The whirlwind of activity after having a child is joyful and lively, always a new adventure around every corner. Moments quickly turn into days and those days turn into months. It feels like you and your partner just found out that you’re expecting and now you’re in the race to figure out child care after parental leave is over. Start early. Go slowly. Prepare. Plan. Organize. You chose your career path by identifying activities you enjoy and your workplace is an environment that enhances your wellbeing and productivity. You want the same from your early learning environment or daycare.
Weigh Your Options
Just like you chose your employer, you now need to choose your child’s “workplace”; a place they are excited to be every day with eagerness because they feel welcome as a valued member of the community and they engage in activities that are filled with exploration and discovery.
Choosing childcare is like any life decision; start by narrowing down your options. Your first decision is to choose the type of care that’s best for your child and your family:
- Group Daycare: A early learning setting that is licensed and employs educators and staff who generally have experience with early childhood education philosophies and approaches. Costs can be higher for group daycare due to the licensing requirements and expectations for health and safety concerns, experienced early childhood educators staff salaries, and on-site food options provided for the children. Learn more about the learning approach at our Toronto daycare.
- Home Daycare: A daycare that is run out of the provider’s house where often they will care for their own children at the same time, with typically a maximum of 5 children. Some home daycare providers have received training and are licensed, yet most are not. Costs are generally lower than Group Daycare for the corollary of the expenses listed above.
- Nanny: a live-in or live-out nanny that takes care of and is completely focussed on your child/ren, as well as provides housekeeping duties. Can be costly, but provides extra convenience for busy parents. May not have teaching credentials and may not be able to provide as much social stimulation as there is within group daycare settings.
- Grandparents/Family Members: What beats the love of a grandparent? This type of care is a traditional type of care that has existed through the ages. Can be very cost effective, however disagreements may arise with different parenting styles. Social stimulation is also a consideration as the child gets older.
- Stay-at-Home Parent: If a family can support one parent staying home to nurture the child, then this is a wonderful option. Again, this can be initially cost effective, but the parent may encounter a difficult time re-entering the workforce once the children start school. Additionally, the parent may not have formal teaching or early childhood experience, so this can represent a significant learning curve. It is also important to socialize with other children and families so that children are prepared for school.
Do Your Research
Whether you decide on Group Daycare in Toronto or Home Daycare or a nanny, like your own workplace, you still want to choose an environment based on the following:
- Do they have a good reputation? Ask friends, neighbours, and colleagues about their own experiences with a specific provider or childcare centre. Visit the centre and get to know the provider and/or staff. Visit the location for a scheduled tour and make sure you can also pop by for an unannounced visit, should you wish to do so. Is the environment one that you could imagine your child thriving in?
- Is there a stimulating curriculum or teaching philosophy? At our Reggio-inspired daycare in Toronto, children learn and develop ideas at a rapid pace and require the time and opportunity to explore various tactile materials, develop social interactions and communication skills, and discover curiosities about their immediate world. Is the location you are considering a place where your child will have these opportunities? Will the provider you are considering offer a learning environment or simply provide babysitting for your child?
- What will my child eat everyday? Providing healthy options for proper nutrition is a necessary consideration and can widely separate your options when considering a childcare provider. Healthy meals and snacks give our children the sustenance they need to do the all-important work of growing. Does your child have a food allergy or intolerance? Make sure your daycare in Toronto either provides or supports a diet that is comprised mostly of whole unprocessed foods, free of the most common allergens, very low on the glycemic index, and high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital in children’s nutrition.
- What kind of space(s) will my child be in each day? A clean, engaging environment is the most basic we should expect from a daycare in Toronto. Is there enough space in the room(s) to allow for free movement? Are there windows and sources of light to stimulate learning and discovery through play that involves gardens, water, trees, nature and fresh air? Endless research has shown the value in outdoor play and exposure to nature in day-to-day activities.
Whether you’re able to easily decide what’s right for you and your child or not, remember to dig deeper, past the basics.
- Are you are a parent that likes to be involved? You want to know the details of their day and the progression of their learning over time. How will your childcare provider help you in attaining this information? What type of communication tools does the provider use? Is it important for you to be a part of the classroom community? How can you contribute to your child’s learning, and do you want to know the other parents and their role in the community?
- Does your child ask endless questions and notice the details on the smallest of things? Will the childcare provider/staff have the time and patience to pause and explore those valuable teaching moments? Is there adequate staffing to allow this indulgence in their day and to stray from a scheduled routine or perhaps following a formal curriculum is important to instead?
Heading back to work and either starting or resuming the daycare routine will be stressful, yet managing the process of finding the best daycares in Toronto or alternative approach for your child will help eliminate a lot of that stress. Your child, like you, needs and wants a work-life-balance, and doing your research to recruit the best daycare provider will put you on a path for success, enhancing your child’s inherent capability to learn, grow, and create a life by design.
For a creative learning approach to your child’s education, visit our local Toronto childcare centre located in Bloor West Village. Discover our Reggio Emilia-inspired approach at Atelier Kids through our daycare programs, and enroll today.