Are you the mother or father of a little child and you have decided to put in a nursery? It doesn’t matter why you made that decission whether it is because of your financial or family situation or whether you just feel like returnig to work even if only part-time. In any case you want the best for your baby and we are bringing you some tips how to choose the best preschool centre.
What is this preschool center – who is the care provider and what rules apply to this type of facility?
In different European countries there are different possibilities for childcare, however as a rule there are private and public facilities, facilities run by municipalities, NGOs, companies etc. In every country there is a set of rules which these facilities have to follow. The rules differ from country to country and cover among others the staff-to-child ratio, hygienic and safety rules, alimentation rules, education plans, requirements for staff qualifications and others. You should learn these rules and ask about them in the facility you have chosen for your child. Following these rules will also influence the actual costs of the childcare – don’t be surprised that facilities with 1 teacher/6 children are more expensive than facilities with 1 teacher/28 children.
Trust your sixth sense
You are a mom or dad and you know your child. You should not follow appealing and expensive ads, but your own sixth sense. The first time you enter the nursery, you have to feel that it is the good choice for your child. Take a good look at the premises, talk to the babysitters or another mom in the dressing room. You have to feel confident when choosing this facility because when you are not, the child will feel not good at the facility, either.
Am I a bad mother?
In some countries (like in the Czech Republic) there is a heated discussion about whether a child under 3 years of age should be in the nursery or not. In other countries there really is not another option. If there is an option for you to stay home but you still decide to make use of a childcare centre, it doesn’t mean you are a bad mum. As a parent you know what is best for your child. Do not underestimate the adaptation phase, which must be gradual and nonviolent. Only after you are sure that the child is able to manage on his/her own, the stay can be extended for several days. However, the adaptation process of the child is just as important as the adaptation of the parent. If you are not convinced that he or she is well cared for, the adaptation is demanding for the whole family. So if you decide to put your child in a childcare facility, clarify things first in your head. Happy parent = happy child.
Carefully read all documents
Upon your arrival, you will receive documents that must be archived by the children facility. There should be a plan of education and/or care, some operating rules and a probably you have to close a contract for provision of childcare services. Please carefully read these documents, especially the contract where you can find clearly defined conditions. If you do not agree with some of the provisions, let it go.
Don’t be afraid to ask!
You are not sure when to pick up the baby or what to do when the child gets sick? Ask! With plenty of information, you will not be surprised and there will be no misunderstanding between you and the childcare provider. You are the parent, and you have the right to know all about everything connected to your child.
Watch out for the children’s safety
Child safety should be given the top priority by the childcare provider. If you have not seen any fire extinguishers on the way from the main entrance to the class, then there is something wrong. The more measures the operator will take to prevent injuries to children, the better. Don’t forget about data security. We are talking not only the birth date of your child, but also about all his photos on social networks and the web. Each childcare provider should follow data protection rules, ie. GDPR. You must, of course, sign a consent to the processing of these data.
Who and how does care for the child?
Nannies will spend the time with your kids instead of you. Not the manager or owner. They should tell you every day how your child’s mood was today or whether he/she ate the afternoon snack. Your child does not want to sleep after lunch and does not like poppy seeds? That should not be a problem! You are giving the child to a nursery or kindergarten, not to some correctional facility.
When do we go out?
In some countries an open space playground is a must, in some it is not. Staying outdoors can be a problem especially in big cities, however, if there is the possibility to play outside, this possibility is a big advantage.
In some countries, nurseries and preschool have to follow rules regarding the children’s diet, in some they have not. If you care what your children are having for lunch, ask to see the daily menu and have a look at the place where they eat. If your child suffers from any food allergy, it should not be a problem to have his own diet.
Trust, but check
The expectations you had at the beginning should be fulfilled after your child’s attendance at the facility. Excessive fluctuation of the nurses or rapid changes in the Contract should be a warning signal to you.
Daniela Vašíčková, Family and Job, z. s.