Whether you are going back to work, are new to the area, or are just looking for a change from your current childcare situation, finding the right daycare for your little ones can feel like an enormous undertaking. There are so many emotions and questions and, sometimes, fears wrapped up in the research process. Many parents wonder if it’s even worth it. But whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time care, whether you’ve decided on daycare because it’s your only option or because you think it’s the best choice for your child, the benefits of finding the right daycare far outweigh the upfront challenges.
A good daycare can be the first place your child really starts to hone their social skills. An accredited center with caring teachers can begin preparing your child for their school-life long before they enter their first classroom. When your daycare is really a great fit, you may want to keep utilizing their care all the way up to the beginning of your child’s school years or beyond. So, how do you go about making sure the daycare you choose is the right one for your family?
If you’re trying to choose between the daycares in Effingham, IL, or anywhere else for that matter, it’s important to first know what you’re looking for. The basics are a great place to start. Ask yourself the following questions and be sure to write down the answers: Do you need full-time or part-time care? What are the hours you need to be covered? Do you hope to keep your child in the same daycare all the way up until they start school? Will you eventually need before- or after-school care? What are you willing to spend? Will you be using government or employer assistance to cover any portion of the cost?
Once you know your bare-bones needs, ask yourself what you want in a daycare. Are you hoping for small-sized groups? Would you like the daycare to be affiliated with any particular accreditation group or use a certain type of curriculum? How close to home or work would you like the center to be?
While it isn’t always possible to find a daycare that fits all your needs and wants, it is always important to be sure the center you choose has teachers and staff who you can communicate and connect well with. If you feel like your questions are not being answered as thoroughly or promptly as you’d like during the researching and interviewing process, take note and maybe keep looking elsewhere. This could be an indication of how they will communicate with you even after your child has started attending their program.
Ultimately, no matter how highly recommended a center is, or how thoroughly you’ve researched them, your gut instincts are always the best indicators for whether or not a daycare is the right fit for your family. Trust your intuition and keep looking if something about a daycare just doesn’t sit quite right. You know your family and your child better than anyone else. You’ll rest way easier if you take the time to find a daycare that feels just right.
Once you’ve done all your research and narrowed your options down to just a handful, it’s time to schedule a tour and interview the director and as many members of staff as you can. Nothing beats in-person observation when it comes to finding a safe, interesting, caring environment for your little one. Be sure to ask the right questions and pay attention to the answers. Ask about whatever you are curious or concerned about. If the staff is experienced and focused on high-quality care, they should be happy to answer all your questions as thoroughly as possible. Below is a list of recommended questions to ask when you interview the daycares in Effingham, IL, or elsewhere:
Are you licensed? Licensing is incredibly important to ensure the bare minimum in safety and quality standards. Especially when evaluating in-home daycares, ask about their licensing status and if they have any qualifications or accreditations above and beyond basic licensing. Also, ask about what experience and certifications a daycare requires the caregivers to maintain.
What is the staff/child ratio for each age group? The younger the children, the lower you want this ratio to be. Be sure the daycare has a set limit for how many children can be in a single group.
What is your childcare philosophy? Ask about what kind of curriculum the daycare uses. Talk about their care policies, specifically ask whether they have rigid policies for care or they focus on responding to each child’s unique needs. Also, ask about their policies on discipline and be sure you are on the same page.
What are your health and safety policies? Be sure you know the center’s policies on vaccinations for kids and employees. Do they have minimum health standards for the caregivers they employ? Ask how sick kids are handled and be sure the daycare has a clear-cut policy. This will help protect the health of the kids and the caregivers alike.
Now that you’re ready to evaluate and interview potential daycares for your kiddo, here’s a list of daycare center options in Effingham. (This list includes only the group daycare centers in Effingham, though there are additional in-home daycare options in the area if you don’t find what you’re looking for here.)
Montessori Kids Universe, Effingham
Serving kids from 6 weeks to 6 years old, Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 5:30pm, Montessori Kids Universe describes their approach as “unique compared with traditional childcare such as daycare and preschool programs.” The Montessori approach to learning puts the children in the driver’s seat of their education and prioritizes experiential, hands-on learning. This is of huge benefit to children in their early years, especially, as they learn and make connections by interacting with the world around them. Attending MKU’s daycare or the preschool program will leave your little one with a lasting love of learning! Click here to learn more.
Treehouse Day Care & Preschool
Serving kids from 6 weeks old up to school-age, Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 6:00pm, Treehouse Day Care & Preschool describes their center as “the leading childcare center serving Flora, Casey, Olney, Mattoon, Shelbyville, Greenup, Charleston, and surrounding areas since 1990.” They offer daycare, preschool, field trips, speech and physical development, storytime, reading, meal planning, and more. Treehouse has two daycares in Effingham, IL, one on the Northside and one on the Southside, and even features a music program! Click here to learn more.
Little Lamb’s Early Childhood Center
Serving kids from 6 weeks to 12 years old, Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 5:30pm, Little Lamb’s Early Childhood Center says that, with them, “Your child, aged 3 months to 12 years, will be in the safest environment where he or she will not only be loved and cared for but will also have fun and learn.” This program offers both daycare and preschool, as well as before and after-school care for older children, so your child can grow up here. This center is faith-based and strives to “guide, protect and nurture children the same way that our Good Shepherd loves, cares and provides for His sheep.” Click here to learn more.
Effingham Child Development Center
Serving kids from 6 weeks to 13 years old, Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 5:00pm, Effingham Child Development Center describes their daycare as “a vital community resource that has met the changing needs of the Effingham area since 1972.” This program focuses on providing a safe, developmentally-appropriate jump-start for the children of families who cannot afford the high cost of traditional childcare options. According to their website, they “foster growth in children physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.” Click here to learn more.
Any of these programs would be a great addition to your childcare plan. I wish you the best of luck as you and your little one enter this new stage. Even when the research or selection process gets overwhelming, I hope you’ll remember that it will all be worth it to have a safe, caring environment to help your child grow.
Littles are only little for a little while. So, savor every moment and don’t sweat the small stuff. And don’t forget to take the time to capture some memories for the future! As an Effingham local family and child photographer, I can help you make and capture meaningful memories with your littles while they are still small. This season of life can pass you by so quickly, so take a look at my child & family photography galleries and reach out today to start talking about your family photo session!
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