Learn About Daycare Tours

Why Tour a daycare?

Before starting care, a daycare tour can provide value by having a family meet teachers and directors in-person or via a Zoom visit. During a daycare tour, families should be able to see the indoor and outdoor learning spaces, discuss schedules and any special needs and have time to get all health and safety questions answered.

Daycare teacher wearing a mask to be safe while playing with a child at Bright Horizons

Bright Horizons is More than Daycare

Early Education & Preschool That's More Than Daycare

We know that families that need daycare for their child is faced with a big choice. After all, most parents want the best for their children. A mother finishing a first maternity leave, or a parent of a young child, is making a choice about a critical time in their child’s development, and any accurate information they can collect when making the choice is helpful. We believe it is our responsibility to protect a child's health, safety, and well-being, provide environments and experiences that capture the joys of childhood, and nurture each child’s individual development, paving the way for success in school and life. Search by zip to schedule a visit at a Bright Horizons center near you!

How to Tour a Daycare

  1. Busy parents can view the interactive tour experience below, any time day or night.
  2. Search by Zip to find a center near you to take a tour in-person or on Zoom.
  3. Let us show you what we're learning in our classrooms today!

More About Daycare Tours

Before you take a daycare tour

  1. Download a child care checklist or similar document to help organize the questions you'd like to cover at your visit
  2. Use a center locator to be sure you have the correct address if you have an in-person visit
  3. Read parent testimonials about what child care is like from their point of view
  4. Test your computer or phone's connection if you have a Zoom visit

Before visiting a daycare, a parent should communicate with the daycare facility and arrange a time to visit. It is unlikely that a daycare facility will allow surprise visits from adults. If the daycare does allow an adult to enter the area of the daycare where children are being cared for without a prior appointment, this should be considered a serious problem with the daycare. An exception is during an open house or other child care event, when parents are encouraged to visit. If the parent only wants to make sure the daycare is physically safe and environmentally age-appropriate, the visit can occur outside of the hours when children are being cared for. However, in order to see how the caregivers interact with the children in their care, it is valuable to visit during operating hours. 

A parent that is looking for child care has many sources to mine for information about local daycares. Online reviews, testimonials from parents, independent audits, even government licensing information are all critical sources of data for a conscientious parent. After a parent has narrowed down their list of child care centers, they should make sure to visit the daycare. Nothing can replace a first-hand appraisal, and a daycare tour or daycare visit could reveal things that might not show up in initial research

When a parent feels ready to visit a daycare center, they should find a center to schedule a daycare tour or look for information open houses or other daycare events. A parent should not simply show up to a daycare center and expect to get in unaccompanied. This would be a serious safety issue and if a daycare allows an adult to simply arrive and enter the premises alone, the parent should not consider having their child cared for at that location.

How a tour shows whether it is safe to send your baby to daycare

Whether you do a virtual or in-person tour, be sure to cover all health and safety concerns you have. Be sure to cover day-to-day questions about centers' policies around check-in and check-out, visits from parents and any enhanced COVID-19 health and safety protocols. You should also ask to see all indoor and outdoor learning spaces where your child will spend time. Are there age-appropriate learning spaces for all children? 

What do children do at daycare?

On a daycare tour you should get a good sense of what a typical day looks like for the children and teachers. Is there music for child development? Is there a place for pretend play? Does the staff spend time reading to babies

Understanding daycare standards and regulations

A parent should familiarize themselves with their state and local child care regulations before conducting a daycare tour. Many of these regulations can be found online through government websites. The web portals may also include licensing and inspection information, so a parent making a daycare comparison can determine whether a daycare center is responsible about following child care regulations.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) publishes guidelines of best practices in child care. The guidelines published by the NAEYC are based on extensive research into child development. A parent can look into the guidelines for the age group their child falls into and become familiar with what is considered the best standards of care for their child.

Good signs on a daycare tour

There are some good things that should pop out for a parent on a daycare tour. Parents should look for things like: no sharp corners; absent or covered power outlets; and no stairs or steep curbs. These are all signs that the facility is making sure to child-proof the physical environment. The place should be clean but not smell of cleaning solutions like bleach or turpentine, as the vapors from harsh chemicals can irritate a child’s airways.

Another easy thing to look for when visiting a daycare center is seasonal decorations. Child development experts recommend a stable day-to-day environment with some variation. The stability provides a sense of predictability and security, while the changes offer stimulation and let the child learn how to respond to new things. Seasonal decorations, a weather board, birthday celebrations, and other items are a good indication that the daycare makes sure to provide variation for the children.

If the daycare tour occurs while children are being cared for, take notice of group sizes and caregiver to child ratios. Every age group has a different ideal group size, and the range of acceptable caregiver-to-child ratios also differs. Generally, as children grow, they benefit from having more children their own age around them. The daycare’s caregiver-to-child ratio should reflect this fact. A parent should be familiar with the NAEYC guidelines for their child’s age before conducting a daycare tour.

Red flags on daycare tours

A parent should feel comfortable ruling out a daycare center based on a gut feeling alone, but there are also obvious red flags to look for. If there are exposed outlets, stairs or large drops that aren’t cordoned off, or other obvious dangers to young children, the parent should not choose that daycare.

A parent should be comfortable with how clean the daycare is when they visit. Obviously young children can create a mess quickly, but problems that indicate chronic lack of cleaning, like mold or spoiled food, are clear signs that there are problems at that daycare.

Any child care center than can't explain hiring practices or teacher training in layman's terms may be a red flag. Be sure to get an understanding how daycare teachers are hired and inspired to do their best work each and every day. Centers that do not invest in teachers may see high turnover rates which can be disruptive when children have to learn how to say goodbye to a teacher they have bonded with.

How to find the best daycare for your family

Every family is different, so there's no one-size fits all approach to finding the right daycare. Understanding how to interview a daycare provider can help make a daycare tour as productive as possible as you search for the right child care solution.
mother holding child

Get Started Today

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Or call us to start the conversation 877-624-4532

Bright Horizons is a United States–based child-care provider and is the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care. Employees looking to become a child care teacher are offered the opportunity to earn an early education degree for free as part of their corporate benefits. Search by zip to find a child care center near you. Bright Horizons Global Headquarters are in Newton, Massachusetts, USA.