Shining Stars Childcare, Hamden
May 2014. Shining Stars may be Hamden’s best-kept secret. We sent our oldest child there as an infant; our second has been attending since she was 4 months old. Shining Stars is perfect for parents who are looking for an environment that feels like home. The cozy house has been modified to serve as a dedicated child care facility; this is not an in-home daycare, but it has the feel of one.
We like it for several reasons. First and foremost: the staff. The two directors are terrific – warm, organized, completely reliable. One of them is always there; most days both of them are there. There is also a preschool teacher and a part-time staff member who comes several days a week. There are thus four staff members; three of them are always there on a given day for the 12 kids who attend. That ratio can’t be beat – it’s at least 1 to 4 for all the age groups. The staff works together and the kids know all four of them.
The second pro is reliability. We were initially concerned that with such a small group of teachers, we might end up with unknown subs, or there might be problems if a staff member can’t make it. In our three years with Shining Stars, this has never happened. Unlike other daycares, where you can find that your child has been shifted to another room temporarily because of ratios or teachers are moved about to cover absences, there are no unexpected staffing changes. My daughter can expect to see the same loving faces each time she arrives. They also do not close very often, which is a big plus for working mothers.
Third, we appreciate the amount of informal feedback we get. There is always time for a quick chat about what our baby has been doing, in addition to the information they track on daily activity sheets.
Fourth, we like the opportunity our daughter has to mix with kids of other ages. There are dedicated infant, toddler, and preschool rooms, and the infant room has soft climbers for those learning to crawl and walk. But the kids also gather together at drop-off and pick up in the front room, and they often have lunch together in the kitchen. Our daughter loves to watch the “big kids” and has learned a lot from spending time with 2 and 3 year olds.
Fifth, the directors are very particular about cleanliness. They wash out bottles and food containers before they send them back and they keep the space spotless. That’s a small thing, but my experience with other places has since shown me not to expect this and it is a definite perk.
Sixth, the price is very reasonable, less expensive than a lot of centers.
Ultimately, the main pro for us is how comfortable and happy our baby is there. She is delighted to arrive at daycare. Upon arrival, a staff member immediately takes and holds the babies while they adjust to the surroundings. I can’t say enough good things about how wonderful they are with babies – they hold them a lot, play with them, and rock them to sleep as needed. This is not the kind of place where a baby is put in a device like a swing or bouncer and left to occupy herself. At times, our infant has had trouble staying asleep due to teething or an ear infection, and a staff member has rocked her for a long time to allow her to nap. I feel very confident in the care they provide.
Cons: the main one is that the outdoor space in the backyard is not usable when there is snow, and so in practice, the children rarely play outside in the winter or when the weather is not great. For a baby, this is not a problem, but it can be an issue for 2 and 3 year olds. AL, parent
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