How to find the best Home Daycare Provider

You want the best for your child with a provider who can recognize your child’s needs.  Finding that person can be a huge undertaking.  You want to make sure you recognize the best when you see it.

The childcare provider’s personality and experience are important aspects of finding the best daycare for your child.  The caregiver needs to be able to recognize children’s unique needs and respond to them in a positive manner.  Early childhood education certification and experience in the field are two ways providers learn how to recognize and respond positively to children’s needs.  Some people have a natural gift and they are able to react well to a child without years and years of experience.  I would suggest asking a caregiver questions that center around two different areas of expertise.  The first area is their perspective on what makes a child tick and the second area is the caregiver’s knowledge of the developmental phases in childhood.

A Caregiver’s Perspective
It is important to ask a caregiver some searching questions to figure out how they innately view children as young people.  A caregiver’s perspective on what motivates a child’s behaviour is key to understanding the way the caregiver will respond to your child.  There seems to be two camps, generally speaking, in the world of childcare.  One camp believes that children’s behaviour is driven by a self serving need to satisfy their own agenda.  Children live in a world where they put themselves first and behave in a mischievous way for their own entertainment.

The second camp believes that children are inherantly altruistic and their behaviour is driven by a need to connect with others around them.  Children live in a world where they experience life through their own perspective and actively try out different behaviours to seek new information and be acknowledged.

The best caregivers believe that children are naturally good.  They view the child’s behaviour through a positive lens.  A child may be displaying challenging behaviours and need guidance but the true personality of the child is composed of positive attributes.  Every personality trait can be viewed both positively and negatively.  One person may view a certain behaviour pattern as negative while a different person may view the same behaviour pattern as positive. For example, stubborn could also be viewed as persistant, hyperactive/adventurous, chatterbox/friendly, perfectionist/meticulous, reserved/thoughtful, etc.  Wouldn’t you prefer your child to spend their days with a caregiver who views their natural personality traits as positive attributes.

Knowledge of Developmental Phases

Knowledge of developmental phases can be learned through taking Early Childhood Education courses, reading books, attending lectures, as well as hands on experience.  Ideally, your childcare provider would possesss a vast amount of knowledge through structured education and through direct experience.  You can ask a caregiver to tell you about the typical developmental phases according to the age of your child.  Ask them what stage your child is in now and what are some of the characteristics of the next phase.

A child is focused on learning new skills at each phase and is naturally drawn to certain activities that aid that learning phase.  For example, you have probably witnessed your child moving through the walking phase.  Your child felt a natural desire to learn how to walk and therefore used whatever they had around them to help them in this endeavour.  You watched as the stage began, with your child standing up holding onto a table.  Then, because you as the parent recognized and knew about the walking stage, you then assisted your child with the next step.  You probably held their hands for support as they practiced walking around.

Eventually they let go of one hand and discovered how to balance and walk using only one hand for support.  Then one day, they let go of your hand and took their first steps independently.  As their parent, with knowledge of the stages they would go through in their quest to walk alone, you probably helped them at each stage.

You gave them a chair or table to hang onto while they practiced standing. You gave them a chance to practice walking in barefeet or flexible shoes when they walked holding onto your hands and finally when they walked alone, you probably encouraged them to walk on flat level ground in the beginning.

Knowledge of your child’s needs makes acquiring the walking skills easier and less frustrating for your child. If you didn’t know the stages of learning how to walk, you might have let them walk around in rubber boots that were two sizes too big.  Your child probably would have still learned how to walk independently but the process would have taken longer and they would have expereinced more frustration.

The walking phase is a very obvious phase in a child’s development.  Your child is continously going through stages as they grow and a caregiver that possesses knowledge of these stages will be able to help both your child and yourself recognize helpful ways to approach each stage.  Growing up is easier with the right support at the right time.  Parenting is also easier with the right support at the right time.

Here are a few sample questions to ask a caregiver to discover their perspective on children and their knowledge of childhood phases.

– I have witnessed that sometimes children act out or don’t follow directions.  Hypothetically speaking, if you ask a child to put their shoes on and they don’t, what is the most common reason for that child to not comply with the request.  In other words, can you explain why the child isn’t listening?

– What types of strategies do you use to make sure all your daycare children are  _______________ (ex: wearing shoes so that they can play outside?)

– How do you handle a situation when a child is ___________(insert the current area that you are experiencing difficulty in).

– How would you describe a child who _________(insert a behavioiur such as….has a lot to say, or physically moves around a great deal, or doesn’t talk much, or stands their ground, etc.)

– What is a common phase of a ______year old child?  What types of activities does a child at that age enjoy?  What are they naturally learning or curious about at that age?  What are their cognitive abilities during this phase?  What can I do or how can I help my child during this phase?

A childcare provider that believes children’s behaviour is motivated by good intentions and one that understands the unique phases and stages of childhood is invaluable.  Observe how your caregiver interacts with your child, listens to your child and responds.  These observations will make your daycare decision easier.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful insights you have here. It is really not easy to find the one that would best fit the needs of your child. With the variety around, it is simply hard to choose.