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Not Just Child’s Play: Daycare decisions

Published June 17. 2019 11:43AM

What goes through the mind of a working mom as she drops her child off at a day care facility?

It’s probably a slew of mixed emotions — fear, guilt, worry, and if we are being honest, maybe even a temporary sense of relief.

The ability to interact with other adults and feel productive instead of changing diapers and dealing with tantrums has its appeal.

However, without doubt, emotions will always circle back to the former. Finding a facility that puts those stressors at ease is a game changer.

Entrusting someone else to care for and, therefore, help raise your children is one of the most significant decisions most working parents have to make. The most common denominator in parenting is wanting what’s best for your children, so the decision on a day care provider is critical. There are so many factors to consider: what’s the culture of the facility?

How crowded is it? What services do they offer? What are the other children like? What’s the staff to child ratio? Can I afford the cost? And that’s just a partial list.

If you are lucky, there will be several options to choose from in your area, but, that’s not always a possibility for all parents.

When there are several choices, finding one that checks off most of, if not all, the boxes you need is easier.

But it’s important that parents are picky and try not to compromise.

When taking into account the options that are most important, you must not only consider your values and beliefs, but the personality of your child must also be factored in. When you have more than one child that needs day care at the same time, this can present complicating variables, for sure.

Your children may have very different personalities. Despite their best efforts to cater to all personalities, the culture of any particular day care center may be better equipped to benefit one personality style over another.

In that case, you will probably have to consider how adaptable your children are and select in favor of the one who would struggle to adapt more. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t expect that all children must learn to adapt, because they do. It’s one of the most important life skills a person can learn in order to function in a society.

For many children, day care centers provide their first real exposure to such an environment. With the mix of life circumstances and personalities day care brings together, the integrated atmosphere a day care center provides is an excellent classroom for learning adaptation skills.

For many children the centers provide their first real experience in having to not only share the toys and resources available, but also the attention of the adults supervising and teaching them.

It’s important for parents to keep this in mind as they seek out a center because finding the “perfect match” may be determined just as much by the adaptability of their child or children as much as it is any of factors the center controls.

The most significant factors, then, are the same as we would expect from any educational setting. We want a stable, caring environment where the individual needs of our children are taken into consideration and balanced with the needs of all children.

We also want an educational environment that will help our children prepare for school while teaching and reinforcing the societal norms and values that are necessary for being a productive and cooperative member of society.

Fortunately, these goals align with the educational and cultural goals of most child day care providers. And the very best ones are staffed with people who love kids and want to see them thrive. When you find that magical mix, you can be assured you’ve put your children in the very best of hands.

Jennifer Lobasso is a teacher and a children’s author. She lives in Lehighton. Have a topic for her to address? Send comments to tneditor@tnonline.com.

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