When the time came for my little one to start school, I was extremely grateful I had worked at a daycare when I was younger. There were many signs I knew to look for having been an “insider.” Most, however, do not have the “behind the scenes” knowledge I have. This is why this post is important for me to write. To share my knowledge.
People would be absolutely amazed to find out what goes on behind closed doors when nobody is looking. At first, I was shell shocked to witness a caretaker yelling at a two-year-old to sit on the toilet until they used the bathroom, tears streaming down their face. Instantly, I grabbed the child, put a diaper on him, and told the caregiver I would change all of his diapers until he was ready. To force a child to learn at the same pace of another is wrong. Not to mention to teach a child something the parents are against. In the end, you are the caregiver, NOT the parent.
Another child accidentally spilled something on their outfit. While the caregiver was changing her clothes, the words coming out of the caregiver’s mouth made me tremble. I could only imagine how the young four-year-old felt. Thinking quickly, I convinced the caregiver to allow me to change the child and calmed them down. If you don’t like to care for children, you should find another job. Seriously! Food was another factor. Cake for snack, processed frozen food for lunch, chips for snack, etc. Although I have never been a nutritionist, children need food to help their bodies grow. If you are unable to provide what children need, you should not be in business.
Armed with this knowledge, I set out to find a daycare/school for my two-year-old. My hopes were high since it had been several years since working in the daycare industry. Unfortunately, from what I witnessed and read, in some circumstances it had only worsened. My husband was definitely frustrated with me. “There is not going to be the perfect daycare, Charissa.” To that I said, “Then our daughter won’t go. Period.” And the battle lines were drawn. Ha! Note: Due to health reasons, I quit my job so my daughter never had to go to daycare, much to my relief. This process was used, though, when looking for a private school for her. So, it can be used for both daycare and private school.
When we walked into the daycare, my husband and I were amazed. The receptionist area was immaculate, everything was put in its place, and the staff had the best manners. During the tour, teachers would stop and say hi and all children were in single file lines. Then, a three-year-old boy darted out of a classroom laughing and running and then fell on the tile floor. Another boy came running right behind him. Their teacher came out of the room, yanked the boy who was hurt by his arm, yelling at them both, as she dragged them back into the room. The director just kept talking as if nothing had happened. I smiled, stopped her in mid-sentence, and asked her if she was going to speak with the teacher. She said she would talk to her about how she handled the situation. “Go ahead,” I said, “we’re leaving.”
We decided to look into Montessori Schools in our area. There have been many positive ratings in our area about them, so off we went. We walked in and started asking the receptionist basic questions. She could not answer one. Definitely not a good sign. Then, she walked us to the Director’s Office. Another bad sign. Other places we had visited always had someone at the front. It should never be left unattended. When we visited the room our daughter would be in, the teacher had a room full of children without an assistant. Then, all extra classes (Spanish, Music, etc.) cost extra per month. Other schools included them in their price. Although there may be some fabulous Montessori Schools out there, I was not impressed.
In a last ditch effort to get out of putting a plan together, I visited a Christian school at a church. The security, staff, curriculum, church teachings, and outside play were all top notch. We decided to go ahead and enroll her. She lasted a day. When I picked her up, she told me of several instances that had happened; however, the teacher failed to inform me. Neither verbally or written. The school did reimburse me, which was highly unusual and much appreciated. Lesson learned on my part. Do your research. Each and every time.
Working a full-time job and trying to find the right daycare/private school can seem downright impossible. By the time you survive the working day, you have to survive the evening before plopping into your nice warm bed. A plan had to be formed or this would never get done properly. There was no way I could visit every possible school with my schedule. After searching online for a plan and coming up empty handed, I formulated my own plan to tackle finding a school for my daughter.
Word of Mouth
This is by far the best resource available to you. Coworkers, family members, church members, friends, and neighbors are prime examples. Although it may seem intrusive, you are saving yourself and child a lot of heartache by asking others. Be sure to keep a pen and pad handy so you can make a list and then look them up online.
Search for “schools near me” at google.com. You will see a map as one of your search results. Click on the map. There you will have all public and private schools for all ages in your area. This enables you to see all schools available within distance.
If you are not sure of the distance, you can go to googlemaps.com to get driving directions from your house to the school to be certain it is not too far.
If you do nothing else, do not skip this step! In Texas go to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to see the inspection results of each facility. You can also find licensed home care options at their site. Above all, research prior to sending your child anywhere. Anyone can be proper for thirty minutes. Do your due diligence for the safety of your child! Note: Google “____Family and Protective Services” for your state to find the appropriate website. Your state name goes in the blank.
You can then click on the “inspections” to get a detailed report of each inspection for the past two years. There is a detailed report of each violation. Read it. The reports are crucial! Note: A Christian private school was recommended to me. When I read the inspection reports, one of the violations was they left a child outside for an extended period of time. Automatically off my list!
Visit Each School
Once you have narrowed your list down to the final contenders, map them out. It is easier to take off one morning, afternoon, or day and visit all of them, then one each day. DO NOT make an appointment. All of them will tell you to do this; however, then they will be “prepared” prepared for you. You want to catch them off guard to see what the facility is like on any given day. Be sure to take notes and ask questions at each school. You will not remember it all. The notes will be a life saver.
This is another step to not skip. Pray over any you are unsure of. The following scripture is a great one to say before your prayer: “I lean on, trust in, and am confident in the Lord with all my heart and mind and do not rely on my own insight or understanding. In all my ways I know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He directs and makes straight and plain my paths. I am not wise in my own eyes, but I reverently fear and worship the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-7 (The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word, Joyce Meyer) Seek wisdom from your Heavenly Father and He will help guide you to the right school for your child.
Pros and Cons
If you are having a hard time choosing between a few, writing down pros and cons for each is a great way to decide which is best. You will visually see the “good” and “bad” which helps in the decision making.
Trust Your Gut
In the end, trust your gut. Within moments of walking in, you will know. Your intuition will kick in and you will know whether or not the school is the right one. Note: I made a list of the top three contenders. If the first was a flop, I went to the second one, etc. You truly do not know what is going to happen until your child goes.
Every. Single. Day. It is like pulling teeth to get my child to talk about school. Once she is home, she wants to play and has absolutely no interest in talking about her day. However, it is vital that you find a way to talk to them about school. You cannot intervene if you do not know. Note: When I was in second grade, my teacher would not let me go to the bathroom. Needless to say, I had an accident at my desk. She threatened me, along with the other students, if we told our parents. It took months, but I did finally tell them. Teach your children to respect their teacher, but if their teacher crosses boundaries, they need to let you know. It is never okay for a teacher to treat a child in such a manner. Never.
What steps did you do to find a school for your little one?Charissa