Choosing a daycare is worse than rocket science

This week I made the decision to take out my daughter from her old daycare and move her entirely to the new one (I said “I” but I did consult hubby too – he trusts my judgment on this – the house “is” a democracy – ahem — sometimes).

It saddens me a bit given that she’s been with her old daycare for almost three years now, but I think it’s time to move on.

The decision-making process was quite difficult. At least with rocket science, facts are facts and have no need for emotion. Choosing a daycare requires a lot more than checking out the facilities and the program. It also requires being sensitive to what your child is saying and not saying.

I decided to put her in two different centres after I spoke with some of the parents from her old daycare who moved their kids to the new daycare.

I’ve thought about it since last year after MiniMe’s carer left her old daycare for the new daycare. She spoke to me honestly about the situation and why she’s moving. It didn’t have anything to do with how the centre handles kids, it was just a personal decision because the old centre couldn’t meet her need for extra hours.

But the problem after that was that the carer turnover became too often for my comfort. I could sense that most of the new staff were just there for work, not really connecting with the children. It became worse after more staff members left and new ones were pulled in.

So I put her in the new daycare where her old carer now works to see if she liked the place. The first day she went there, her old carer greeted her like she was her long lost grand daughter. I almost cried. You can’t fake sincerity like that and I saw the connection even after they haven’t seen each other for months.

I knew she was always more excited to go to her new daycare rather than her old daycare. Everytime I mentioned she was going to her old daycare, she would frown. But I brushed it aside, thinking the novelty of the new centre hasn’t worn off yet.

But now it’s already more than two months since she started her new school and the excitement is still there. What really did it for me was when we parked outside her old daycare for the morning drop off and she burst into tears after seeing it wasn’t her new school. She refused to get out of the car and it was a long struggle before she finally went in. That was the first time in over three years that she’s done that. She didn’t cry inside after I left but still it cemented the decision. I’ve wanted to move her to her new school for quite some time now, but MiniMe made the decision clearer for me.

The funny thing is that her new school isn’t even new. It’s not fancy or modern. It’s “old school”. It’s familiar. It makes me nostalgic even if I didn’t grow up in the country. It also makes me feel better that the last time someone left the new centre was six years ago – when the old owner sold it to the new owner. The staff has been there for over eight years.

I had several conversations with friends, trying to figure things out, asking about their own experiences. It’s good to get the wisdom of other mothers in situations like this.

I’ve also decided not to put MiniMe through pre-school. I know this is another hot topic of debate for parents but I’m not going to get into it. The new school runs a proper pre-school program for kids in the right age, even if they’re officially a daycare. If my daughter didn’t like this setup, she would have told me. But she is excited everytime we go there and doesn’t want to go home everytime I pick her up. Good signs.

Choosing daycares for kids should be as easy as rocket science. But it isn’t. Sometimes I think you need a blue ribbon committee to help you make these decisions.


  1. says

    I know what you mean. When I had to choose a daycare for my girl it was tough. She has a disability which adds another layer of poo to deal with. I went to a few daycares, checked out the staff etc. I went with a daycare that one of my friends worked at that was in the same suburb as us and things have been great. The kids treat her with respect and the teachers all love her and get excited when new things are happening. If the change feels right for both of you, I say do it.

  2. says

    I changed Miss Possum’s kindy (we call it kindy) last year when the twinkles came along. I was so worried because she’d been at her old one for three years and moving to a different kindy meant ANOTHER big change in her life (having twin sister should have been enough). She coped so well and it was because of a wonderful carer she had. Now we drive past on days she isn’t in kindy and she points and says “there’s my new kindy mum, Hi Miss Boe”. It makes me happy to know she is happy and I think that’s what matters. Like you said it’s not the kindy furnishings or how modern it is, it’s genuine carers and a happy child.
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  3. says

    We are very fortunate to have a brilliant centre that incorporates pre-school too. I know moving kids around can be inevitable for all sorts of reasons, but it’s also nice when they can get some stability in a nurturing and secure environment. Sounds like you’ve made the right choice.
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