Choosing the Right Day Care

Essentially there are three important considerations that you need to look at:

  • a caregiver who will provide your child with care and guidance,
  • a setting that keeps your child safe and healthy, and
  • suitable activities to help your child develop mentally, physically, socially and emotionally.

Regardless of where you send your child, the onus is on you to inspect the facilities and to hold the day care centre accountable for your child’s safety and health. You should check to ensure that the centre’s cleanliness, practices, and child management style/policy are in line with your expectations.

Other factors to include the number of children at the centre and whether your child will receive enough individual attention. The checklist below provides a few more factors that you can take into account in your search for a suitable day care for your little one.

Fact: Childcare centres in Malaysia are categorised into home-based and institutional-based centres. The former receives less than 10 children, while the latter receives more than 10 children.

First impression

  • Is the Centre licensed or registered with the Department of Social Welfare (JKM)?
  • Is the atmosphere warm and positive?
  • Are there any outstanding violations?
  • Can you visit your child at the centre anytime it is open?
  • Are visitors screened (their identification checked)?
  • Is prior written consent needed if another person (other than yourself) were to pick up your child?
  • What happens if you need to pick up your child late?
  • Is there a plan for contacting families in times of emergency?

Who will care for my child?

  • Are there enough staff members to give attention to all the children? Child to minder ratio for:
    Babies, 3:1
    Children below 2, 5:1
    Children 3-4, 10:1
  • What are the qualifications (training and experience) of the staff at the centre? Have they attended the Kursus Asas Asuhan Kanak-kanak (mandatory for JKM approval)?
  • Are the staff trained in CPR and first aid?
  • How does the staff interact with the children (warm, caring and loving)?

Will my child be safe, healthy and thrive here?

  • Are the toys, equipment and furniture safe and age-appropriate?
  • Does this place encourage creativity and age-appropriate independence?
  • Is the Centre child-proofed (electrical outlets covered, cleaning supplies and medicines locked up)?
  • Do the staff (and children) wash hands often (before eating and after using the washroom)?
  • How is guidance and discipline handled? What happens when children hit, bite or bully?
  • Does the outdoor play area seem safe?
  • What are the rules when a child is ill?
  • How is rest time handled?
  • Will TV or computer games be used?
  • Is there a schedule for indoor and outdoor activities as well as individual and group activities?
  • Are the activities holistic? (They should include development of emotional, social, language, cognitive, and physical activity)
  • In case my child refuses to take an afternoon nap, what will my child be doing?

What will my child eat?

  • Is there a menu on display? Do they serve the food according to this menu whenever you visit your child?
  • Does the centre provide meals and snacks or is that the parents’ responsibility?
  • Are the snacks/meals provided by the Centre balanced and nutritious?
  • How are allergies, religious/cultural restrictions, and special diets accommodated?

This list is intended as a basic guide to help you shortlist which day care centre you want to send your child to. Tick the priority criteria on the checklist that are most important to you and your child, and ask the caregivers about them when you visit the day care centre.

If you have additional questions that you want to cover, be sure to include them as well. Take notes if necessary; this may prove useful when making comparisons before you make a decision on which day care centre to send your child to.

Lastly, keep in mind that day care centres are not substitutes for raising your child; you should always know what is going on with your child and take the necessary steps to ensure his/her safety.

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