Preschools across the region are offering open houses and setting calendars for registration.
If you want your child to start preschool this fall, now is the time to look around, check out programs and make your choices. Many preschools will fill up in the next couple of months or will have limited availability by the summer. Click here for a recent post on open houses at some preschools.
But parents always are on the hunt for child care for their kids - whether it's for a yet-to-be-born child or because they've taken on a new job or more responsibilities at work.
I checked in with Child Care Services Association, the Triangle-based nonprofit that works to ensure affordable, accessible, high quality child care for all families through research, services and advocacy. The association offers services for families looking for child care.
Here are steps they recommend that parents follow as they search for schools for their children:
1. Begin as early as possible. Many programs enroll months ahead or have long waiting lists.
2. Visit at least three child care programs and spend at least an hour at each site. Visiting in the afternoon is best for talking to the director; visiting in the morning is best for observing teacher-child interactions.
- Ask questions. The association has some great checklists. Click here to find them.
- Observe all areas where the children are cared for, including outdoor areas.
- Look for danger signals that can alert you to problems.
- Listen to how the teachers are interacting with the children.
3. Decide what is important for you and your child. Make a list of what you want to know about the program. Some of these questions might include:
- Do the program’s philosophies reflect our family values?
- How will the provider involve me in the daily events of my child’s life?
- Do the hourly, holiday and vacation schedules meet my family’s needs?
4. Talk with other parents whose children are enrolled in the child care program you are considering.
5. Ask a Child Care Services Association counselor to help you research the compliance history for each program
that you are considering.
6. Visit your favorite program again, without an appointment, and observe at a different time of day.
Once you've picked a school and your child is enrolled, the association urges parents to be involved by volunteering, dropping in and regularly talking with your child's teachers.
From personal experience, as somebody who has sent a child to full-time day care and part-time preschool, I can say that those conversations, experiences and interactions are so rewarding.
Child Care Services Association has much more information. Take a look on their website.