As I think back to a few years ago when we started our search for the best childcare for our family I was lost. I want to help you bypass things I missed, so you might better understand what to look for. Major tip is to start taking tours early as so many of the best facilities have waiting lists. Luckily we found our perfect match at Kiddie Academy.
St. Louis families I would put them on the top of your list to take a tour of one of their 3 facilities : Des Peres, O’Fallon and their newest in Chesterfield.
In -home vs Facility
This is the big first decision a family needs to make. We tried in-home and we loved who we used, but it wasn’t a great solution for our family long term. Below are a few things to think about….
- If your in-home needs to take a family vacation you are stuck searching for back up care.
- If your in home provider is sick or their children are sick, again your are out of daycare for the day or week.
- Licensed and insured. These are two huge things you need to consider when you are looking for a facility. Are they being regulated by the state? Are they meeting any standards? A big part of this is the ratio of kid to caregiver, which changes for each age. At Kiddie Academy our boys are separated by their age and the curriculum matches their age. For our in-home, the ages ranged and there simply isn’t a great way to manage a curriculum for all ages.
As a parent, leaving your child every Monday though Friday you have to know that they are safe. If not, there is no way of going on with your day without worry.
- What security measures are in place?
- Who is allowed in the building?
- Do you have access to live cameras?
Kiddie Academy has two entrances that are both secure at all times. To get into the facility you need an access code. You can easily add family to your child’s’ pickup list and they can create their own access code. I also love that the director offices are between the entrance as well as the front desk!
Technology is going to be such a huge part of our children lives, so its important to introduce it correctly at the right age.
- Do you use technology in the classroom?
- How often do the kids use technology in the classroom?
Our kids have a few centers at Kiddie Academy that are technology based. In our family we don’t let the kids use phones or ipads very often, so I like that the time with them at school is limited and used when they are learning.
Curriculum | Play
I want my kids to go to school and have fun but learn at the same time. It is really important to me that they have structure, and are learning at the correct pace to keep them on track for school.
- How are the children separated by rooms?
- Who comes up with the curriculum?
- Do you have parent / teacher meetings?
- What if my child is falling behind or needs extra help?
- How much of day is spent on play vs. learning?
- Is there an outdoor area for kids?
- Are there any extra programs provided?
We have found the perfect mix of fun and learning at KA. My boys have been at this school since they were one and most days they are excited at drop off. They come home showing me their projects that they made or telling me about running around on the play ground with friends. I love all the extras that KA brings in for our boys too. Since we have been there they have had a bubble bus, comedian, water slide, soccer coach, even Santa!
Cleanliness | Healthcare
You would think this wouldn’t need to be a category but trust me it is HUGE! Ask about the cleaning schedules, tour the facility, ask to walk in various rooms.
- What is your cleaning schedule?
- What is your shoe policy in the infant rooms?
- What is your immunization policy?
- Can I bring medication for my child?
- What is your sick policy?
Another area that KA knocks it out of the park is maintaining such a clean facility even with tons of littles running around. They have a cleaning company come 5 nights a week to clean for 12 hours! Plus they have a fancy add on for their HVAC system called AirPHX, it helps to fight the germs in the air! My boys know to wash their hands when they arrive too!
- What form of communication is used at the school?
- Is there a daily report?
- What about emergency communication?
- How do you handle discipline?
- How do you handle any injuries in the classroom.
This was another big area for me. ( control freak ) I want to see what is happening daily with my boys. Each day we get an update via our app from Kiddie Academy that shows what they did and has pictures and videos. The report breaks down into multiple categories including restroom breaks, meals, and curriculum.
- What is the average tenure of employees?
- What kind of education does your staff have?
- Are staff background checked?
- What certifications do your employees have?
I leave my boys with the Kiddie Academy team from 8-5 Monday – Friday and it makes me feel so much better knowing that all their employees have an education background . Every employee has their associates in education, psychology, family development area or Kiddie Academy St.Louis will pay for studies to complete and test for the CDA (Child Development Associates), which is required to be completed within one year. On top of all of that they are background checked, are CPR certified.
What sets you apart….
To me this question should be very easy for any school or provider to answer. Remember you are essentially here to “interview” them so never feel bad asking questions.
Start Scheduling Tours
In the end you just want to find a place that fits with what you need for your family. You want to feel confident that they are giving your child the best environment for growing and learning. I created an easy printable sheet for you to take to your potential meetings with day cares / pre-schools!
I am happy to answer any questions that come up too, reach out via socials or email! To schedule a visit with one of the three Kiddie Academy locations in St.Louis, click here.
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