Choosing Childcare for your Little One

Choosing Childcare for your Little One

Choosing a childcare center for your child is a big and exciting step. It can also be a daunting one for a lot of parents as they leave their child for the first time. Whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time care it’s important to start your search early as most daycares have limited space and a waiting list. Make sure you give yourself enough time to make this decision. Here are a few pointers to look out and to guide you in your search.

Some points in this article may be specific to the Netherlands but you may still find the equivalent information in your country.


Scheduling an appointment:

Make sure you schedule an appointment in advance so you can get a chance to talk to the daycare location director and see the place first hand. Many daycares may prefer to schedule parent tours at a “quiet” time such as mealtime or when one group is napping so the teacher can talk to the parent more freely. Make a mental note of that and maybe come back again during a more active time such as outdoor or free-play time to see how the child minders handle children in an active situation. Also feel comfortable to stay as long as you wish during your tour even after the designated time to observe how the teachers interact with the children till you get all the information you need.

Does the daycare feel like a “good fit” for you and your child?

What is the atmosphere like? Is it calm and warm? Is it active and loud? What do you think would suit you and your child’s temperament more?

Is this school accredited?

Before you look any further check out if the daycare is accredited and approved. Every daycare is issued a report stating how their evaluation went. This should be posted on their website for you to view freely and if not you can always ask for their latest evaluation report.

About the child minders:

Don’t be shy to ask what the teacher qualifications are. Child minders should have a background in childcare to work with young children, does this daycare meet those qualifications? In the group your child is likely to join, ask how long has the teacher been working with children and at the center? Is he/she a full-time or part-time employee? Who else will be involved in directly looking after your child. Go ahead and spend a few minutes in their classroom to chat and get a feel for the teachers that will directly be involved with your child.

What educational philosophy does the daycare follow?

Does the daycare follow a certain educational philosophy? If so, read up on it before your visit so you know what to look for while you’re there. Have the teachers received any training specific to that educational philosophy? Is there time for reading, puzzles, free play etc.? Think about if that way of learning suits you and your child. You can read up about educational philosophies for young children here.  Bottom line is; will your child be getting the time and opportunity to experience age-appropriate play during his day?

What is the teacher-child ratio?

This is an important point to consider. Teacher-child ratios are part of preschool regulations so that each child gets enough one-on-one attention and to comply with safety guidelines.  In the Netherlands the Dutch CAO Kinderopvang 2014 (p.150) guidelines the regulations are:

At day care, the ratio between the number of professionals and the actual number of children present is at least:

a. one practitioner for every four children under the age of one year;

b. one practitioner for every five children aged one to two years;

c. one practitioner for every six children aged two to three years;

d. one practitioner for every eight children aged three to four years.”

The day program:

Is there a schedule they follow for play, rest and mealtime? Will your child get enough outdoor or rest time? What kind of meals do they serve? Is there time for free play and structured play? What kind of activities does the teacher initiate with them?

What are the discipline policies?

How do they handle discipline and misbehavior? What happens if your child hits another child or refuses to have lunch? How do they handle this and communicate these situations to parents? Discuss this openly and decide if their techniques match your parenting views and values.

Communication with parents:

What is the daycare policy on communicating with parents? Will you get a chance to speak briefly with your child’s child minder during pickup? Are parent meetings scheduled regularly for updates? In case of a minor accident or situation with your child do they inform you immediately or at the end of the day? When can you meet with your child’s teacher if you want to discuss something? Daycares should have an open door policy;  can you drop in at any time to visit and observe your child in the environment? A provider that doesn’t have an open-door policy is a red-flag. A confident and good provider will not only let you in at any time but will also invite you to be part of the daycare events and activities.



Are any of the teachers trained in first aid for young children? What is the procedure in case of an emergency? Does the daycare have a protocol to follow? What if you want someone else in the family to pick up your child?

Ask around:

Ask friends or family who go to the daycare what they think of it. Be precise in finding out what exactly they like and dislike. It’s also good to get a chance to talk to parents who have walked out of the daycare center. Walking out might mean that it just wasn’t a good fit not that there were negative reviews so it’s always important to get information first-hand.

Trust your instincts:

If what you’re hearing and seeing looks good on paper and checks all the boxes but you still don’t feel good, trust your instincts. They are telling you something isn’t right here for you and your child. You need to feel comfortable and secure wherever you leave your child and if you are anxious every day during drop-off your child will pick up on that as well.


