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How To Choose A Child Care Center


How To Choose A Child Care Center And What Questions Should You Ask

Childcare has evolved over the past few years from play to learn, to Montessori, Reggio, High Scope or a mix of all of the above. How do you know which philosophy is right for you and your family? What do each of these philosophies represent?

Montessori: This philosophy has an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits (within the classroom, under direct supervision), and respect for a child’s natural physical, and social development.

Reggio: This philosophy is based on the theory that people form their temperament during early years of development. The objective of this approach is to teach children how to be productive in their everyday lives. The program focuses on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and stimulating environment that is based on the children’s interests. Finally, children learn through a natural environment at their own pace and based on their own “curriculum”.

High Scope: This philosophy focuses on supporting children at their current developmental level and assisting them to build upon it. Children are provided opportunities to choose materials, ideas, and people to interact with based on their initiative. The educators see themselves more as facilitators/partners.


Play to learn: This philosophy is centered on children learning through play, interacting with other children, and being active, exploring and learning new experiences. Additionally, children can learn by talking to themselves, communicating with others, meeting physical and mental challenges, being shown how to do new things, and practicing and repeating skills.

Once you have chosen a philosophy I would start to visit centers that have adopted the philosophy.

I strongly recommend that you choose a philosophy that fits your child’s personality and learning style, they are the ones who will be directly affected. If you choose a philosophy that you (the parent) like, you could be setting your child up for failure. Once you have chosen a philosophy I would start to visit centers that have adopted the philosophy.

Most first time parents have an abundance of questions when researching Childcare Centers. There are no right or wrong questions if you have a question make sure you write them down and take them with you when touring facilities. If you are not sure of what questions to ask here are several that in my experience are the top questions parents have when they come into my center inquiring about childcare.


  • What are your hours of operation?
  • Do you have current vacancies or a wait-list?
  • What is the ratio of children to daycare providers?
  • What is your philosophy?
  • What does your menu consist of, do you cook on-site or cater?
  • Are all your staff trained in first aid and CPR?
  • Do all your staff have CRC (Criminal Reference Checks)?
  • What is your sick policy?
  • When do you close?
  • What is your late policy?
  • Can I see the center?
  • How do you handle behaviour management with children?
  • What is your outdoor policy?
  • What is the staff turn over like?
  • Do you potty train children?
  • How do you transition children into your facility?
  • What is the cost?
  • What is your sunscreen policy?


Some of these questions will have a standard answer no matter what facility you visit. Each Childcare must abide by the Day Nurseries Act.

If you are searching for Infant care or know someone who will be, I would recommend that you put your child on a wait-list as soon as you discover your are pregnant. Most facilities have limited spaces for infants and their wait-lists can be up to 1 year in length.

I wish you all the best of luck in your search for a childcare that suits your family.

See here for more on child care options.

Amy Gibson BCD, RECE

Written By: Amy Gibson BCD, RECE

Amy, having earned a Bachelors Degree in Child Development, has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 10 years. First working in an infant classroom, and then moving to JK, preschool and toddlers. Currently Amy works as a Supervisor of a childcare facility in York Region.

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