If you have a child who you will soon be enrolling in child care, then it's a good idea to visit some childcare centers in-person to see what you think and where your child might be most comfortable. These tours are usually very informative, but you'll learn even more if you ask the tour guide or administrator a few questions while you are there. Here are a few of the top questions to ask.
Does the childcare center take an educational or an entertainment-based approach?
Some childcare centers basically supervise the children, keep them safe, make sure they are fed, and provide entertainment throughout the day. Others take a more educational approach and are more like informal preschools. Either approach is fine, but you should carefully think about which option is best for your child. If you do a lot of educational activities with your child at home and prefer to teach them yourself, then an entertainment-based childcare center may be ideal. On the other hand, if you don't have a lot of experience with education and think your child could use some formal educational preparation before they start school, a childcare center with an educational approach is probably best.
Do the kids spend time outside?
If the childcare center has a large playground, some fields, or even some walking paths, the kids will probably spend more time outside. This can be really fun and educational for most kids, although if your child has a lot of outdoor or seasonal allergies, you may want to look for a childcare center where the kids are mostly indoors.
Are the drop-off and pick-up times flexible?
If your schedule sometimes changes at work, you will want to know you can drop your child off earlier, pick them up a bit later, or make other changes to the schedule. Most childcare centers are pretty flexible with drop-off and pick-up times, but make sure that flexibility lines up with your own. For instance, if they only allow drop-off from 7 am - 10 am, but you sometimes start work at 6:45, that's not the best childcare center for you.
Do not be afraid to ask plenty of questions when touring a childcare center. This is how you really get a good idea of what a center has to offer you and your child. If you start with the questions above, you'll be off to a good start.