What Your Daycare Provider Wishes You Knew

For most of us, daycare is a reality we’ve had to face. Choosing the right provider, deciding between in-home and a center, debating, visiting, questioning, and ultimately deciding. We drop our kids off with someone else and we do so not always as easily as we’d like.

You’re not alone.

What you may be alone in is your understanding of how a daycare works and, consequently, how it doesn’t work. I have the unique advantage of being not only a daycare provider, but a parent who has had to take her children to other providers.

And boy, did I make mistakes when my kids were enrolled in daycare! A great deal of my mistakes went completely unnoticed. But once I stepped over the threshold and into the life of a childcare provider, I learned so much and regretted so many things I had subjected my children’s providers to.

With the help of some from some other daycare providers, I’ve complied some things a lot of parents do that they don’t realize have an effect on their children’s time at a daycare.

Communication is KEY

If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it’s communication is by far the most important aspect of a daycare provider’s job. Nearly every topic in this post can be remedied by a good, healthy dose of communication. In my experience, over-communicating is infinitely better than under-communicating. So when in doubt, communicate.

Did I mention communication is important?!

Pick Ups and Drop Offs and Paydays, oh my!

When speaking with the other providers, most all of them mentioned something about pick ups/drop offs and paydays. Keeping in touch with you provider about pick up/drop off times is more important than you think. Lots of in-home providers, especially those who work alone, base their activities around certain arrival/departure times. This is where communication comes in handy. Even if you’re late by just a few minutes, let your provider know. The same goes for pay days. We all are human and understandably, payments can be forgotten. Communicate. Let your provider know when they can expect payment if you’ve forgotten or fell behind. 

Bone Up on the Handbook

Not all in-home providers have handbooks. Most centers do and some in-home providers have taken the time to compose a guide for parents to understand their daycare. Read it. Know it. Live it. Handbooks normally outline how potty training is handled, time off, definitions of “sick,” house rules, infant care, payment schedules, and other rules and regulations that could change the way you go about certain things in your day-to-day.

Special Treatment

This is a tough area. Special exceptions sometimes need to be made in order to best suite the child. But in general, some exceptions can’t always be made. It could be something as simple as allowing your child to carry a sippy cup when none of the other kids do or asking to excuse your child from time out. Providers and centers have rules for a reason. Special treatment can send mixed signals to the other kids or even the other parents. Communicating with you provider could help everyone find a work-around that benefits all parties.


Another tricky topic. As a mother who has been on both ends (a working parent and a provider), I have a unique perspective. It can be extremely challenging to step away from your job when your child gets the sniffles. I get that. As a provider, though, sometimes that’s the best course of action. Kids generally don’t want to be anywhere but home with a loved one when they’re not feeling well. Even though they may find solace in the arms of their provider, we can’t give your sick, uncomfortable, little one the time and attention they’re seeking. On top of that, you risk getting the provider and other kids sick. Illness can be nearly impossible to contain in a daycare setting. It’s best to take the time needed to nurse you’re little one back to health.

Just to link this topic back, communicate when your child isn’t quite themselves. Also, let your provider know if there others in your family who are ill. That way if symptoms pop up anywhere within the daycare, parents and families can be in the know.

Say “No” to Denim

Jeans are a daycare provider’s worst nightmare! They’re cumbersome, difficult to get on and off, rarely fit properly, and have complicated buttons/snaps. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers…there’s no exception. Jeans are the worst. Slip on athletic pants/shorts or leggings are right up our alley.

Other Things to Consider:

  • Preparedness: Supplying your provider with diapers, change of clothes, necessary outerwear (communicate to make sure your provider has all they need). Over-preparedness trumps under-preparedness.
  • Independence: When it comes to putting on their own shoes, wiping, pulling up with pants, zipping their coat, etc.
  • Clothes that fit: Aside from denim, it’s also important to put kids in clothes that fit. Sleeves or pant legs that are too long can be frustrating and hazardous. If you have to use a safety pin to ensure proper waist size, those particular bottoms shouldn’t be worn at daycare.
What suggestions did you find helpful? What would you add?

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