Unscheduled Visits

Plan Unscheduled Visits to Your Child Care Provider

Like the majority of parents, your main exposure to your child’s early childhood learning program is most likely during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. Have you ever dropped by unexpectedly? If not, you should plan to do so one day to see how the program is running when parents are not around. Checking up on your child’s care can put your mind at ease about the time she spends away from you, as well as provide you with information to any problems she may be experiencing.

Hopefully, when you do show up for an unscheduled visit your child’s caregiver greets your warmly. If that is not the case and you feel unwelcome, be sure to stop by again at a later date to see if maybe your child’s provider was having a bad day. If the caregiver dissuades you from just dropping in, schedule a meeting to talk about why parents are discouraged to visit during the day. Not being welcome at the child care program during the hours between drop-off and pick-up could be a warning sign you do not want to ignore.


  • Stop-in before a scheduled feeding time so that you can feed your baby yourself, and see how these transitions work when you are not there.
  • Being away from your baby can be hard. Drop-in for a visit at your baby’s program to put your mind at ease and grab some cuddle time.
  • While nap time can be hectic for a visit, try stopping in a few minutes after it has started. You can ensure that your child is sleeping on his back and check other procedures.

AGE 1 TO 2

  • By making a few surprise visits at your toddler’s child care program during the year, you will know better how the program operates.
  • Drop in at lunch time with some fruit or cookies for the child care teachers, and share lunch time with your child. Get to know her friends better while seeing what is being served.
  • How does your child care provider greet you when you drop-in unscheduled? Is it with joy or alarm?

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Unscheduled visits to a child care program offer you a peek into how it runs even when they are not “parent ready.”
  • Mark your calendar for a visit during story time or centers. You may be able to pick up some early literacy skill building activities for home.
  • You can stop by for a visit without disrupting the class or your child’s activities. Just let the child care provider know that you wanted a peek into your child’s day and monitor what she is doing through a window or while the class is playing outside.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Surprise your three-year-old one day for lunch! It’ll make him happy and give you a chance to see how things work when you are not there.
  • Stop by for a visit to understand better how your child spends her day and get a feel for the activities she is doing.
  • Unscheduled visits help you determine if your child is receiving the care you expect.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • Your child can tell you much about his day, especially if you ask the right questions. Drop-in occasionally to check that all is well and to help you connect more with your child when talking about his day.
  • It can be bittersweet when children love their providers so much they do not want to leave at the end of the day. If your child has a rapid change of heart and no longer wants to go to child care, stop in to see what has changed or is happening that might be influencing these feelings.
  • If a child care center does not encourage parent visits during the day, talk with the provider about why this is. Parents should feel as comfortable and loved in the child care program as the children are, and welcomed to take part.