What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?

Most parents and guardians will agree that finding a high-quality daycare is extremely important for their children. Kids must be encouraged to grow, learn, and develop – especially at a young age. With so many different options out there, how can you ensure that your daycare will offer the features that are most important to parents?

Five essential characteristics will be evident in any high-quality daycare. These characteristics include a clean and safe environment, reputable accreditation and/or qualifications, a stimulating environment, enough caregivers, and a flexible schedule.

Keep reading for more detail on how to make sure your daycare can cover these five areas.

Clean and Safe Environment 

A clean and safe environment is essential in a daycare – especially a high-quality one. Things can get messy pretty quickly with a bunch of children running around, so it’s important to follow guidelines that will reduce both the spread of germs and the chances of a safety incident occurring.

First, here are a few steps you can follow to keep the environment clean:

  • Make sure the children in your daycare practice good hygiene, which includes activities like washing hands after using the restroom
  • Disinfect, sanitize, and wash items (with safe products) frequently
  • Vacuum frequently
  • Have a designated spot for dirty toys and other items
  • Create a cleaning schedule that you can check off daily to ensure no steps are missed

Applying these cleaning tips will get you started with keeping a clean daycare for the children you watch. Cleanliness in your daycare will help prevent the spread of sickness and other ailments among your little ones.

What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?

Next, here are a few steps you can follow to keep your daycare safe:

  • Childproof dangerous areas of the space, which can include outlets, windows, shelving, etc.
  • Prohibit running in crowded spaces
  • Make sure that heavy items, like furniture, are secured in place
  • Maintain carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Create an evacuation plan
  • Know which trained professionals you will call in case of emergency

Keeping children who are under your care safe should be the main priority of a high-quality daycare. These suggestions will get you started, but it’s important to do thorough research on safety procedures before opening your business. Parents and guardians will want to know everything you’re doing to guarantee the safety of their children.

Reputable Accreditation/Qualifications

This factor will vary greatly depending on what type of daycare you plan to open. Aside from traditional preschool, there are two main types of daycares: a daycare center and an in-home daycare. 

If you want to open a private daycare center outside of the home, this will require more formal accreditations than an in-home daycare.  It’s extremely important to do your research on what licensing standards you need to meet before officially opening a childcare facility. Accreditations and licensing can vary greatly by a specific state. 

What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?If you run an in-home daycare, you likely will not need to meet the same accreditation/licensing standards that are required for a traditional daycare center; however, it’s still just as important to do the appropriate research to meet all requirements of your state.

No matter what is legally required for your facility, the highest quality daycares will go above and beyond the bare minimum. Obtaining certain accreditations and licenses that aren’t required of you will automatically advance your daycare business beyond others that have not done the same. Additionally, making it a priority to hire staff that has proven experience with children and/or education will put you even further ahead in terms of quality. 

Remember, the goal of every excellent daycare is to give children the best experience possible while ensuring that parents can feel fully confident in their abilities. Gathering the most qualified staff, along with the best accreditations possible, is a fantastic start to achieving this goal.

Stimulating Environment

Now that we’ve covered the basics of a high-quality daycare (cleanliness, safety, and licensing), let’s talk about the fun part! A positive, stimulating environment is a fundamental feature of a high-quality daycare – but you can also use this area to set your business apart from others.

A stimulating environment for children can be accomplished in a lot of different ways. No matter how you include them in your daycare, some of the most meaningful stimulators include colors, textures, room for physical activity, books, and educational toys/activities.What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?

Let’s look at a few examples of how these features can be incorporated into your business.

Example 1: Arts & Crafts

Breaking out the paintbrushes is a great way to encourage creativity in children. Allowing kids to express themselves by coming up with ideas and making their designs is both stimulating and fun. When their masterpieces are complete, you can hang them at eye level so the children can see their work displayed while keeping them exposed to the bright colors they used while painting.

Example 2: Moving Around

Giving kids safe spaces to climb and explore is an excellent method to stimulate their minds and bodies. An innovative way to do this without buying additional equipment is to use couch cushions on the floor, or cardboard boxes/other materials for forts. 

Example 3: Reading Time

Providing access to a wide variety of books and having dedicated time for reading is another activity that encourages healthy growth and development. Showing children that reading is fun is a concept every high-quality daycare should practice. Make sure that books of all different lengths and genres are made available.

There are so many feasible methods that can be used to create engaging, educational, and exciting surroundings for kids. Don’t forget that the clearest giveaway of a high-quality daycare with a stimulating environment is happy children! 

Enough Caregivers

Now, imagine all of the above examples. You have kids practicing their art, moving all around the space, and reading in a quiet area. How are you keeping track of all of them at once?

To have a high-quality daycare, your business must be appropriately staffed. If you don’t have enough caregivers to provide each child with the unique attention they may need, you probably need more staff – or fewer children. When selecting a daycare, this ratio is a serious factor that parents and guardians will be observing before allowing their children into your care.

If you’re unsure about whether or not your daycare will be staffed appropriately, there are many resources regarding the rules, regulations, and recommendations for childcare ratios. If you’ve checked your state’s policy and you are meeting general recommendations, it’s still a good rule of thumb to aim for the lowest staff-to-child ratio you possibly can.

What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?

Wondering how to find good employees? Check out our article HERE.

Flexible Schedule

The highest quality daycares often offer a flexible schedule that aims to accommodate most families. The term “flexible schedule” can take on a few different meanings, each of which is important in meeting parent/guardian needs.

First, a high-quality daycare should be flexible by offering care throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening. A daycare that is open only from the hours of 9 is to 2 pm probably won’t accommodate most families. Ensuring that hours extend from before traditional work hours until after traditional work hours is a best practice.

Second, a high-quality daycare is flexible with drop-off and pick-up times. Yes, it is expected that if a child is supposed to be picked up at 4 pm, they will be picked up at 4 pm; however, parents/guardians will appreciate a daycare provider that is understanding of occasional changes, such as work meetings running later than expected.

Finally, a high-quality daycare is flexible with weekly scheduling needs. For example, a family may need care for their child one day per week, five days per week, or anywhere in between. Being able to accommodate the unique needs of specific families is a very desirable quality in a daycare. 

You’ve now learned about all five essential characteristics of a high-quality daycare! It’s time to start thinking about how your business will follow these guidelines. The most important thing to remember is that clear communication between both parties (provider and parent/guardian) is essential in keeping everyone safe and happy. By utilizing these tips, you – and the families you serve – can feel confident in your daycare!

Related Questions

How can I best communicate with the parents and guardians of the children in my daycare?

Communication with parents/guardians is a top priority for daycare providers. You should be able to contact someone at any time in case of emergency (and vice versa). Before taking on a new child, make sure that you have all the appropriate phone numbers for each parent/guardian of that child. This includes home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, work phone numbers, and email addresses.

Do daycares provide meals to children?

Yes, as a daycare provider, you should be able to provide the appropriate meals to children depending on when they are in your care. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks should be available to any child who needs them.

What should I do if there is an accident at my daycare?

The most important things you can do are to document the incident and be honest and communicative with the parent/guardian. After providing transparency about the incident, answer any questions the family may have for you. Then continue to maintain a clean, safe, and appropriately staffed environment.

What Are the Five Essential Characteristics of a High-Quality Daycare?


Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.

To learn more on how to start your own daycare checkout my startup course and documents here.