Here are a few questions to ask when you are considering signing your child up for an activity.
Are the Staff educated in what they will be teaching?
First off, education. The staff should be good at what they teach but should also have a solid background on the topic as well. I once saw an ad for another local gymnastics club employment opportunity that read “No experience necessary.” That is a red flag for me. At Gymfinity we hire the person who can be a great teacher and we develop and add to the knowledge that they already have. This helps them become an excellent teacher with a deeper knowledge and guarantees us the best staff because we started with a good foundation. The person working with your child is the direct experience for that child. Going to a place with standard or sub-standard expectations for staff will almost always give you standard or sub-standard experiences.
Is the staff certified in anyway?
To avoid unscrupulous people working with our children several organizations have developed great certification and education programs. For example, USA-Gymnastics has the cutting edge education program for its members. They provide certifying programs in First Aid and Safety courses. J Orkowski, Gymfinity’s Owner has been the safety educator for USA-G for 10 years. All team coaches and senior staff are safety certified through USA-G too. Most of our instructors continue their education via in-house training and clinics. Many staff are also CPR certified. In this day and age, it is imperative that we feel safe when we leave our children with someone. Most professional organizations (include sports leagues, child care businesses and other child centered program, as opposed to babysitters and moms clubs that share child care) have the ability to do background checks and reviews on their staff and anyone that comes into contact with your child. At Gymfinity we run 10 year background checks on every eligible employee. There is no reason that other places cannot offer the same security.
Can I be sure that the staff will care for my child?
The best way to be sure that someone will care for your child is to trust them. Go from the first “gut” reaction and get information after that. Check with other clients informally. I’ve even stopped parents heading to their cars in the parking lot at places where my son goe sand asked questions. Also, another indicator is the maintenance and care of the facility. If the grounds and building seem to be well tended, then most likely the people are cared for as well. It shows that caring what is provided usually correlates with who provides it.
Is the facility clean, inviting and positive?
Ask questions about how often the play areas are cleaned or sanitized. Find out if an occasional sweep is the cleaning regimen or if there is a more in-depth program of guaranteeing a safe place for your kids. See also #3
How long have they been there?
Not in that place, but how long have they been in business. Has it been long enough to work out any bugs in their systems? Do they have any experience? A local place opened up promising gymnastics, dance and music. It was run by a women trained as a CPA. What credibility did she afford her hobby/project/business? How could anyone honestly think that her franchise would effectively teach this curriculum? It couldn’t. She’s gone. But the point remains, how much experience do they have?
What type of “business” do they run?
Do they see themselves as providing a service to children or as a business? Granted we are all in the same “business” but sometimes national chains are constricted by corporate policy as opposed to businesses run by people right here, who know you, know your children and develop their program with that in mind. It’s like the age old argument about Wal-Mart. Does the corporate giant provide better product than the local store? Or just by sheer volume and deeper pockets do they get you to think they might? In reality the quality is in the local store but the price is on the side of the giant. When it comes to child care and activities, the national chains usually have the higher price (and profit margin) but the quality still hangs with the locals.
Next time, I’ll have a few more ideas to help parents make good choices for their children’s activities.