As a first-time parent, you’re probably feeling an immense amount of pressure to ensure your child receives the best quality care and can take advantage of every possible opportunity that’s afforded to them. These factors come into play early in life when it comes time to choose a childcare option for your family. Choosing between preschool programs, daycare, and in-home childcare can be a challenge — even for more experienced parents! In today’s post, we’ll discuss some important tips to keep in mind when going through this process for the first time.
From 1990 to 2013, the percentage of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased from 59% to 65%. With so many families wanting to enroll their children in the best local programs, competition can be stiff. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to start this process early. With so many factors to consider and so many facilities to evaluate, you’ll probably need more time than you think. Plus, you’ll need to submit your applications with plenty of time to spare so that your family will have options when you really need them.
Determine a Budget
Finances may not be your favorite subject to think about, but it’s an important part of choosing the right childcare situation for your family. Keep in mind that just because a preschool or daycare program is at the top of your price range, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically the best option for your child’s needs. On the other hand, cost should not be your only consideration here. The average cost for care will depend on where you live and the type you choose, but there may be other components that make a difference. You’ll need to determine how much you’re comfortable spending on childcare before you start to really delve in.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Sometimes, zeroing in on your childcare budget will illuminate the best choice for your family. But as we mentioned, that shouldn’t be the only factor. You’ll also want to weigh the pros and cons of each type of care situation, as well as the specifics of each facility on your list. This will involve asking a lot of questions and doing a fair amount of research. You may not be able to obtain all of the information you need here, but this can make choosing between several options a lot less overwhelming. If you can cross a certain type of care or some specific options off your list, you’ll feel much more prepared to forge ahead.
Another way to make your decision clearer is to talk to your friends who have kids or other community members to hear what they have to say. You can read as many online reviews as you want, but it often helps to hear honest feedback from people you actually know and trust. Learning how other families manage new routines, new expenses, and new environments can make your own decision a bit clearer or make you think differently about an option you dismissed early on. Being armed with the opinions of your friends, relatives, and neighbors who have gone through this experience first-hand can help you feel like you’re not alone.
Schedule a Tour
Of course, you’ll also need to check out the final contenders for yourself before enrolling your child. Even if a facility has a stellar reputation, you’ll want to assess the environment to ensure that it meets your standards and that it’ll be a good fit for your child. If you decide on a daycare or preschool, taking a tour can allow you to meet the teachers and learn more about the facility’s philosophies. It can also be a great way to introduce your child to the idea of childcare; this can be a big adjustment for all family members, so the more familiar it is, the better off everyone will be.
Choosing the right care scenario for your family can be tough — and as a first-time parent, you’re probably feeling stressed. But as long as you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to find the facility or situation that is best for everyone.