We’re in the midst of trying to choose a daycare for Emma for when the 2nd kid arrives. It’s been a pretty confusing process for me. I wish there were more reviews for daycares kind of like how Yelp is for restaurants. Here are some tips I’ve discovered along the way.
1. There is no “best” kind of daycare. From the many people I’ve talked to including educators, they say you should know the personality of your own child and find the best daycare that suits their personality and a place where they can thrive.
2. There are 2 main philosophies – play-based and academic. Within that, there are more specific approaches such as Montesorri, Waldorf, etc. Some even blend the 2 philosophies.
Play-based: most preschools use this philosophy, children choose activities based on their current interests, classrooms are usually broken up into sections (home or kitchen, science area, water table, reading nook, space with blocks and other toys, or other areas). Kids are encouraged to play and to develop social skills and cooperation among their peers.
Academic: more teacher-led, more structured, and aimed at preparing kids for the kindergarten setting. Classroom time is devoted to learning letters and sounds, shapes and colors, telling time, and other skills.
Huntington Beach seems to have a plethora of Montessori options. Since I’ve heard such good things about Montessori, I’ve really been looking into those schools a bit more. Here’s a little bit more info about Montessori:
I find that Montessori is a mix of the 2 above philosophies. It seems to be a bit more academic focused than other preschools but is also very child centered. Children will learn at their own pace and the classes are more age mixed allowing for children to stay with the same teacher for longer and to develop a close relationship with them as well as leadership skills and independence mixing with both older and younger children. There is a lot of structure, quiet time, and independent work.
3. Other things to consider: size of class, student:teacher ratio, what kind of activities are offered, what is the focus on reading, assess the teachers and staff, how much play-time is offered, how are parents involved and how is everything communicated to parents, how are emotional and disciplinary issues resolved, accreditations, class schedule, safety, and referrals.
Since Emma is a very timid, shy girl who craves schedule and structure I thought it would be best if she was in a Montessori environment. It turns out of the schools we looked at, My First Montessori, had the best ratio. For Emma’s age when she would be starting (age 2), we have the choice of putting her in a classroom with a ratio of 1:6 or 1:8. I like that she can learn at her own pace so if she turns out to be bright she won’t be “held” back by her peers (we can only hope, right? hehe). When we visited the school, it did seem to be a calm environment which I know Emma would do much better at. She gets easily scared with loud noises and aggressive kids. So you can see why I was drawn to a Montessori school. Lastly, we had a friend of a friend that goes to this specific school and highly recommends it!
Some other notable schools in this area you might want to look into if you are interested in other styles of preschool/daycare:
Brightstar Learning Center – My husband’s brother sent his son here and recommends it. Good reviews and good ratio (1:8) but the price was higher than what we wanted to pay for.
Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley – We have several friends that send their kids here and it comes highly recommended. If their ratio was smaller (1:12), we would have definitely considered sending Emma here. It is play-based and very well-kept and clean.
There are also a few popular Montessori schools in HB/FV like Le Port and Fountain Valley Montessori. We visited one of the Le Port schools and was completely turned off by the teacher. She ignored us to the point where we just left because it was getting awkward not being acknowledged!
If you’d like more information about the school we will probably send Emma to, check out their website:
My First Montessori
19118 Brookhurst St
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
What preschools or daycare do you send your kids to? We are not putting Emma in for a few months so we still have time to explore more options and change our minds!