Choosing a daycare for your child is one of the hardest decisions you’ll face in your baby’s first couple of years.
With so many choices, not to mention alternative options like nannies, in-home daycare, and more — how can you possibly decide?
You want a daycare that feels like a home away from home to your child, but you also want the experience of going to daycare to be an enriching and safe one.
If you’ve been doing your research, you’ve probably heard of a school called Kindercare.
Is Kindercare worth it? Here’s a full review.
Kindercare schools have been around a longtime and have a time-tested curriculum. They also have a knack for hiring and keeping some of the absolute best staff around. Like most chain daycares, however, you can expect Kindercare to be pretty expensive and sometimes parents have been known to have billing disputes with management.
Let’s take a closer look at the curriculum, day-to-day, pros, cons, and more!
What is Kindercare?
Kindercare is the largest privately-owned daycare center franchise in the nation.
They offer flexible full-time and part-time childcare for 6-week-olds all the way up to 12-year-olds.
Kindercare was founded in 1969 in Montgomery, Alabama, in response to a growing number of women entering the workforce. Since then, it acquired other childcare brands and changed ownership.
It is now based out of Portland, Oregon, and currently operates over 1,500 centers in over 40 states, including over 500 before- and after-school programs.
When it comes to accreditations, Kindercare has you covered.
They claim they are the most accredited daycare company in the nation. Most of their schools are accredited by one or more of these national accreditations:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC)
- National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
Kindercare seeks to have all of their centers accredited at some point, but the timeline is not specified on their website.
The company stands out with all these accreditation, making sure their teachers are not just warm-and-fuzzy caregivers, but also educators that will set your child up for success in school.
Kindercare Teaching Philosophy Explained
Kindercare states on their website that they put education first, even for the youngest of their children.
They believe that a whole child is a happy child, and they seek to educate the children under their care to excel mentally, emotionally, physically, as well as intellectually.
They have curated their own curriculum and refine it regularly to keep it up to standard.
Their curriculum is inspired by the Waldorf and Montessori methods, but its biggest influence is the Reggio Emilia method.
This means that Kindercare emphasizes learning in nature, STEM-based activities, leaves room for independent play, and also takes a child-directed approach.
While at Kindercare, your child is encouraged to discover new things, and gently reinforced in order to solidify learning in the focus areas.
Also, your child is given the opportunity to choose their own learning path, and given some responsibility where appropriate.
Teachers take note of how each child learns and seek to create an environment where they will learn best, giving each kid a customized experience based on their strengths and weaknesses.
In addition to this, your child will always be respected for their ideas and what they create.
Kindercare Day To Day Procedures/Typical Day
So what happens when you sign your baby, infant, or toddler up for Kindercare and drop them off?
A Typical Day for Infants
Kindercare staff understand that an infant’s schedule changes all the time, and no two babies have the same exact schedule.
That’s why childcare in this stage is not as concrete. The staff at Kindercare do their best to follow your baby’s schedule.
To add a little bit of structure to the day, though, there are a few activities that happen.
According to their website, after your baby arrives, he or she will engage in some sort of group time, then one-on-one time with a teacher, as well as outdoor play.
Teachers support your infant’s developmental stages, whether it’s talking, crawling, or walking.
The curriculum meets babies at their level, helping them practice problem solving and exploring the world around them.
A Typical Day for Kids 1+
Once your child moves out of the infant stage, they are ready for the next phases of Kindercare.
There are 5 phases total:
- Toddler (1-2)
- Discovery Preschool (2)
- Preschool (3-4)
- PreKindergarten (4-5)
- and Kindergarten (5-6)
These stages gradually have more and more structure.
(Learn more about preschool vs daycare here.)
All stages start with breakfast and/or a healthy morning snack (if your child already ate at home) after drop-off.
After that, there’s group time where the group of children listen to the teacher talk about the day ahead, with discussion. Then there’s usually singing or reading time.
Before lunch, children move to activity centers. Here they work individually or in groups on a project related to the theme of the day. After that, there’s outside play time.
After lunch, all the kids have rest time. Even if your child doesn’t sleep, they have quiet activities like drawing or looking at books lined out. When rest time is over, kids have another healthy snack and go back to activity centers.
Next there’s another outdoor time, followed by focus activity time for toddlers and group time for the older-aged kids. By the time that’s all said and done, it’s time for parents to pick up their kids.
For kids 2 years and up, a portfolio is kept for each child. This contains photos and other sorts of documentation to show individual growth.
Twice a year, parents meet with teachers in a conference to discuss progress or things that need improvement.
There’s a Kindercare app as well where you can see photos throughout the day and view the Daily Report made by your kid’s teachers.
Drop-off and Pick-up
Dropping off and picking up your child at Kindercare is fairly straightforward.
