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 gone by. It feels like you and your partner just found out you’re expecting and now you’re in a race to figure out childcare after parental leave is over. Start early. Go slowly. Prepare. Plan. Organize. You’ve chosen your career path by identifying activities you enjoy and your workplace is an environment that enhances your well being and productivity. You want the same from your child’s early learning environment.
Weigh Your Options
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: An 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.
- 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 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: Nothing 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
No matter which option you decide upon, 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. Visit the centre and get to know the provider and/or staff.
- Is there a stimulating curriculum or teaching philosophy? 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. 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?
- 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 childcare centre 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 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 instead?
Heading back to work and either starting or resuming a childcare 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 childcare 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 Atelier Kids, our local High Park/Bloor West Village child care centre on Oakmount Road across from High Park. Discover our Reggio-inspired approach by requesting a tour of our centre. Follow us on Instagram. You’ll see the difference.