The One Quality to Look For in a Daycare

My daycare deserves a big, online pat-on-the-back.

Maybe yours does, too. (Or your dayhome, or preschool, or nanny…)

For two months now, I’ve been a resident-blogging momma at a downtown daycare in Edmonton, called Early Learning Childcare. I’ve spent a good chunk of time hanging around there and have discovered what makes it special. There’s one specific quality it has — that not all daycares have.

It has to have heart. You have to feel it and see it.

So, what do I mean by Early Learning Childcare having heart?

The atmosphere. You can feel love in the air. At the front, a fish bowl will greet you. It says “Say hello to Bubbles!” The kids are warmly welcomed, given their own cubby right away, introduced to their new friends, and everyone learns their name. At first, Alex was uncomfortable. By the third visit, he didn’t want me to pick him up and riggled out of my arms to play.

Their effort to involve parents. Early Learning puts the “care” in daycare. I see them taking the time, on a regular basis, to personally connect with families.

For Father’s Day, owner Teresa planned a craft called “Building Memories with Dad.” She bought wooden boxes, had the kids each paint one, placed toy building blocks inside and glued some on top of the lid. At home, kids and dads will write an activity they did and build the blocks up. Teresa even went to the effort of printing a photo of the little ones with their papas to glue inside the lid. What a beautiful keepsake — just from one small daycare activity.

The people. The owners, Teresa and Vince, are building a strong team of caregivers, also called teachers. They have “leads” in each room. They choose only best, most amazing people for staff. Miss Reina, the lead in Alex’s toddler room, takes special time to get to know every toddler’s quirks. She knows their likes, dislikes, food preferences, favourite toys and blankets, their nap routine, and more.

She’s constantly positive — I’m in awe of what she and her team can accomplish.

The amazing new grads. Three of the teachers are brand new to the daycare — they are recent graduates of Grant MacEwan’s Early Learning and Child Care program. The kids really love these ladies. To celebrate, Teresa bought them a huge cake with “Congratulations Graduates” on top, that they and the kids shared. She got them the cutest t-shirts and “grad” headbands to wear. There was a photo (below) with a border that we could all sign — how awesome.

Their team-building and recognition. Great workplaces invest in their staff — they recognize their accomplishments and share in their celebration. The cake and the outfits is such a huge part of that. Seeing this show of love and recognition was a testament to the character of the daycare.

Their level of dedication. Childcare professionals have to have high energy, a quick eye, and an upbeat personality to do their jobs. They have to be able to multitask and meet the needs of not one — not two — but many little ones. One day, Alex had a poop just before I was about to leave. (Hah-hah)

They told me to go — that they’d change him for me, of course! I thought, wow, that’s so wonderful.

Plus, there’s more… 

The perks! This December, they’ve already planned ahead to provide a Saturday of free childcare (yes, free) for all parents and kids. This will be for parents to get Christmas shopping done. How thoughtful!

Also, for the following February, they are providing an evening of free childcare until 10:00 pm for all parents as well. If mom and dad have Valentine’s Day plans, they have free childcare. How awesome is that?

A childcare facility or dayhome can be clean, welcoming, beautifully organized, and well-run — that means it’s good — but it needs to have heart to be a good enough daycare for your little one. You need to see it and feel it.