When is it time to switch daycares?

Anne Halsall March 26, 2019

Just when you thought you found the perfect daycare for your child, warning signs begin to pop up. Your child makes a fuss when getting ready to leave for daycare in the morning and comes home upset more often than not. Or perhaps you’ve noticed things that could be done better at the daycare, but you’ve been ignoring them. When do you know it’s time to find a new daycare?

  Children at play

After talking to the daycare provider about your child’s problems, things haven’t changed

There are a number of ways to help your child if they’re having problems at daycare. Talking to the teacher is sometimes necessary to get to the root of an issue and work towards a solution together. If you had to take that step, you should have begun to see gradual improvement in your child’s mood and behavior. Some issues can take longer to sort out than others but if you feel that things have not improved, it may be time to check in with the teacher again. If the teacher insists that they have made changes or ignores your concerns, you and your child may benefit from another daycare who prioritizes action and good communication.

You visited the center and saw a few red flags

When touring a potential daycare, it’s easy to miss a red flag or two in favor of the positives. Some daycares make sure everything is in tiptop shape and teachers are on their very best behavior if they are expecting a visit from potential parents. Drop by unannounced and take a peek into the classroom. Is the environment about the same as when you initially toured the center?

Some red flags might include:

  • Dirty or unsafe areas
  • Several children unattended
  • Children seem upset or lethargic, rather than happy and stimulated by activities
  • Teachers seem overwhelmed and tired

If the daycare seems to want to avoid unscheduled visits, that’s another red flag.

The center’s rules have changed, but you weren’t notified

Maybe the staff-to-child ratio has changed due to an increase in enrollment or previously approved activities were cut, like outdoor playtime or walks to the nearby park. Or the food and snacks served have changed dramatically due to budget cuts or supply issues. Small operational changes can be expected, but if the daycare fails to tell you or if a lot of big changes take place all at once that may be a warning sign that the daycare is in trouble.

Also, one thing at a daycare should be changing every so often: the toys and materials used for activities. Kids need variety and change to remain stimulated. Playing with the same toys and doing the same activities won’t encourage a child’s development. If the center doesn’t routinely offer new safe, age-appropriate toys, that’s a good sign it’s time to move on.

It just isn’t working out, and your instincts tell you it’s time to change

Quality childcare can be expensive. If your daycare’s fees are too high for your budget, it might be best to find a more affordable option. Take your commute into account, too. Your family may have to wake up too early or it’s out of the way on your route to work. A new daycare that is closer to your home or job will cut down on dropoff and pickup time, as well as time spent commuting.

Even if you’re not experiencing these warning signs, don’t ignore a gut feeling that tells you it’s time for a new daycare. If you’re thinking about finding a new daycare, be sure to talk to your child about it. Visit the new daycare once or twice as a test to make sure you and your child are happy with it. It will be a big transition for them too, so it benefits the whole family to make it as smooth as possible.

Looking for new daycares in your area? Our daycare search can help.



Anne Halsall

Anne Halsall

Anne Halsall is the Chief Product Officer (CPO) and co-founder of Winnie. Anne is a product designer & developer with a background in knowledge systems & consumer technology. She has two boys and resides in San Francisco.

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