The very first choice you'll be faced with is "in-home" or "daycare center?" A couple of things to consider when you are making this choice:
Daycare Centers Pros:
1. Always open, never closed for sick days. If one teacher is sick, daycare centers can reshuffle providers for the day. Reliability is super important.
2. Accountability. You'll never have to worry about your provider doing something you aren't aware of because most rooms have multiple teachers.
3. Most daycare centers are fairly structured and have lots of planned activities.
4. Many centers require their lead teachers to have additional childcare education.
Daycare Center Cons:
1. Pricey. Really, really pricey. Like the largest bill after our mortgage, pricey.
2. Can seem institutional or a little "cold-hearted" at times.
3. Often there are long waiting lists to get in. For example, I called one center about 10 months out from when we would need care and they laughed at me. That was a harsh wake-up call.
4. Large masses of children in one place.
In-home Daycare Pros:
1. Much more affordable.
2. Smaller numbers, therefore more personalized attention.
3. Much more of a relaxed "home" environment.
4. Often in-home providers are more flexible about schedules, food, naps, etc.
In-home Daycare Cons:
1. Sick days. If your provider or any of their family gets sick, you are stuck scrambling to find someone to fill in at the last minute. Or you are stuck taking an unplanned vacation day. Not cool.
2. No real accountability of the provider because they are typically the only adult there. Trust becomes very important.
3. Because you are sharing space between "home" and "daycare," space can sometimes be limited.
4. This can be true, but it's mostly dependent on your provider: less varied activities or field trips because of less adult manpower.
5. It's often times hard to find in-home providers. A lot of the searching is done by word of mouth, craigslist, care.com and facebook.
These are just some of the things we considered when we were looking for childcare for Lucan. Check back next week for the types of things we've asked when interviewing in-home providers!