11 things I checked before enrolling my daughter in a Daycare

As kids, my brother and I went to daycare as our parents were working. I was about 4 months old when I started going for babysitting with my brother. However, I was uncomfortable with the lady taking care of me and so my mother changed my babysitter. The new lady was a gem of a person, and I still remember the taste of the delicious food cooked by her. But the people I do not want to remember are her husband and son…

I was about 5 years old when I found out they did something inappropriate to me and my other friends whenever my babysitter wasn’t around. It was a horrid experience, I didn’t know what was happening with me.

I turned 11 and the babysitter shifted to Alibaug with her family. Luckily I was old enough to stay home with my brother. So that was it. I was happy that I never had to see the father-son duo again. When I turned 13, I came know what they were doing to us was sexual abuse. It took me 8 more years to speak about it to my parents. This is after my daughter was born.

All these years I was quiet because they made me believe that it was all my fault. But touching a child with a sexual intention was those two’s fault, not mine. Those experiences have scarred me deeply. I am 22 now but it is still difficult for me to trust people or even talk to them.

Career and money are important but your child’s childhood is more precious. Believe me when I say this. I have been there, unaware of the misdeeds and wanting to get out of that place and situation. The pain a child goes through is a lifetime.

But today I am not scared that same will happen to my daughter. She goes to a full-time daycare and is a very happy child. The concept of daycare is relatively new in India. Previously, there were babysitters who used to babysit at home without any knowledge of childcare, merely for the purpose of making money. Times are changing and so is the daycare facility scenario.

My daughter was 9 months old when she started going to daycare. Here are a few things that I made sure were in place before enrolling her in the daycare:

1. The Reputation

When I first visited her daycare it was a newly opened center but the brand name it carried was one of the most trusted ones in India. I as a child had seen students from that school and heard a lot about the brand s principles. Therefore I could trust them for providing utmost care to my daughter if she were a part of it.

2. The Teachers/Caretakers

Very few parents know about the educational qualifications required to be a daycare teacher/caretaker. Let me tell you, a person needs to pass higher secondary certificate (12th boards) + a diploma in early childhood care and education (ECCEd) or Secondary School Certificate (10th boards) + Diploma in Pre Primary Teachers Training. The same education is needed for teachers who teach the children from playschool to grade 2.

Many new independent daycares hire ‘Aayaahs’ (uneducated females who usually work as domestic helps) to take care of children. Therefore you need to ask for the teacher’s certificate and certainly have a talk in order to understand their mentality towards your concerns. (I am an unmarried mother and it’s a real big deal in India. My daughter still doesn’t have a birth certificate and her daycare allowed her without a birth certificate because they believe that every child is equal, although my own country’s law doesn’t care about child of a single mother)

Also check with the student teacher ratio for daycare. In my child’s daycare the caregiver/teacher student ratio is 1:5.

3. The Non Teaching Staff

Apart from teachers there will be non teaching staff and their verification by the local police is equally important. The watchman and the peon are probably the only male staff in the centre/school who usually keep on shuffling as per their contracts with the security agency instead of the daycare so you need to keep a tab on the daycare’s head or in some cases the school’s centre head to make sure that the staff that is on duty is a verified person.

As kids, my brother and I went to daycare as our parents were working. I was about 4 months old when I started going for babysitting with my brother. However, I was uncomfortable with the lady taking care of me and so my mother changed my babysitter. The new lady was a gem of a person, and I still remember the taste of the delicious food cooked by her. But the people I do not want to remember are her husband and son…

4. The Principal

It is possible that the daycare will not have a Principal. But if you are lucky enough to have one make sure to arrange a meeting with her and talk to her about everything. Cross check everything that you feel the need to.An incident that shook me while daycare hunting was the principal telling me that they cannot admit my daughter in her daycare because I am an unmarried mother and a 9-month-old baby will be a bad influence on other toddlers. This daycare was in Malad and belongs to one of the countries most reputed brands.

5. The Cleanliness

Check the fans, ceilings, nooks and corners, kitchen and toilets to see the level of cleanliness of the daycare. Also, check the outdoor air and ask them to show you where they keep all the detergents and toilet cleaners to check what they use.

6. The Food

Many of you would prefer sending home cooked meals to your kiddos, but believe me, the kids eat more when they share their food and have their meals together. Ask the daycare about their menu and how many snacks will they be provided per day. A daycare should have strict rules for food and should not give in to a child’s food tantrums. Also, make sure to inform them about any food allergies that your child might have.

7. The Play Area and Classroom

Make sure the daycare has enough space for 15 kids to stay in a classroom. And the outdoor play area is big enough and equipped with slides and other outdoor toys. The child spends most of his or her time at daycare, you don’t want your child to get trapped in a room with 10 other toddlers for 6-8 hours.

8. Activities  & Timeline

When I first sat down with the center head to understand what activities were going to take place I thought she was faking it but then when I joined them on Facebook and started looking at their photos I have to say I chose the perfect daycare for my daughter. Festivals, celebrations, were enough to flabbergast me but then I saw the daily activities and I was so proud to see her do new things almost every day. They have a dedicated yoga time, story time, outdoor playtime, snacks time, lunch time, pretend play time, pool parties, movie time, monthly themes, dance time, exercise time, and what not!And the best part is their schedule is always on time. The child becomes so independent that my daughter takes her blanket and sleeps at 2 pm in afternoon whenever she is at home. I had to struggle with her routine for 1 year and I am sure if I was a stay at home mom my daughter would never have been so independent regarding her morning and bedtime routine.

9. Monitoring

The first thing that I saw when I entered the daycare, was a big screen with all the classrooms, outdoor play area, passage and every gate on display. The principal and center head was closely monitoring every classroom and used to give a call to the respective teacher if they see something not in order. So you need to make sure that the daycare has working CCTV cameras and someone to monitor them.

10. Fees

Many of us consider this as the first thing to look out for while choosing or deciding anything. However, I kept it as the last priority because I know after reading this post you too will never think a daycare is expensive as compared to babysitting. Finally the fees part depends on where you are located and what kind of service you are looking for. I stay in Borivali, Mumbai so the fees are like any other normal daycare which is 8000 for 12 hours including food ( this is a discounted price as my daughter was one of the first students to join the daycare while the discount was going on back in 2015). Nowadays the fees start from 10000. The fees depend upon your child’s age and the number of hours of stay at the daycare.I would like to share an experience I had in my daycare hunting experience. I came across a corporate daycare in Goregaon. I visited them with a friend of mine. The entrance was a very secure one. However, when we went up, we saw 20-30 kids crying their lungs out with no teachers around. The kids were handled by girls who looked somewhere around 14-22. We immediately lost all interest. The locality was a posh one but I am sure no parent will ever want to send their children to a place without professional supervision. Because we were there we decided to stay there and listen to the coordinator. The fees she quoted was 18000 rupees per month for a 9-month-old baby. Imagine!

11. Communication

Ask them how will they communicate about the child’s progress and other events with you. What will be the frequency of the parent-teacher meetings? Ask them how should you communicate with them regarding your concerns.

Good Luck to you and your little bundle of joy! Do share your daycare hunting experiences in the comment section below!

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