I hope these guidelines and tips will help you choose an appropriate daycare for your child.

New Findings On Autism

New Findings On Autism

Autism is a neural disorder that is characterized by impaired social skills and communication. It is a part of a broader condition Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which also includes Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 110 children born today is autistic.

In August 2011, Time magazine ran two interesting stories on new findings regarding Autism. One story For Siblings of Autistic Kids, Risk Is Far Higher Than Thought by Bonnie Rochman covered a study conducted by University of California, Davis (UCD) Mind Institute investigated the risk of an infant with an older sibling with Autism. Researcher Sally Ozonoff found that among 664 children that were monitored in the U.S. and Canada the risk of the disorder was approximately 19 percent, significantly higher than previous beliefs of 3-10 percent.

The study showed that infant male siblings were 3 times more likely to have autism than younger girl siblings. Moreover, younger siblings with more than one older sibling with autism were almost 1.5 times more likely to have autism than those with only one older autistic sibling.

The study followed infants’ development beginning at 6-8 months till they reached 36 months, at which time they were tested for autism. Of the 664 children, 54 were diagnosed with autism and 78 were diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

The study addresses the questions many parents of autistic children have “What is the risk of my younger child being autistic?“. However, these findings should not scare parents but to make them more aware. It also highlights the importance of closely monitoring younger siblings of autistic children for early signs of autism.

The other article Autism’s Lone Wolfby Judith Warner covered interesting findings in a study by Simon Baron-Cohen et al., one of the founders in the field and director of the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge. Baron-Cohen and team hypothesized that an area that included large number of “systemizers” (people who tend to focus on controlling and building systems and how they work) might lead to a higher prevalence of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in their children. This stems from Baron-Cohen’s idea that systamizing, deficits in empathy or the capacity to experience feelings being experienced by another person, existed in Autistic people and with a lesser degree in many of their relatives. His theory was that this brain type would be common in a population that included large clusters of people with very strong science, tech or math skills.

The team investigated if ASC was more common in the (Information Technology) IT region of Eindhoven in the Netherlands than in other areas (Haarlem and Utrecht) of similar size and socioeconomic profiles that do not include similar numbers of IT companies or workers. Eindhoven includes many high end IT facilities including Eindhoven University of Technology, High Tech Campus Eindhoven which includes companies like Phillips, ASML and IBM.

Diagnostic information on  62,505 children was investigated. As the team predicted ASC seemed significanlty more prevalent in the Eindhoven region (229 per 10,000) compared to findings in Utrecht (57 per 10,00) and Haarelm (84 per 10,000). The study cautions that more follow-up research is needed to rule out factors like the possibility of increased awareness about autism in Eindhoven. Accorrding to the article “Baron-Cohen also warns strongly against drawing simple conclusions about who should or shouldn’t marry whom”.

These findings are a major step in helping us understand more about autism and it’s causes.

For Concerned Parents

Below is a list from Early Signs Inc. on red flags of Autism Spectrum Disorder to watch out for in your baby.

Impairment in Social Interaction:

  • Lack of appropriate eye gaze
  • Lack of warm, joyful expressions
  • Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
  • Lack of response to name

Impairment in Communication:

  • Lack of showing gestures
  • Lack of coordination of nonverbal communication
  • Unusual prosody (little variation in pitch, odd intonation, irregular rhythm,
    unusual voice quality)

Repetitive Behaviors & Restricted Interests:

  • Repetitive movements with objects
  • Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands, or fingers

More information on early signs and symptoms is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Autism Speaks Early Signs page.

Reading On Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorders by Chantal Sicile-Kira 
“Was the recipient of the 2005 Autism Society of America’s Outstanding Literary Book of the Year Award. A supportive and personal book that includes a detailed resource section. Practical and informative, straightforward and easy to read, the facts are illustrated throughout with quotes from people who have autism, and stories of parents’ experiences and professionals’ opinions. Geared towards the general public as well as parents and professionals, Autism Spectrum Disorders has been acclaimed as a highly accessible book by experts in the field and has become “the” handbook on autism.”
” Focuses on the challenge posed by the isolated child to teachers and classmates alike in the unique community of the classroom. It is the dramatic story of Jason-the loner and outsider-and of his ultimate triumph and homecoming into the society of his classmates. As we follow Jason’s struggle, we see that the classroom is indeed the crucible within which the young discover themselves and learn to confront new problems in their daily experience.”