10 Signs of a Good Daycare

Monday, April 3, 2017 | 11:04 am

Leaving your child with a stranger for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but when you find the right person, everything in life gets easier.

To help you choose the best facility, we asked Jacqueline Goodman, owner of Goodman Family Daycare, for tips. After all, her facility has been voted Best Day Care, Best Preschool and Best Summer Camp in Pasadena for the last seven consecutive years (2010-2016).

Goodman, who has taken care of more than 600 children throughout her 30 years ago in daycare, started her business after having her own daughter and struggling to find a preschool program that stayed open past noon.

She found herself bringing home half the preschoolers for arts and crafts while other parents worked. She soon realized that she loved spending days with the kids and stopped studying law altogether.

Goodman completed her child development certificate and now, three decades later, some of her very first students are returning so she can help raise their kids—the sign of truly good daycare.

To keep families coming back, this is what she does:

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Keep them stimulated.

“Children should be learning at every moment of their lives,” says Goodman, who reads stories, sings songs or plays soft classical music to her kids.

“It’s surprising how you can teach a child almost anything through music or a song. Kids love to learn through dancing and singing.”
One of her two-year-old students “can remember all 50 states,” which Goodman proudly taught, and all of her two-year-olds, including some one-year-olds, recognize their names on flash cards already.

“It’s not healthy for a child to be in a nonstimulating environment,” adds Goodman.

In addition, she offers nature walks, cooking and baking lessons and keeps lots of “safe and creative play toys around for the children” such as play houses, musical instruments, cars, slides, bikes, dolls and boxes filled with toys as well as books.

Her children “have easy access to go pick up a book to read whenever they feel the need for some quiet, relaxing time.”

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Take field trips.

“Our program includes lots of fun and educational field trips, especially during our Summer Camp days,” says Goodman.

Some examples of where they go: the L.A. Zoo, Long Beach Aquarium, Chuck E Cheese, library or Arboretum, to name a few.

Speak their language.

“A provider should learn the language the child is speaking at their home so they can incorporate some of the words in their lessons,” says Goodman, who uses preschool vocabulary, like colors, numbers and nursery songs, in their mother tongue and says it goes a long ways toward building relationships.

“This shows you respect and value their cultures.”

At this time her program includes five languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Sign, the latter being the language most of her preschoolers learn to “speak” before they can even say words.

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Use technology.

Goodman says parents often text to let her know if they are dropping off early or picking up late or to request extra daycare hours or just check on how their child is feeling that day.

Texting “allows us to not interrupt our program’s schedule during the day with constant phone calls” and allows her to respond as soon as possible.

Goodman also uses email to share fun photos or short videos of the kids playing with their classmates during the day “to add cheer the parents’ crazy day at work.”

Her program also has a blog, Facebook page and website, which includes tuition rates and an annual calendar for holiday closures.

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Give take-home food.

Goodman realizes her families have a lot going on, whether that’s dad being away on a trip, a new baby coming or an illness or death in the family, so she tries to bring stability and extend care where she can.

“We do this by providing a homemade dinner or dessert for the parents to take home at least twice a week at no extra charge.”

She says it helps ease the stress and lets parents “just enjoy their family time after a long day at work.”

“And the child feels special by bringing home a meal to share with their mommy or daddy that they may have helped make.”

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Provide stability.

“It is not a good program if the helpers or aids are always changing. It’s important for the child to bond and know the aids and helpers in their care,” says Goodman, who always has a “backup plan” in case of illness, even though she never seems to need it.
“I am happy to say that in our Goodman Daycare program, I have never been closed due to me being sick.”

Goodman says throughout her 30 years of daycare, she’s only used family members as helpers, which includes her mom, two adult daughters, cousin and, currently, her husband of 35 years, who left his construction career because “it’s more fun working with kids.”

Likewise, she has a policy that sick kids stay home to prevent putting other children at risk.

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Keep a daily schedule.

“A good program should have a daily schedule for the kids,” says Goodman, and include regular times for meals, snacks, stories, play, crafts, nature and naps.

“But it should also be flexible” to accommodate for rain, long weekends or when the children “are extra tired or having a bad day and need extra comfort time to relax.”

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Keep them happy.

“Your child should be in a happy environment,” says Goodman. “If the provider is always happy and laughing, then your child will be happy and laughing.”

Of course, it’s understandable, she says, if a child takes a couple of weeks to adjust to a new environment and the separation anxiety that can come with it.

“But your child should never be sad when you are picking him or her up,” she says.
“Although, it is also a very good sign when your child cries because he or she doesn’t want to leave.”

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Talk to unborn babies.

“An infant in the womb can recognize a person’s voice the minute they come out of the womb,” says Goodman, who likes to talk to her potential future students while still in their mommies’ bellies.

“Hopefully, the baby in the womb will hear and recognize my voice when he or she arrives. The parents often say when the child arrives for the first time after delivery, they can see in their infant’s eyes that they recognize my voice,” laughs Goodman. “It’s adorable.”

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Bond with parents.

“It’s a good sign when the parents want to stay and share stories about their child and their day as well,” says Goodman, who is sometimes invited to be a part of the families’ home life as well, such as a child’s birthday party.

She says many times her relationship with parents continues even after their children graduate from her program.

“I have a group of alumni moms that do dates with me about once a month for dinner or a show to catch up on their families and have some laughs.”

Sound like the perfect daycare provider? Get in line. Goodman, who relies solely on word-of-mouth advertising, currently has a waiting list for newcomers.

She offers this advice, though, for those looking for a quality preschool: Get a recommendation from a friend, family member or co-worker.

“I prefer to take families that are referred to me from parents in our program or alumni families who have already been in our program. It is just as important for the provider to get good loving families that she can feel comfortable with in her home or program.”

Goodman Daycare is located at 1090 El Campo Drive in Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 298-5104 or visit www.goodmandaycare.com.

 

 

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