--posted by Pallavi (All Things Yummy)
Being a working mom, day care for my little one was/is always on my mind. I started thinking about it even before I had him. When I saw my friends around me going through various things, I always put myself in their position and thought.. what would I do.. ?!
#1:Some of them quit working altogether.. that wasn't an option for me due to GC processing blah blah..
#2. Some of them had visiting parents at any given time.. (lucky them !) Both my mom and m-i-l are working women too.. so they could only spend a few months away from India at most. So, that option was ruled-out too.
#3: Some sent their kids to India (well the plan was for about a few months initially, which ended up being a couple of years too in some cases !!) They are definitely very brave that they could do that! I could hardly imagine it...
#4: So, the only remaining option was to send my kid to a daycare here.. Either to an in-home babysitter or a traditional daycare center. And ever since I came to that conclusion, I started paying more attention to the group of friends who did that.. and their kids :)
Then R came into our lives and things started to unfold in reality.. Luckily my mom and mil took turns and stayed here until he was about 10 months old. So that worked out great esp. since I was working from home then too. I was always home with the baby and was working too. When he was about 8 months, I started investigating into what options I had then.
#1: To have a nanny who would visit and watch him (I was working from home then.. so that seemed like a great option)
#2. Enroll him at a traditional american day care facility
#3. Drop him off at a desi babysitter's place who would watch him along with couple of other kids.
I tried finding a nanny but there many issues with that and couldnt find anyone that fit.. so #1 was ruled out. Then, came the second option of the traditional daycare center. And from what I have observed and heard from my friends, the kids got sick too often at the daycare..And I was very worried about that.. So, I decided to go with option #3. Started talking to many babysitters in my area. I visited a couple of them and I picked the lady who seemed friendly and had a clean home. She was recommended by a friend and her daughter who is same age as R goes there too. So, I picked her. And started dropping off R there.
The first couple of weeks he was fine other than the stranger anxiety stuff and then came winter.. (bad timing !) And started a chain of ear-infections, colds, coughs, fever, antibiotics, loss of appetite, weight loss etc etc.. Its just too painful to even think about. Was tough on all of us. I am sure many of you know what I mean.. Eventually as the spring came along, he adjusted much better. I thought I will keep him here until he is 3 and then find a preschool.. I thought he would be older and may be not get sick that often. And for sometime everything was pretty nice.
About when he was 20 months old, R started talking a lot. And he started saying .. "aunty ..tv..on..Rishi sofa sit.. tv watch".. and he kept saying that..with the limited vocabulary he had..I realized he is spending most of his time watching TV.... I am not too fond of TV and think he is way too young for it now. It was about end of september last year when I really started to feel that he needs some place where he can spend his time doing other things that are more useful for him. But from the previous experience, I didnt want to move him to a new place in winter . So, decided to wait for warmer weather. But then I thought I could do my research as to whats available. Yes, I love research. I like to know whats out there before I make my pick.. :) So, I started looking not very actively but on and off whenever I could.
First went to the internet (like I always do with my research) pulled up a list of all the daycare/preschool facilites around where I live. Made a list of about 25-30. Yes, there are that many within 5 miles from our home!! And ordered them by the distance starting with the closest. Then started visiting each of the websites and called them and gathered all the information I could over the phone. Made an Excel Spreadsheet with the following columns for each one.
Name & Website & Phone Number
Distance from our home...and preferably on the way to work- the closer it is the better.
Are open atleast until 6:30PM (Both of us work quite far from home.. so anything earlier would be hard)
They have a good menu for our dietary needs or allow us to substitute on those days if we are not happy with the selection. (there were some that didnt allow anything from home due to the allergies issues)
What do they do during the day.. when do they play, eat, sleep, learn. What kind of teaching approach they follow.. independence oriented or more structured..
The lowest one was $120 per week and the highest $320 per week. Most were between $180 - $250 for this age group.
Have a bus facility to the public schools-not now but after a couple of years
8. Sick Policy, Holidays, Student:Teacher ratio, Potty Training & Age Group divisions.
Most seemed same for this age group so these became non-criteria now..
9.Other things they offer:
Some schools offered webcam. Some offered Dance, Soccer, Martial Arts etc, even gourmet food for parents, drycleaning and weeknights babysitting...
10.Reputation & References:
What I heard from my friends about them.
Once I had all of this information, I could eliminate a lot of them. From the past couple of weeks or so, I have been doing this much more actively. Now I am down to about 7 facilities. We will be touring them all. I will be checking for the following things :
1.Get in and get out.. how fast and easy it was.
3. Have a clean and well kept facility (How is the Kitchen if they have one)
4. If staff seem caring and experienced.
5. Good outdoor age-appropriate playgrounds for all age groups (R loves the park) - everyone will say yes to this on the phone :) but when you see you will know the good ones from the not-so-good ones.
6. They are quite diverse (with kids from all races/countries/languages etc.. ) Thats very important in this day and age. I believe that children need to learn to appreciate everyone alike and its important to inculcate that unbiased nature from childhood.
7.How the rooms are setup, Art work and other things posted on the bulletin boards, what the kids are doing while we are there.
8. The daily reports and Menu for the month and activities, themes etc.,
9. I definitely like to check out the infants/early toddlers room to see how they are being comforted..
We are touring the facilities now.. have 3 more left.. will post results after that pretty soon. Do share your views.. Would love to hear what you think..