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Five Things to Look For When Touring a Childcare Program

Categories: General Knowledge Fund

Five Things to Look For When Touring a Childcare Program


When deciding on a childcare program for your child, you’ll want to be sure to tour the facility first.  Tours of childcare programs typically take between 20 – 30 minutes, with time for questions that arise.  If you are going to take time out of your day to tour a program, you should prepare in advance.   Tours of childcare facilities will most likely be held by the Head of School or Director, who will point out what he or she would like you to notice.  But you’ll need to look beyond the “highlights.” It’s helpful to know things to look for that denote a high quality program.


A Shortlist of the Most Important Things to Look For:

  1. What Does the Classroom Look Like?  Your child will learn just as much from the environment as she will from the adults.
  • Look for classrooms that are clean, uncluttered and organized.
  • All items should be child-sized to allow her to develop independence.
  • Be wary of classrooms that have loud colors and too much clutter. If you feel overstimulated, imagine how your child will feel.
  • And, if there is a television in the classroom RUN in the other direction. You are paying for high quality care from loving adults, not from a screen

2. Are the Children Engaged in the Activity? 

Be wary of pure chaos – children running around, chasing each other, and adults just trying to keep them from being injured. Of course, there is a time and a place for this (outside on the playground) – but in the classroom, you should look for children to be engaged in activities on their own, with a group or with an adult.


  1. How Does the Staff Speak to the Children?

This should actually be broken into two parts. What are they saying and how do they say it?

The “what” part is about the type of language used. Your child is in a period of intense language development and she will learn vocabulary, syntax and grammar to use from the adults in her life. I know you will model proper grammar for your child – but be sure the adults in the center do as well.


The “how” part is, perhaps, even more important. Look to see if the adults speak in a respectful tone to the children and that they take the time to get down at a child’s level when communicating. Red flags include yelling across the classroom and any tone that is exasperated, impatient or angry.


  1. Does the Staff Look Happy?

The staff in the program will spend more time with your child than your sister, your mother or your favorite babysitter. They will have a tremendous impact on your child’s development and you can (and should) CHOOSE a program that employs happy well-balanced adults. Be concerned if the staff seem stressed, distracted or unhappy.


  1. Sweat the Small Stuff.

The tiny details of the program can actually tell you a lot about the overall quality. Is the lobby clean and attractive?  Are there cobwebs in the ceiling? That said, some wonderful programs operate in less-than-ideal facilities. But, if you notice a lot of “little” things that need attention, you should think about how detail-oriented they will be with your child.