Daycare center #1 was housed on the grounds of a Catholic church. I carefully inquired before we went as to the religious content of the school and was reassured that it was secular in every way. What we did not expect was the level of orthodoxy, not in religion, but in the Montessori method. Now there are many ways of interpreting the teaching of Maria Montessori, but in this school it meant no toys (only “work”), no cuddling (“we want them to be independent so they won’t grow up to be drug addicts, criminals, or obese”) and no color on the walls or furnishings. While it wasn’t dirty or scary or creepy, it was not the kind of place I wanted to leave my little girl. The expensive car (vanity plate “school”) in director’s parking spot also didn’t help.
Daycare centers #2, #3, and #4 were quite a wide range of experiences. We saw them all on the same day, so it was quite easy to see the differences. #2 was not bad at all. In fact, I think it’s my top pick so far. It is a strict Montessori, but very clean, bright, and even elegant. It also had the benefit of being extremely close to my work which would make me feel so much better about leaving her if I know we are very near each other. The downside of this school is mainly potty training. They require it, and our girl will not even be two and half by the time she has to start. Dicey to say the least.
Daycare #3 was fine. Pretty much everything about it was fine but not wonderful. The littlest kids were housed in a smallish room with a reasonable number of activities sprinkled around. The teachers were friendly, and all the teachers had been with the school for many years (the best feature in my opinion). It was a little shabby, a little drab, and the outdoor play area was downright sad. Aside from that, the biggest downside is that this school runs on a school year schedule, but not the same schedule as my school. This means that there could be whole weeks where her school was on vacation while mine was still in session.