Thinking about daycare? Tips on what to look out for - Part II
This is the continuation of "Thinking about daycare? Tips on what to look out for - I".
With the spate of kidnappings and abductions we have had in the country in recent times, we can't ignore safety. In the daycare I talked about in Part I(where my friend and I went to pick up a 15-month old baby), we had walked all the way through the gate into the facility, went up the stairs to where the kids were kept before we saw anyone to speak to. All the while we were walking, no one stopped us to question us or ask where we were headed. Although we couldn't reach any of the kids until we met someone, the fact that we had such free access into the facility was a bit worrisome. And while we are still on security,:
- Check to ensure that there is a process for identifying or confirming the identity of adults that come to pick up kids each day, especially for those random nannies and drivers that connive to abduct kids;
- Be sure to check that the place is constantly under security watch, and there are appropriate limits where kids are not allowed to go beyond.
- I know we (Nigerians) are not the best when it comes to responding to emergencies, but you want to try to understand that the daycare has factored this in. Fortunately we don't have frequent natural disasters as in common in some places, so one of the major emergencies we probably have to deal with is fire (the epileptic electricity situation doesn't help). It won't be too much of a bother to check that there are fire or smoke alarms around for instance. If the kids have to be evacuated, are there well laid out plans for how to do this?
- What if there is a situation that needs first aid attention, is there a first aid kit at least and are the caregivers trained to give basic first aid to children if need be?
- Play facilities: I'm basing this on the assumption that the babies we bring become toddlers and then kids, and that the daycare has a junior school or nursery, or that you're considering daycare for an older baby. It'd be good to have an outdoor program or playground. I was speaking with a crèche owner and she advised this as one of the things to watch out for. Outdoor space and playground are necessities. Kids need to go out and dissipate their energy. If this doesn’t happen, they get cranky and the caregivers get frustrated. Outdoor activity helps their nap time as well. Some caregivers, unable to frequently deal with cranky children resort to giving them sleeping medication. What are the play facilities like for the kids? How well kept do they look? Damaged? Potentially unsafe?
- This is a random one. Are there flowers growing around the facility, are they child-safe?
- Curriculum: If your child is over 18 months, it’d be good to ask what the curriculum activities are. What happens a lot of times is that, like actual schools, we tend to let our babies grow through the daycare. That means for facilities that have nursery and a school, babies 'graduate' through the ranks. You might want to know what the curriculum is. I know it's just preschool, sometimes, if it has a junior school, you just may consider letting your baby start off there while trying to get a different school for them.
- What are the opening and closing hours for the daycare so you can factor that into your plans. If you usually have long working hours, you might need to make arrangements to keep your baby slightly beyond closing hours. Are they open on public holidays or have plans for it (i.e for jobs that require you working during the holidays) and do they close at the end of the year?
It amuses me when I visit my mentor's daycare/junior school, and see the kids crying when their parents come to pick them 'cause they don't want to leave, and I hear they never cry when they're being dropped off in the morning.
That brings us to the end of this topic. Bottom line is, ask as many questions as possible until you are satisfied. Remember, you are bringing your child here, so do not feel uncomfortable or worried about asking lots of questions.
For those of us who already have kids in daycares, are there any tips you can give us, or things that have been helpful to you in the past?
Please share with us.
The Baby Analyst.
Not a doctor, just a financial analyst who loves kids