Family Essentials®

How to Choose Child Care When You Can’t Tour

December 22, 2020

Posted in: Parenting


One convenience born out of the pandemic is the growing availability of virtual tours. Whether you’re unable to personally visit a child care facility because of coronavirus precautions or any other reasons, many Kiddie Academy locations and other child care facilities now provide you with the opportunity to take a guided video walkthrough.

We recently asked Sharon Lytwynec, the Vice President of Operations at Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care, to provide us with some suggestions on how you can get the most out of a virtual tour. Here’s what Sharon had to say:

You absolutely can research, tour and select a child care option for your children without going in person. It’s a little unconventional, but as with many things we’ve experienced and had to pivot on during the pandemic, it’s becoming more sophisticated and seamless. And though we completely understand that choosing child care was a serious and weighty decision even without the restrictions of COVID-19 to contend with, rest-assured early childhood educators understand what parents are going through and will make every attempt to be supportive and answer all your questions.

What to Look for During a Virtual Tour

Is there a personal connection? Does the person hosting the virtual tour make an effort to engage with you and customize the tour to address you and your family’s needs? Or does the tour feel like a stock tour that could be given to anyone? The answer may help you get a feel for what your overall experience as a customer will be like.

  • The person hosting your virtual tour should try to make a personal connection with you and find out what’s most important to you and what your expectations are, so they can speak to that on the tour.
  • The child care center’s representative shouldn’t simply list off all the features of their school. They should find out what’s important to you and focus there.
  • They should use your name and your child’s name throughout the tour.
  • The director or owner of the center should follow up with you after the tour is over – to make sure all your questions were addressed and to answer any questions you may have had after the fact.

Pay attention to the professional appearance of anyone you’re introduced to during the tour. Does it look like they made an effort to impress you?

Did the people you talked with make eye contact? Just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be looking into the camera when talking to you.

Were they on time? Ideally, someone from the center would be logged in before you so they can greet you when you log on.

Were you introduced you to your child(ren)’s potential teacher during the virtual tour?

Are they receptive to your child(ren) joining the virtual meeting? You can tell a lot about someone by how they interact with your child(ren). This is also a good opportunity for your child(ren) to meet their teacher(s) for the first time, which can help with the first-day jitters.

Tour Tips

Try to schedule a virtual tour during normal business hours and ask to take a peek in the classroom(s) your child(ren) would be in. You can get an idea of whether the children are actively engaged in learning or not. Even better – try to schedule a virtual tour during mealtimes and transition periods (drop-off and pickup). Even though these times tend to be more chaotic, it’s a great way to see how the school is implementing enhanced safety protocols around COVID-19.

Speaking of which… Make sure to ask what type of training and operational changes were made around COVID-19 and make sure you and your family are comfortable with these changes. Look for evidence during the tour that those enhanced health and safety protocols are happening.

Make sure you are comfortable with the virtual platform the host will be using. Conducting a practice run and making sure you can get logged in will eliminate any time spent making sure both parties can communicate effectively. Also make sure that the internet connection is stable where you are taking the call to avoid any screen freezing or buffering.

Finally, ask for current customer references. You can ask any questions of a parent that you may not have felt comfortable asking during the virtual tour.

Thanks for the great advice, Sharon!


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