrelated children.

Registered Child Care Homes: Registered Child Care Homes provide care in the caregiver’s home for up to six children under age 14; they may also take in up to six more school-age children. The number of children allowed in a home is determined by the ages of the children. No more than 12 children can be in care at any time, including children of the caregiver.

Licensed Child Care Homes: Provide care for less than 24 hours per day for 7-12 children underr 14 years old. All types of licensed facilities have published standards they are required to follow and are routinely monitored and inspected.

Licensed Child Care Centers & preschools: are any operation that cares for 13 or more children under 14 years old for less than 24 hours.

Do not make the mistake to choose a facility based on proximity or cost alone. The closest school to your home might not necessarily be the right choice for your child. Also, keep in mind that the highest cost doesn’t always guarantee the best teacher and facility. Likewise, the least expensive rates do not necessarily mean poor teachers and facilities.

Since I’m a former preschool teacher, I thought I knew exactly what to look for when I had to make this decision, and even for me it was a little tricky. I visited a few preschools that were the closest to my home with the hopes of finding the right one for my son among those. I decided to try one that presented itself very attractive, even though I was a little uneasy about this one school: It was so close to home and it look so good as far as appearance goes, that I decided to give it a chance. To make a long story short, I was right about “my gut feeling” I had about this school. My son only lasted there two weeks, and he was miserably unhappy for the whole time.

And that is why I think “your gut feeling” is so important, and the first thing I would recommend when looking for the right school for your child is to pay attention to your instincts.

You know your child best. Pay attention to any feelings of uneasiness you may have experienced during site visits or interviews. Could you picture your child in this setting? Were the toys and activities you observed the kinds your child would enjoy?

You can tell a great deal by observing and listening to what is going on in the classroom. Did the children seem happy and were they enjoying activities? Did the teachers seem to be loving, nurturing and responsive to all children in their care? Were problems handled promptly and appropriately? Did the teacher seem like the kind of people you can trust with the health, happiness and well being of your child? Is this a place where you would feel good about your child spending many hours each day?


How to Find the Right Child Care Setting Or Preschool For Your Child