How to Find the Very Best Child Care for Your Family in 8 Simple Steps
- Choose a childcare center close by, it can be a real sanity saver.
- Nationally accredited centers meet high standards in teacher qualifications, curriculum, and safety.
- Make a list of what matters to your family and use it as a guide..
- Look for cleanliness, nutrition and health and safety information.
- Speak with the teachers and see if the classrooms encourage exploration, reading, and a sense of belonging.
- Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions before deciding.
Research shows that choosing a quality preschool for your child will help them get kindergarten-ready—and put them on the path to a fantastic future. So, choosing the right childcare center is a pretty important decision, and maybe a little overwhelming. We get it—and we are here help you and your child meet this moment to find a place that will make your family’s life better.
How do you know “high-quality” versus so-so or no-go on your search? Using insight from our childcare experts with nearly 50 years of experience, here is our checklist for families with children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old to find the best preschool for you.
Step #1. Make It Easy on Yourself, Pick a Center Along Your Commuter Route
The rhythm of drop-off and pickup will soon become a reality of your days. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, of course, but having a childcare center close by can be a real sanity saver—especially on those days when you’ve got an early morning meeting or shift, and nothing is going right. Consider things like, what’s more important to your family—being closer to home or closer to work or somewhere in-between?
Step #2. Find a Center That's Nationally Accredited
Nationally accredited centers will give your child everything they need to reach their full potential. Think of accreditation as a big gold star in the world of early childhood education. Awarded by an independent organization, accredited centers meet rigorous standards in everything from teacher qualifications to curriculum to safety. (Nationally, only about 10% of centers are accredited; 98% of KinderCare Learning Centers are!)
Step #3. Make a Short List of What Matters Most to Your Family
The right center will honor and celebrate your family, including your structure, needs, beliefs, and little quirks. To help in your search, create a list with what you need from a center, what you want for your child, and any concerns you may have, no matter how large or small.
Step #4. See if the Center Has the Basics Down Pat
When you visit virtually or take an in-person tour, this is your time to check out the space, meet the center director, and imagine how adorable your child will look covered in finger paint. But if the center can’t get the basics right, move on.
- Cleanliness: The center should obviously be clean and tidy.
- Safety: Look to see if healthy and safety procedures are easy to find on their website and prominently displayed. Plus, strong emergency plans should be also be available with staff able to explain them—especially in areas prone to hurricanes, snowstorms, and earthquakes.
- Nutrition: Healthy body, healthy mind! Menus for meals and snacks should be made up of whole-grain foods, plenty of fruits and veggies, and does not serve juice, which is high in sugar.
Step #5. Check to See if the Classrooms Are Made Just for Kids
Whether you’ve got a whirling dervish, a whiz kid, or quiet contemplator, a great classroom for kids empowers them all to reach their full learning potential. Do they:
- Encourage exploration by providing easy access to many learning possibilities—science stations, art supplies, dress-up clothes, and games.
- Encourage reading by placing books within easy reach. Bonus points if the classroom is “print-rich.”
- Build a sense of belonging by hanging art at eye-level and labeling cubbies with names and pictures.
Step #6. Spend a Little Time with the Teachers
A Lifetime Of Confidence Starts Here
Our teachers help every child build the confidence they need to try new things and explore the world around them.Search for a center near you
If children love their teacher, they’ll love school—and love learning. (Parenting wins!) Take time to speak with the teachers, looking for passion and heart. A center director can help you schedule a video visit or phone call with your child’s future teacher. When talking with them, do they seem to love what they do and being with the children? Ask them what they like about teaching littles or, if you have a concern about your child, bring it up. Their answers will tell you a lot about their passions and their openness to working with you!