While there have been many downsides to the global pandemic, one convenience that has been born is the growing availability of virtual experiences and services. In the child care industry, many have started offering virtual tours in lieu of bringing parents and children into the facility in person. Whether you’re unable to personally visit a child care facility due to coronavirus precautions or another reason, I recently asked Sharon Lytwynec, Senior Vice President of Operations at Kiddie Academy® Education Child Care, to provide some suggestions on how to get the most out of a virtual tour and she says, “It is absolutely possible to research, tour, and select a child care option for your children without going in person. It’s a little unconventional, but as with many things we’ve experienced and had to pivot during the pandemic, it’s becoming more sophisticated and seamless. Right now, it’s the new normal at most of our Academies.”
What to Look for during a Virtual Tour
Is there a personalized connection? Does the person hosting the virtual tour make an effort to engage with you and customize the tour to address you and your family’s unique needs? Does the tour feel like a stock tour that could be given to anyone? The answers may help you get a feel for what your overall experience as a customer will be like.
- The person hosting your virtual tour should try to make a personal connection with and learn what’s most important to you and what your expectations are so that they can speak to that during the tour.
- The child care center’s representative shouldn’t simply list off all of the features of their school. Instead, they should find out what’s most important to you and focus on that.
- They should use your name and your child’s name throughout the tour.
- The director or owner of the center should follow up with you after the tour concludes to ensure all your questions were addresses and answer any lingering questions you may have after the fact.
Important Points to Remember
- It’s important to pay attention to the professional appearance of anyone that is introduced during the tour. Does it look like they made an effort to impress you?
- Did everyone that was speaking during the virtual tour make eye contact? Even though it’s virtual doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be looking into the camera when speaking.
- Were they on time? Ideally, someone from the center would be logged on before anyone else joins so they can greet new-comers.
- Were you introduced to your child(ren)’s potential teacher during the virtual tour?
- Are they receptive to your child(ren) joining the virtual meeting? You can tell a lot about someone by how they interact with your child(ren). This is also a good opportunity for your child(ren) to meet their teacher(s) for the first time, which can help with the possible first-day jitters.
Virtual Tour Tips
Try to schedule a virtual tour during normal business hours and ask to take a sneak peek in the classroom(s) your child(ren) would be in. It’s much easier to get an idea of whether the children are actively engaged in learning or not. Even better—try to schedule a virtual tour during mealtimes and transition periods such as drop-off and pick up. Even though these times tend to be more chaotic, it’s a great way to see how the school is implementing enhanced safety protocols around COVID-19.
It’s also crucial to ask what type of training and operational changes were made around COVID-19 and make sure you and your family are comfortable with these changes. Look for evidence during the tour that those enhanced health and safety protocols are happening and effective.
- At Kiddie Academy® Educational Child Care, we made our COVID-19 recommendations available to the public for full transparency and to encourage other providers to borrow and practice what we know to be the best operating procedures during this time.
As with all video calls, it’s important to do a dry run on the platform and ensure there are no snags in the process and internet connection is strong. This will avoid precious time being spent on troubleshooting and instead focus on the tour.
Finally, ask for current customer references. Incorporating a fellow parent’s opinions and answers to your questions may help you make the best decision for your family.