Deciding which Cambridge daycare center your child will go to usually require you to ask a lot of question and be observant on each and every daycare. The finest Cambridge daycare centers fill up fast that is why you should considering search for the best one as early as six months before you are going to put your child in a daycare.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC has only accredited 7,000 centers, therefore, you will have to assess first on what your considerations are and then choose among your options. Most, if not all, moms will have the location as their topmost concern. They will always look for a Cambridge daycare within walking distance from their job or their house.
Qualities of a good Cambridge Daycare center
Aside from the location, the following is a list of attributes that can be used as a reference of what to look for in a daycare center.
- Has a good and trusted reputation
A great daycare center should have a cozy and welcoming atmosphere and also be commended of its environment. You could inquire the daycare center for existing customers’ names and numbers and call them for references, or you could also drop by during pick-up time and have a quick chat with some other parents on what they think about the daycare. Be conscious about your first impression, as well: it matters a lot in this case.
Tip: You will know a lot about the Cambridge daycare center if your mom friends or other parents love the center and talk a lot of good things about it. It is most likely that you will also love the school.
- Has an established set of rules
Although it is necessary for a daycare center to be adaptive at times – for example, permitting you to pick up or drop off your child at varying times – but it should also have established set of rules for everything such as their operating hours or on how they deal with emergencies. The daycare center should be able to provide you with a copy of its policies in writing. So you will know that it is really taking its responsibility seriously – that is taking good care of your child.
In addition, search for a Cambridge daycare center who follows sick-child policy. Know what type of illnesses will need your child to stay at home and how long. A strict sick-child policy may inconvenience you if your kid is sick, but in the end it will benefit all the other children and the staff as well in keeping sick children away from the daycare. A good daycare center helps in cutting down on illness by ensuring that all the children and staff of the daycare have complete vaccinations and undergo regular checkups.
If a daycare center does not have an open-door policy and does not allow parents to go the center unannounced, there is a possibility that they have something to hide. Continue to look for another one. An excellent Cambridge daycare center will not just allow you in and be part of the community, but it will also let you encourage you to help with activities such as accompanying the kids on field trips, etc.
Therefore, if the daycare center has loose or has a nonexistent rules and regulations – thus, it is poorly organized – then definitely it is not the right center for you and your child.
- Has a curriculum that stimulates learning
A great daycare center should have an organized timetable or schedules that should include lots of physical activity time, down time (such as daily group and individual reading time), group schedules, individual programs, meals, snacks, and leisure time.
As much as possible, there should be no TV or video-watching all throughout the day in a daycare center. However, if videos play a part in the curriculum, the daycare center must ensure that these are age-appropriate and educational (such as documentary about animals, way of life, etc.). A curriculum that is well-considered and thoroughly thought-out will stimulate the development of the child and makes everyday life more enjoyable.
It is best to find a Cambridge daycare center that has a wide variety of age-appropriate toys to promote the development of your child thus stimulating creativity and become more socially interactive as he or she gets older.
- Should have qualified and competent staff
An advantage of putting your child in the right daycare center is that they have qualified and highly skill staff – a great advantage over hiring babysitters or nannies. Daycare center staff should have at least studied two years in college, should be knowledgeable in early childhood development (many states do not require this, though), knows CPR and have undergone other emergency trainings.
Be aware on how the staff interacts and deals with the children. Care providers must be responsible, passionate, and very well prepared. Look for a daycare staff who has the same viewpoints as you when it comes to discipline, sleeping, feeding, and all other related care issues. Great caregivers will ask you thorough inquiries as to the health and care of your child to ascertain that the daycare center is suitable for you and your child. Make absolutely sure that the daycare center has more than enough staff to provide the appropriate care and attention that your child needs. Based on the size of the group, the ratio of care providers to children will also vary.
Keep in mind that daycare centers are not needed to follow the recommendations of NAEYC, so it would be better if you will ask what would be the ratio for the staff to children of each center and then decide whether it is all right for you. A good daycare center, regardless of how many staff they have, usually keep the group small to promote social interaction and development, no matter how many staff they have.
Look for a Cambridge daycare center that offers extremely good benefits for their staff. For instance, the daycare that compensates their staff well and give them leave credits, health insurance, and an academic stipend are much more likely to have staff that stick around. Minimal turnover is crucial to your child’s consistent, and stable care.
- Should encourage healthy eating habits
Know the daycare center’s rules about food if there is a need for you to pack your own child’s food. The center should only allow you to pack nutritious foods and avoid letting a child bring junk foods and soda. Daycare centers that allows bringing in unhealthy foods might not really have the best interest of your child at heart.
- Should have clean and safe facilities
A clean and sanitary daycare center is a good one. The floors, pathways, ceiling, walls and kitchen area should be clean and tidy. The place for food preparation be far from bathrooms and nappy changing areas. The garbage bin should not be left unemptied. The building should be warm and cozy, well lit and is ventilated appropriately. In addition, the staff should be frequently washing their hands – especially after a diaper change!
Ensure that the Cambridge daycare center adheres to the essential health and safety regulations. All the toys and play materials must be in excellent condition, screens or window bars should be installed if there is are windows upstairs, all medications and all other dangerous materials should be out of reach of the children, bed linen should be freshly washed and firm – this is to prevent SIDS for babies – and the area for outdoor play must be in a flat level to be safe and secure.
The daycare center should have smoke detectors in place and should be functional, air conditioning units and heaters should be covered or somehow shielded, a first aid kit as well as fire extinguishers should be freely accessible and all the other usual child-proofing methods (enclosed outlets, safety doors or gates, door bars, etc.) must be used.
It would be best if you find a Cambridge daycare center with an outdoor play area. The kids ought to have the opportunity to go and play outside every day – running around, jumping up and down, and skipping are physically, mentally, and socially good for them. However, if you are living the city, where having a spacious outdoor area is not common, you may look instead for a daycare center that has a big and spacious indoor play area.
- Should have a license to run a daycare center
You could ask the Cambridge daycare center to show you their business license and professional credentials. Afterwards, you could double check it by calling the social services department. If applicable, look for a daycare center that has passed NAEYC’s strict and rigorous accreditation process – a barometer for the quality of service the center can provide.
A daycare center must also comply with national health and security licensing laws. Moreover, a present license is not really an assurance that quality care will be provided — that is the reason why you have to properly assess the care providers themselves, especially in places which do not need licenses to run a daycare