A few months ago when I decided I was ready to give Easton (and myself) a little independence i started the process of looking into "schools" for him part time. I started by asking friends and through Instagram what local schools they would recommend. There wasn't a shortage of responses of places that you all loved. Being the type A I am, I called each one, set up tours ands started my journey. Being that this is my first time I didn't know what to expect or what I was even looking for, but after the first tour I started to get an idea of what I was looking for and Safety, Curriculum and Cleanliness became a priority and of course accreditation!
Safety immediately became a top priority as it is with anything to do with your child. I want to make sure that when I drop my child off, there was a process to entering the building, a type of checkpoint per say. I cant tell you how many times I stopped by for my tour, was imminently buzzed in without any questions asked, walked into a lobby which then gave me access to the entire campus. One campus I toured, had a weird gas line the ran through the play yard of his age group and because of that it required that the outdoor gate always be unlocked, Yes, so at any time, anyone had access that yard! The lady doing the tour assured me that when the kids were not outside playing the door to the classroom was always locked. When we walked back into the room (which had kids in it) she "forgot" to lock the door behind us. Before we walked out of the room, we reminded her to lock the door. Call me crazy but with everything going on in the world right now, I want a place that remembers to lock the door with outside access EVERTY TIME.
Curriculum. One of the reasons I wanted to enroll him in a school was for developmental purposes. Having spent the first 15 months with him I was starting to feel he was getting bored and he was showing us signs of being ready for more. Not to mention the social aspect of it. Every school has a "curriculum" they follow. and it is posted on every class. I would take take note of the time, and compare it with the posted schedule to see if it was being followed. For example, if the schedule said, 9am-10am was art then I wanted to make sure there was some sort of thing that resembled art going on in that class. I am sure getting 7 toddlers to do the same thing at the same time takes an act go god, but I at least wanted to see kids engaged in the activities.
Cleanliness was another big thing for me. I am completely aware of how hard it is to keep up with one toddler, I can't event imagine 7 or 8. Listen, Easton can single handedly destroy one room by himself in a matter of minutes so I completely understand that a room might get messy. As long as they teach the kids about clean up, I am good. I am talking about true cleanliness. Like, windows, toys, drinking fountains, walls, bathrooms etc. And before you roll you eyes, I am very well in touch with reality and know that Easton will get sick more often just being around other kids in general, but I would still like to know that they make cleanliness a priority. I would like to know that the toys and surfaces Easton will touch at least get wiped down on a daily basis.
Accreditation is so important. This will tell you wether you are sending your child to a school or just a child care facility.
Of course other things were of importance too, like staff, teachers and location.
You don't even know how hard it is to find all three of these things in one location. And once I did, they had a wait list. Yes a waitlist for a toddler program. WHY DID NO ONE WARN ME ABOUT THIS. And not like a one month wait list, but like a three-six month wait list....So yeah. Luckily I had the flexibility of waiting it out and using a nanny while we got a spot. However, for my school of choice where I have already paid the first months tuition, I am still number 7 on the list and I signed up almost three months ago. And since I am going back to work in two weeks, this is causing a lot of stress because our nanny is only available a few days a week. So a long story short, Easton will be attending the next best school we found until our spot opens up. So if you have a child who is going to need day care, or day school soon, you might want to start doing your research now because chances are the good schools near you have a waiting list.
We have already started researching preschool programs that start at 2 years to try and avoid this again. There is no worse feeling than having to pick a second choice for your child.