How to Choose a Preschool, Day Care or Playgroup

by bhthanks

What to look out for and what questions to ask the preschool, day care or playgroup provider

I am now in the midst of looking for a preschool or playgroup for my child for the coming school year. In addition to choosing a preschool starting September, I am also looking out for a good day camp for him to attend in the summer.

This is my first child, and I am finding that the more I research this, the more factors there are to consider.

There are so many different types of playgroups out there, and it can be hard to choose the correct one.

Ultimately, it is up to you to choose where to send your child. It is important to go down and take a look at the place yourself, to speak to the people in charge, and to speak to other parents that have sent their kids there.

When doing so, there are a number of questions that you may want to ask, and factors to consider.

Every parent may have different factors and priorities that are important to them. This article will give you ideas and suggestions on what to ask, and what to look out for.


  • How much do they charge?
  • Is it worth the price?
  • Can you afford it?
  • What is included in the price?


  • Do they provide meals and snacks?
  • Are the meals fresh and healthy?
  • Do you need to send along your own snacks?


  • Do they provide transportation to and from your door?
  • How much does it cost for transportation?
  • Do you need to drop off and pick up the child, and if so, are you able to?


Even if they have transportation, there may be times when the child is sick or has an appointment, and you need to go down and pick him up yourself.

Is the location convenient and easily accessible to you?

Schedule and types of activities

What do the children do all day long? Is there structure? What kind of activities and toys do they play with? What are they learning?

Safety and environment setting

Is the environment child-proof? Is there anything potentially dangerous in the room?

Are the rooms well lit, colorful and friendly looking? Are there windows, fresh air, and room to play?


Days and hours

What are the days and times that the daycare operates? What time does the playgroup start and end each day? Does this work well around your daily work schedule and appointments?


Diapers and Wiping

  • Do they accept kids with diapers, or does your child need to be potty-trained or toilet trained?
  • Will they adequately clean up your child's diapers, or wipe him well after using the toilet?
  • Do you need to pay extra for diapers?
  • Are the kids left in dirty diapers for a long time before being changed?


Would you prefer for your child to be on of the oldest or one of the youngest in the group?

Some parents like the idea of their child skipping grades and advancing.

However, when a child is one of the oldest in his group, he is more likely to excel, and have the necessary skills to do well in the group.

Warm Staff
Warm Staff


Are the staff members warm, loving and caring? Are they the type of people that you would want your children to be exposed to? Some factors to influence your decision might be whether they have experience with children, and their appropriate use of language.

Other important issues include their methods of discipline and their general outlook on life. What type of principles will they be teaching your child? How do they treat a child that misbehaves? How do they put them to sleep or wake them up?


Another factor which you may want to consider are the other children who will be in the group.

Does the child have friends that he would like to be with?

Do the children seem to be friendly and play well together, or do they lean more towards fighting, bullying, or cliques?

Children Playing
Children Playing

Size of group and ratio of kids to staff

The bigger the group and the less staff there is, the less likely it is that each child will get enough attention.

On the other hand, if a group is big and has large enrollment, that might indicate general satisfaction of the parents that send their children there.

It is important to look at the ratio of kids versus staff, to make sure that the children have enough staff members to devote to them.

There are instances where babies sit in dirty diapers for a very long time, because the staff members don't have enough time to change all of them!

Will the staff easily notice if a child is missing, or wanders off?

Girls on Trampoline
Girls on Trampoline
Baby with Doll
Baby with Doll

What do other people say?

Parents and Staff Feedback

I have heard of people that were unhappy with certain daycare providers for various reasons. In one case, if a child had an accident, he was forced to sit in his wet diapers as punishment. In another case, when a child wouldn't keep her ponytail in her hair, her teacher threatened to chop off all of her hair, and when she didn't tie her shoes, the teacher threatened to throw out her shoes. When the parent confronted the teacher, the teacher said that "obviously" she wouldn't chop off the child's hair or throw off her shoes. However, the parent was not happy about this method of discipline. These are empty threats, which are inconsistent. This can frighten a child un-necessarily, and also teach a child that adults lie and should not be believed. Ultimately, such methods would backfire, and make it harder for the child to develop trust in adults, and to listen to adults around them.

Some other factors in the process

Do they have all of the proper forms, and do they meet legal requirements for a daycare?


  • Make sure to get reviews. This can be one of the most important factors, other than checking it out yourself. Speak to other parents that sent their children there. Were they happy? What do they say about it?


  • Go down and take a look at the place. Watch what the kids do, how the staff interacts with them, whether the place is neat and clean.

Congratulations! You found the right preschool and day-camp. Your Child is registered. Now What? You might find these articles helpful:

A) What To Send Along With Your Toddler To Preschool- Get the necessary supplies! 

B) Expect An Adjustment When Your Child Starts Preschool Or Day-Camp

C) Beware of Periorbital Cellulitis in Your Toddler

Enjoy your child!

Updated: 08/20/2012, bhthanks
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