Top 5 Tips to Selecting a Nursery School or Daycare - Part 1

This blog post was originally published on July 16, 2013

One of the most frequent questions parents ask me is how to select a good nursery school or daycare for their little ones. Trusting and placing your children in the care of individuals who are complete strangers to you (at first), is one of the hardest decisions to make. Aside from the basic necessities, not all parents know what to look for in a daycare in the same way educators do when deciding whether it’s a good quality center for them to work in or not. For a parent, a center may look very pretty and you’ll certainly receive many smiles throughout your nursery tour – they want your business, remember? However, there are ways to walk into a space for the first time and feel confident in your detection skills. In this two-part series, I’ll be sharing the top 5 tips that’ll help you make a better decision!

  1. Art! Who’s doing it?

One of the first things nursery directors point out is the art hanging on their center’s walls. This is one of the easiest ways of knowing whether kids can create on their own art with/without adults’ interference because the center needs it to look “perfect” for parents. Do they all look like identical copies of each other? Do you think 2 or 3 year old children are capable of doing such accurate work? Once inside the classroom, are the art easels within reach? Are they spotless or stained and look as though kids are allowed to use them?

  1. Nutrition

In some centers, food is offered as part of the program. What kind of selection do they provide the children? Is it a healthy variety Do they offer chips and chocolates on a regular basis as “snacks”? Is there a list of children’s allergies in each classroom or in the dining area? What kinds of eating habits are they helping you instill in your little ones? Are the kids able to eat at their own pace or forced to speed up to finish within a certain time frame? Do kids learn to eat on their own or are they literally spoon-fed? (Yes, I’ve sadly seen this happen)

  1. Safety

I was once told by a daycare owner in Beirut, Lebanon, that first aid is not a teacher requirement but an added “plus” to attract more parents to a center, since there’s a nurse on staff. Regardless of a country’s regulations, this is a very dangerous practice to follow, as accidents happen in a second. In the time it takes to call a nurse from another room, a child’s safety can be severely compromised. All educators working with children should have a valid first aid certificate (getting one yourself is always a good idea!). Are the first aid, medicine, and cleaning products’ cabinets out of the reach of children? What’s the building’s condition (cleanliness, mold, broken stairs, etc…)? Are electricity sockets covered?

Although we can certainly discuss each of those points in further detail, stay tuned for part two next week! Until then, with18 in Mind, put on your detective hat and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and demand better childcare at your nursery school or daycare!

Happy parenting,


N.B.: 18 in Mind is a blog about the day your kids turn 18 and the parenting years in between!