Whether you're heading back to work or just need a little time for yourself a few times per week, choosing a daycare for your child can seem nerve-wracking. While you want your child to have a positive experience, you also want to ensure that the daycare staff offers proper discipline and development practices in the facility. Knowing what each daycare offers as far as amenities and activities are concerned and comparing child-rearing philosophies can help you separate the daycares that you love from those you'd rather not use. A little homework goes a long way in ensuring that a daycare is compatible with your parenting skills and will be an enjoyable experience for your child.

Daily activities: One thing that you should always ask about when considering a daycare is the daily activities planned for the children. Some daycares embrace a more abstract play philosophy by allowing children to play at will, while others have a more structured schedule. The one that's right for your child should be the one that most closely mimics your own parenting philosophies. When you keep a tight schedule at home, the prospect of hours of free play could be confusing to your child and vice versa. Ensure that you approve of a daycare's use of daily activities and compare them against what your child is normally used to doing on a daily basis.

Surveillance and care: If you don't know the workers at a daycare, you might be understandably wary of leaving your child in a stranger's care. However, there's a good chance that you won't know any of the daycare employees, which is why proper surveillance is necessary when comparing daycare options. Some daycares use a nanny cam system to ensure that the children are being cared for properly. Look not only for a daycare that uses a nanny cam system, but also for one that allows parents to view the footage from that nanny cam at any given time. A daycare that has no surveillance or requires notice before allowing parents to view the footage might be suspicious, especially if proper surveillance is high on your list of must-haves.

Disciplinary tactics: Are you a lax parent or are you more of a disciplinarian? No matter how you decide to parent, it's important that you choose a daycare that offers disciplinary tactics that are similar to your own. This helps create a stable environment for children who understand expectations in daycare and at home. If you're a more laid-back parent, you don't want a daycare where children are punished for certain behaviors. Similarly, if you employ time-outs and other disciplinary tactics, don't place your child in a daycare without a proper disciplinary policy. Know exactly how your children will be treated if they misbehave.

There's a lot to be said about a parent's gut instincts when it comes to choosing a daycare, but you also need hard evidence. By knowing a daycare's schedule, nanny cam policy and disciplinary tactics, you can choose a daycare that is compatible with your parenting style and your child's temperament.

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