Choosing the form of childcare that works best for your family is one of the most important decisions parents make. Not only do you have to figure out what works logistically and financially for you, but you also have to decipher who you can trust with your precious tiny humans.
My family has chosen daycare and we love it. While working at a daycare center for 3 years, I was able to bring my two kids along with me. Now that I work elsewhere, I still send my son to the same daycare and my school-aged daughter goes to before and after care at a different center.
Daycare, in general, sometimes gets a bad rap. We have all witnessed some form of media attention about less than ideal occurrences at a daycare. We can’t be blind to it but I look at it like this: I have also heard about shark attacks in the news. I know a lot of people who go to the beach, but I don’t personally know anyone who has suffered from a shark attack. So why not shed some light on the good things that many daycares offer and clear up a some common misconceptions?
A daycare is more than just a building with germs and snotty noses and broken toys (thanks Toy Story 3). It is a vital part of my village and a place I can depend on. I feel confident that my children are adequately taken care of and that lessens my mental load while I work each day. I know that they will feed my children, allow them to use the restroom, stimulate their little minds, and let them stretch their legs outside while getting some vitamin D. I am confident that their needs are being met in my absence and I chalk that up to the grown-ups inside that building.
The staff is more than just babysitters. They are teachers and they devote time and attention to each kid. They teach my children letters, numbers, colors, how to use scissors and glue, how to tie shoes, and on and on. They are able to build upon the things that I teach my children – and at home I can build upon the things that they have taught my children. Many of them are mothers as well, so I appreciate the motherly instincts that they have to offer. Whether they are mothers or not, they know my kids. They know my kids well. The teachers notice when my son is acting grouchy from fighting his sleep the night before or if my sensitive daughter gets her feelings hurt by a friend. This whole daycare thing thrives on teamwork between the parents, teachers, and kiddos.
The children are more than just numbers and spots to fill on a roll. Daycare is where many of the kids learn how to socially interact with their first little friends. Each child has something to contribute, whether it is helping one another learn to share or working through a mini-scuffle. If you see a class walking in line through the center, they are not like a herd of cattle rounded up from one place to another. They know what is going on, they keep to a schedule, and they thrive on a routine. I appreciate all the other kids and like that my children have playmates and built-in friends throughout the day.
Will daycare experiences always be perfect ? No, but that is life. Here are some things to keep in mind when you want to feel negative about a situation but need to keep a glass-half-full kind of view:
- Will your kid get hurt at some point at daycare? YES, but they also hurt themselves elsewhere, even at home. They are learning how to navigate this world without falling completely apart.
- Will your child hurt another child at some point? YES, but I guarantee you they have also hurt their sibling, the dog, or even you from time to time. Once again, it is a learning process.
- Will your child get into trouble? YES, but I am sure you have put him or her in time out a time or two as well. Don’t spite someone who is trying to help you discipline the little angel just because you feel bad!
- Will you at some point feel slighted about something? YES, and that is because we all have to live in this crazy world and everyone is not going to happy all the time (regardless of who is right in the situation). Communicate with the teacher or the director and they will probably be happy to help resolve the issue. They don’t want you to be unhappy either. Remember that whole team work thing from earlier?!
Above all else, you know your own family best. Even though I love daycare and think it can be really great, you need to do what is best for your family. Choose the childcare that makes you feel comfortable, whether that is a parent staying at home with the children, a family member, a babysitter, a nanny, a church pre-school, a daycare, or something completely different.
If you are a fellow daycare fan, what are some of the things you love about it?