Early Education

Moving to Atlanta? Here’s Your Childcare Checklist

Local Primrose School franchise owners share what you need to know when selecting a daycare in the metro area

June marks eight years since Jim and Francie Towey opened Primrose School of Sprayberry and Primrose School at Macland Pointe, both located in Cobb County. The childcare facilities serve children from infants to 12 years old.

“Primrose schools consistently deliver a high-quality early learning experience, from the balanced learning curriculum that nurtures children’s intellectual, creative, physical and social-emotional development, to the classroom environment and partnership with parents,” Francie Towey says. “It was the only early education option that we felt truly set children up for success in school and beyond.”

She says that children and families experience the best there is at their schools; and that aside from the exclusive curriculum that is carefully developed for each classroom, Primrose strives to wow parents every day and have created a real sense of community among families.

“For example, in January we provide take-home dinners to our parents as part of Parent Appreciation Week. We do breakfast-to-go monthly and offer a fresh warm serving of chocolate cookies every week,” Towey says. “There are social events and charity events that bring everyone together. And our partnership with parents is really important to us, so we have a variety of tools to keep them informed of what’s happening in the classroom and to help extend learning at home.”

In addition, their schools surpass state licensing requirements in every area, including teacher/child ratios, health and safety practices, and CPR certification. Children are served nutritious meals through the “Balanced Menus” program, and Primrose was the first early education organization to achieve the AdvancED accreditation for its schools. “Though this is not required at the preschool level, it ensures we are always held to the highest standards of quality by a reputable third party,” Towey says.

Anyone who is new to the area and looking for child care, Towey says, should first talk to the people they will work with, neighbors or friends. She suggests finding out what recommendations they may have based on the factors that are important to a parent or guardian. “You can also look online to see what’s in your area and to find options that fit the approach you’re looking for. Once you have a list of options, the best way to get a sense of how you feel about a preschool or childcare provider is to visit them,” she says.

In addition to evaluating how you and your child are greeted during a visit, how the children are interacting in the classroom and how the teachers are engaging with the children in the classroom, she suggests asking the following questions:

  •  What is the teacher/child ratio?
  •  Is the curriculum developed by teachers or experts?
  •  What is the menu? Is it included in tuition? Is there a full-time chef?
  •  How are children with allergies accommodated?
  •  How often do the children wash their hands?
  •  What is the illness policy?
  •  How is the school kept clean? How is classroom equipment kept clean?
  •  How many managers are there?
  •  How do you communicate with parents and caregivers?
  •  What is the hiring process for teachers and staff?
  •  What safety policies are in place? Is there a formal plan in case of emergencies?

“When touring a childcare facility, parents and caregivers should also pay attention to how the staff is interacting with the children,” Towey adds. “Are the children engaged? Does the school look and smell clean? Do the teachers greet you when you walk into the classroom? Do the children seem happy? Are the teachers organized? Are the classrooms in order?

“There should be no one sitting down unless the children are also sitting down. Ask to see the playgrounds — the staff on the playgrounds should be strategically located so they can see and attend to the children playing (this prevents accidents and injuries). Also, parents and caregivers can look at the state licensing website to see what the licensing reports say about the facility.”

And it’s important to review several childcare options so that anyone new to the area can make comparisons and feel confident in the decision they end up making, Towey concludes. “Looking at all of the possibilities can also help you narrow down the factors that are most important to you.”