When you do either of these things, you will sign in or out your child using a paper roster or some sort of computer program.
Drop off starts at about 6 am, and you can pick up your child between about 4 pm and 6 pm. Center hours differ across the board.
When you sign your child or children up for Kindercare, you can expect to sign an Enrollment Agreement. Part of this document allows certain individuals to pick up your child. Only people on that document are able to pick up your child.
Meals and Snacks
Mealtime is learning time at Kindercare. A dietitian has curated the meals to be healthy and well-rounded, while avoiding certain food allergens.
The kids eat “family style” by first setting the large, round table and practicing manners while passing food around.
Although the foods like chicken biryani and lo mein noodles may seem adventurous to most kids, the teachers do a great job presenting the foods in a desirable fashion.
Kids usually have no problem at least trying these foods, and an alternative will be provided if they will not eat it.
For infants, meals revolve around the baby’s individual rhythm. They can be fed moms expressed breastmilk or formula, whatever your preference is. Moms are always welcome to come by to breastfeed their baby, too.
(Learn more about food and mealtime at daycare.)
Odds and Ends
The teacher to child ratio is not specified, but Kindercare ensures that they are low and are in accordance with state regulations.
Kindercare charges parents weekly for full-timers and part-timers. That means you will not get refunded for missed days for any reason.
In the case that your child misses a whole week, you may get that week discounted.
Kindercare Tuition Examples
Like most large-scale daycares, the tuition at Kindercare is not posted publicly online. However, if you are interested in knowing what the tuition is for a specific Kindercare center that you have in mind, you can always call and ask.
Though we can’t give you the exact tuition for Kindercare, from what we can find out online, most centers charge around $150-$450 per week.
Rates depend on how old your child is and where you live in the country. If you live somewhere where the cost of living is high, you can expect to pay more for childcare as well.
Infants will be more expensive to send, while older kids will be less expensive.
One reviewer reported they were paying $360 a week in 2019, and another reviewer said they paid $490 a week in 2021.
What Real Parents Are Saying About Kindercare Schools
“The main takeaway… is that this place is full of wonderful staff and my son loves it here. He always comes home and talks about everything he’s learned and can’t wait to come back- he insists on being there for as much of the day as he can be.” -Dana P., real Yelp review
Reviewers consistently call out specific teachers that they love in their reviews.
The staff at Kindercare, in general, seem to form a special connection with each child, which helps children adjust to the new normal and want to keep coming back.
“They are very strict in following the rules for COVID-19, Taking the temperature every day, disinfecting the toys, and the teachers wearing masks all day, which made me feel very safe to leave the children with them.” -Anna, real Google review
Many Kindercare centers are praised for their cleanliness, especially in our post-pandemic world. The centers seem to take the CDC guidance for masking, sanitizing, and distancing very seriously.
“The teachers are incredibly caring and send wonderful pictures and notes.” -Jessica, real Google review
“We love the portal where we can view daily activities or they can send messages at any time.” -Krissy, real Google review
Parents all over love to get frequent updates from their child’s teachers.
When you send your child to Kindercare, you can get photo and video updates throughout the day, as well as a report on how many diaper changes they had and when they happened, as well as the feeding and napping schedules they followed.
High Teacher to Child Ratio
“Kindercare is all about the money too many kids not enough staff not enough teachers.” Gena S., real Yelp review
“They were also adding a 5th child to a room with one adult. Not legal… not ok.” -Danielle, real Google review
Some Kindercare reviews were poor because of staffing issues. According to some people, there weren’t enough teachers to watch all the children at certain Kindercare centers. Some reviewers complained that teachers that were there were inattentive.
“They have a horrible billing system that charges way more than agreed upon.” -Angel, real Google review
“They always sending me incorrect payment notice. In total I got 5 payment notices and 4 of them are wrong.” -Snow, real Yelp review
Several people cited billing issues in their negative Kindercare reviews. Some of this was caused by the company being a large corporate entity, with parents waiting on managers who were waiting for approval from people higher-up to issue certain refunds.
Kindercare, as a large-scale childcare company, is held to a higher standard with lots of accreditations and a variety of programs.
This can also be a downside, though, as some branches may slip through the cracks when it comes to quality.
The TL;DR here is that, when selecting the right daycare for your kid or kids, you ultimately need to go with your gut.
Go check out the place for yourself, meet the staff, and take advantage of any freebies they may have (Kindercare lets your kids go one day for free).
After this initial assessment, you will have a good or bad feeling about the daycare. It’s good to trust your instincts here. Check reviews for your local center, and you will have a good idea on quality.
If you have other questions about Kindercare, be sure to check out their website and Kindercare family handbook.
For more guides and reviews, check out:
- The best national daycare chains
- Primrose Schools review
- Bright Horizons review
- Creative World Schools review
- Goddard school reviews
Hope this helps!