How to Choose the Right Child Care Center
We make a million choices for our children in the course of their lives – some big, some small, some trivial, some monumental. And some choices may seem like a short term decision but end up impacting our children’s lives more than we ever could have imagined. This is how I feel about my choice to join Bright Horizons as an employee and to enroll my children in their early education program.
In late 2008, the economy nosedived taking with it my start-up child enrichment business. As I prepared myself to rejoin the “corporate” world it was important for me to find a company that valued education and also understood the working mom’s need for flexibility. A networking friend suggested that I research Bright Horizons.
When that research turned into a job offer I didn’t think twice about accepting. But I still needed to consider Bright Horizons as the right child care provider for my two year old. Like any working parent, I did my homework and even went through the traditional child care center checklists. At that age, I was less concerned about curriculum and more focused on the caregiver.
- Would Olivia’s teacher give her the same attention and love as her home daycare provider?
- Would they comfort her when she fell and praise her when she fit all the pieces in a puzzle?
- Would they hold my hand on this parenting journey?
If I could travel back in time, I would tell myself not to worry about the little things. Not that those little things weren’t important because, believe me, those were BIG concerns for me back then. Even on those days when I questioned my decision (you know those horrible drop offs or when I maybe didn’t like how something was handled), I would tell myself what was most important was to keep my eye on the “long term” results. I would show how Olivia gained the life skills to go from a “help me” toddler to a “I can do it myself” kindergartener. And I would share how she emerged from behind my legs to having the ability to communicate with adults as well as peers. Or I would profile the journey she took from speaking short sentences to having the confidence to read a book to her friends.
And after watching Olivia bounding onto the bus for her first day of Kindergarten without barely a wave goodbye this morning, I see this confident and happy child who is completely ready for school. And I look back in her Bright Horizons journal and see this amazing progression.
Here is an email I received on her first day. The picture was taken after she cried and clung to my husband for more than 30 minutes during drop off.
And this is her the last week at Bright Horizons.
So here is my advice to those out there who are trying to choose the right daycare, preschool or pre-kindergarten program. Look at the whole program, ask to speak with parents whose children have transitioned into different classes, or even ask to speak to alumni, consider what is important to you today but also look down the road, visit every classroom (not just the one your child will be in) and speak with the teachers in them, ask to flip through a child’s journal or portfolio to see what a day, week, month, year looks like.
Finally, remember that this is just one in a million decisions you will make in your child’s life. And the convenient thing about this decision is that you can always change them if it’s not working for you or your child.
P.S. I think it’s important to note that Bright Horizons ended up being the perfect choice for my family but it is not my intent in this post to promote our services. I encourage parents facing this important decision to seek the right provider, child care center and educator for your family.
- E-family news: Choosing & Starting Child Care – How to Adjust as a Parent
- Online Community: Choosing a Daycare Center – Near Home or Near Work?