You've scoped out the day care center to make sure it's been childproofed and seems safe, but what should you look for in the care provider? While there's no one-size-fits-all mold that guarantees a positive day care experience, you should expect certain qualities and skills in the person you entrust with your precious little one. With a list of qualifications in mind, you can easily tell if a potential day care provider has what it takes.
Good Communication Skills
You probably don't need to hear her whole life story, but a care provider should be able to communicate well with you. She spends a large chunk of time daily with your little one, so you want to know what happens during the hours they're together. This includes things like behavior problems, health issues, potty training progress and interactions she has with the other children at the facility.
Child Development Knowledge
Unlike teachers, day care providers often aren't required to have specific education, but a person who knows a little about kids is better able to care for yours. If she understands that toddlers often have separation anxiety, she'll be better able to help soothe your sad tot at drop-off. A care provider with some teaching experience, a child development background or years of day care experience is likely to better understand what makes children tick.
In a perfect world, your day care provider wouldn't have to worry about things like CPR, choking or first aid. But toddlers aren't often known for their stellar sense of balance or their ability to anticipate danger. You'll feel better if your child's care provider knows how to handle emergency situations, from boo-boos like scraped knees to more serious -- and scary -- problems like choking.
As a mom, you know how much the toddler years put your patience to the test. With a room full of toddlers, your care provider needs an abundance of this virtue. Without a patient personality, she's likely to snap over toddler temper tantrums or kiddos who refuse to share. And these things are likely to happen approximately every five minutes.
When looking for a care provider, skip right past the Debbie Downers in the application pile. Everyone has a bad day now and then, but you want your child around a positive, upbeat person when you're not around. You can get a sense of your provider's outlook on life during the interview process.
It's tough to leave your little one with someone else. Your toddler may feel the same apprehension over being separated from Mommy. A care provider with a nurturing personality can give your child a feeling of safety and comfort when you're gone. She'll never take your place as No. 1 nurturer, but she can wipe away his tears and help him feel better while he's at day care.
A day care provider takes on a huge responsibility when she agrees to watch your little one. You may assume that anyone who enters the child care field would have a sense of responsibility, but that's not always the case. You want an adult who provides constant supervision of your child and makes responsible decisions that keep him safe while you're gone. Responsibility often comes with age and experience in the child care field.
Your definition of "fun" has probably changed from your college partying days. With a toddler in the picture, fun comes in the form of playing Candyland for the millionth time or dancing wildly to some children's music. To keep your toddler entertained and happy during the day, choose a caregiver who plays with the kids and plans age-appropriate activities for them.
The same way your boss relies on you to show up each day, you need a child care provider who is reliable. If she frequently bails on watching your tot, you're left to find alternate care -- or risk the security of your own job by missing work. A reliable day care provider is consistently available per the agreement you made to give your toddler quality care.
No matter how much experience a day care provider has, she should value what you as a parent want for your child. A care provider who follows your wishes on topics like potty training and discipline shows that she respects your concerns for your child. A relationship with the caregiver based on trust means less tension between home and day care.