5 Thing to Look for When Touring Portland Child Cares

5 Thing to Look for When Touring Portland Child Cares

You did it! You found a child care that might have a spot for your kid! Now…how do you figure out if this is a place you actually want to send your kid?

I have visited over 50 child cares in the Portland Metro area of all types. Here’s what I’m looking for to decide if it’s a place I want to pass on to my clients.

Safety

You’re going to have a gut sense of this as soon you walk in the door. Does the environment look clean and well-maintained? Are there safety features – light socket covers, gates at stairways- in places they need to be? Is there a defined space for diaper changes and a sanitizing protocol? If your spidey-senses are saying, “I don’t know about this place” right off the bat, probably time to move on.

The tour is also an excellent time to ask follow-up questions about anything you were unsure about or that concerned you when doing a license check. If you didn’t get to see that blog post, look here for this MUST-DO safety step.

Interaction

Here’s what the research says makes the biggest difference in early learning: adult-child interaction. Whatever the age of your child, you are looking for a place where adults are talking with children all day long.

In the baby room, that’s going to sound more like narrating the day (“I’m changing your diaper. Oh look, you’re raising your foot. Here’s a little piggy…”) or babbling back and forth (“Ah-boo to you too!”), and of course singing songs and reading books. As children get older, I’m hoping for a program that engages children in really thinking about the world around them, asking lots of “how” and “why” questions!

Environment

You want your child to be in a space that is designed for kiddos their age. Toys/books/games should be nicely displayed and easily accessible by children. Ideally there should be a curated set of material that is rotated regularly; having a toy free -for-all can be overwhelming. This space might be light-filled and full of Scandinavian birch design, or a basement that has been carefully and thoughtfully appointed with classic toys that every child loves. If a place is a little worn around the edges I’m fine with that as long as it is safe overall and the materials are clean, unbroken, and well cared for.

Routine

Whether your child is 4 months or 4 years old, there needs to be an intentional plan for their day that takes into account what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.

Little babies should be allowed to follow their own rhythms for eating and sleeping, but there should still be time within the day for them to go outside on a walk with their teachers to get fresh air and to listen to stories, particularly once they pass the 6 months mark and are awake for longer stretches.

For children ages 3+, I want to see a routine that involves a circle time or other whole group activity so they build their stamina for this in kindergarten. I also want to see that they have the opportunity to explore the different “disciplines” – math, science, literacy, art- every day.

Philosophy

I’m actually curriculum agnostic – you can have a great Montessori or Waldorf or Reggio program or a rich stew of various programs. I just want the provider to have a plan for the day and to have a rationale behind why they chose that plan.

When I’m on a tour, I’m actually more interested in how their philosophy of raising children matches my family values. Are we on the same page around how to handle challenging behaviors like biting or hitting? How would they handle it if my child refused to take the bottle, and do I feel good about their response? Way better to ask now and find out there’s not a match than to discover that 3 months in.

You are your child’s first teacher. You know them best and your instincts about what will work for your family will lead you in the right direction!

If you get stuck, I’ve got tons of resources in my free Facebook Group on finding care!

Also, check out these other great tips on the blog: Understanding Your Child’s Circadian Rhythms & 4 Realistic Timelines for Postpartum Healing.

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