Here are the top 10 things you should look out for that will indicate if a childcare centre is not up to standard for you to entrust to take care of your precious daughter or son.
1. Poor cleanliness and hygiene
Are there food stains and crumbs along the floor? Is there excessive dust collecting on the shelves? Are the toys in bad shape and feel sticky to the touch? Is the playground covered in a thick layer of dirt and mould? Do the bathrooms smell bad?
These are all clear indicators that this is a bad childcare centre and it needs to step up its cleaning standard and level of hygiene.
If the place is dirty and unkept, this can cause germs to easily spread and may be an indication that the childcare centre is not following the Infection Control Guidelines for Schools and Child Care Centres set by the Ministry of Heath.
2. Bad reputation
Ask around for other people's opinion and feedback about the preschool of your choice to see what the word is on the street.
You can also check out reviews online from parents in various forums, or post your questions there to gather more information.
If the general consensus is that the place is no good, then this is probably a red flag and you should do a little bit more research about the centre's credentials and reputation.
3. No clear curriculum
If you can't make head or tail of what exactly is being taught to your child every week, or what exactly the core curriculum includes, then this is another warning sign.
You don't want to send your child to a preschool that has no proper plan about what the learning goals are for the year or are clueless about what the children will do on a daily basis to occupy their time.
According to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) a child care licence will only be given to centres that adequately meet requirements on not only physical environment, safety, health, hygiene, nutrition, staff training, and administration - but on programme and curriculum as well.
4. Lack of rules
Preschool should be fun and not so daunting as young children are still getting used to a classroom environment and following a daily schedule.
So regulations need to be set in order for your child to learn the difference between right and wrong.
Age-appropriate rules will also help children to understand that their actions have consequences and that the teachers have set these rules to prevent them from getting hurt or causing hurt to others.
5. Kids get sick often or have frequent injuries
Kids will be kids and they are bound to get a few bumps and bruises here and there every now and then - and according to Dr David S. Geller M.D. kids will pass infections easily to one another in group settings (such as a childcare centre).
Although it is very common for young children to have frequent infections during the first year or two of attending a childcare centre, if your little one and her schoolmates are constantly falling sick or getting injuries on a regular basis, you may want to make sure that the centre practices good hygiene, as recommended by the National Environment Agency.
6. Not enough manpower
If the childcare teacher is also the centre's cook, cleaner and bus driver, then she probably is stretched too thin.
Make sure that the centre does not have a shortage of qualified staff and that the teachers don't look exhausted or overworked.
You want to leave your child in the care of someone who is not too burnt out or frazzled to even function properly.
7. Your child does not like it there
The best person to ask whether or not the childcare centre is a good fit for him, is actually your own child.
Although it is normal for young children to experience some separation anxiety, if he refuses to go to preschool every single day, is constantly in tears about having to go there and is still crying when you pick him up after school, or even verbally tells you that he does not like it there, this is when you should stop and listen to him carefully to find out what the root of the problem is.
8. Safety concerns
When you go down to the centre for a short tour, keep an eye out for any safety issues which may pose to be a hazard to small children.
Electrical outlets should not be exposed, cleaning supplies and toxic materials should be kept out of children's reach, there should be clear fire exit routes, and toys should be age-appropriate and in good condition with no sharp broken parts.
A good childcare centre should also always have an emergency kit on standby, a list of emergency contacts handy and ensure that all safety measures have been implemented, as recommended by the ECDA.
9. Lack of communication
As a parent, you will always be thinking about your child all the time and it's almost impossible not to worry about him when he's in preschool as you wonder what exactly he's up to.
So it's important that there is effective communication between parents and the centre, and that they are honest with you should any problems arise.
There shouldn't be any problems either when trying to get in touch with the school or scheduling a meeting with the teacher or principal to discuss any concerns you may have.
10. Staff with attitude problems
If you are greeted by cold stares from the staff at a childcare centre, receive snappy remarks, see the teachers barking at the kids with a total look of contempt or even handling a child roughly, then this is not a good sign, and perhaps it is a sign of a bad childcare centre.
Sure, teachers are humans too and it is not an easy job to take care of young children, but if the staff are not warm and caring towards the little ones in their centre and are potentially bullying or abusing their own students, then you definitely may want to cross this place off your list.
What else do you think is a clear sign of a bad childcare centre? Tell us by leaving a comment below.