I spend a lot of time talking to other childcare providers. Or, more honestly, eavesdropping on other childcare providers while at childcare workshops. And yes, they complain about parents. This shouldn't come as a shock. Parents pay the fees, so they are technically the employers. And what hardworking citizens don't complain about their bosses from time to time? Here's what they're saying to you in their re-imagined conversations with you when they actually have the girl-balls to say it.
1. Your kid needs a nap.This is how it starts: one parent asks if their kid can skip naps. That kid goes to bed earlier, and the parent tells another parent. Pretty soon all the parents are asking if their kid can skip nap.
We totally understand how fantastic it is when your kid is so spent at the end of the day they hit the hay at 6pm and Mommy gets to have her wine. But there are a few things a parent should consider.
Napping is good for the brain. Most young children require a nap, and the younger they are, the more they require it. Napping is important for storing memories and new information, for optimizing cognitive function, and minimizing emotional problems. Kids who don't nap and need to are less likely to retain what they learned in the morning. Kids who are suffering from sleep deprivation for a portion of each day are more likely to be misdiagnosed with a learning or behavioral problem.
A second consideration is the daycare may be required to enforce naps, due to licensing restrictions and employee break restrictions. Not all centres have the facilities to separate nappers from non-nappers. If this doesn't work for you, it's possible that centre may not be the right place for your child.
If napping in the day is really causing an issue for you and your centre won't, or can't comply with your no-nap wishes, there are things you can do. You can ask for "quiet time," which most centres allow. Which means that your child must lay quietly as if they were going to sleep, and once the sleepers have nodded off, they are permitted to look at books or do other quiet activities on their beds.You can also ask that your child be awakened after a certain amount of time, which most centers are happy to comply with.
2. Your kid isn't special.Without arguing the semantics of "if everybody's special then nobody is," I'll just clarify that what I mean is that your very precious child must, unfortunately, submit to the totalitarian collectivism that is group daycare. Teachers are required by law to maintain their teacher to child ratios with no exceptions. So if little Maximus (all my hypothetical kids have hipster parents) doesn't want to play in the snow because he's feeling under the weather, he needs to stay home, lest he ruin the fun of seven other kids who would also have to stay inside with him. Same goes for parents who ask if little Anchovy can go without a hat or sunscreen, or if Leelou can sneak peanut butter sandwiches in despite the allergy bans because "that's all she'll eat." They can't even stay up and play with toys if if they're not sleepy, in case they wake up the nappers in the room by pushing bottons on a musical firetruck. Nope, your daycare policies are there for the good of the collective whole. For more information on daycare policy, read something by Ayn Rand.
3. The squeaky wheel gets the grease."Whenever I look at my child on the webcam, he's just sitting there all alone. Where's the teacher?" In a large group setting, a teacher will spend nearly every second of free-play mediating fights, enforcing discipline, wiping bottoms, kissing boo-boos, and giving assistance to children who are lacking self-help skills. If you have a child who is self-sufficient and playing quietly by himself, you may see your child in solitary play while another child appears to have a lot of teacher interaction. This is unfortunate. But the reality of group care is that teachers' primary concern is to keep kids healthy, safe, and developing normally. So if your child is already okay in those three categories, they might not have much one-on-one time. This might be okay if they are able to benefit from independent play, and in other cases it might be undesirable. If you feel your child needs more, you might want to look into a centre with smaller ratios.
4. PLEASE Bring appropriate gear!Those single-layer magic gloves from the Dollar Store are crap when it's snowing out. The second they get wet, which is right away if your child is a thumb sucker, they are doing more harm than good. Those mittens with the impossibly tiny thumb-hole? Too-big gloves that actually were meant for the teenage brother? Snow gloves or tie-up shoes for a toddler? How much time to you think we have?!! Picture 24 three-year olds who can't tie their shoes or get their fingers into glove holes. That's 48 feet and 240 fingers. And when you fly into a rage because little Atticus came to daycare with two mitts and now he only has one, remember that between hats, mitts, boots, socks, neck warmers, and 24 children, teachers have 192 articles of clothing to keep track of daily, and approximately 196,578 occasions daily to remind children to put their mitts back on. We might miss one. Sorry.
|Where's my mitten?|
5. Daycare teachers are no substitute for parents.We love having a bond with your child, but you will always be her primary caregiver, and the most important person influence in her life. So when you drop her off at 6 am and don't pick her up until 5:30, we feel sad. If you need to work two jobs to get by, that's understandable, commendable even. But if you get off work at 3pm and spend every afternoon at the casino, your relationship with your child will suffer, and daycare teachers will talk about you "hypothetically", behind your back.
Sure, you need some personal time once in a while. But most of the time, daycare is for when you can't be with your child, not for when you don't want to be.
|C'mon, baby needs a new pair of mittens|
6. Save the Sunday Best for Sunday.Notwithstanding the fact that showcasing your daughter like a pageant queen can damaging to her self image, it is also extremely impractical to bring her to daycare in puffed sleeves and crinoline. I'm not talking about picture day or the Christmas party, or the "She-chose-her-own-clothes-and-we're-encouraging-the-autonomy" phase. I'm talking about people who dress their child up like a Las Vegas showgirl so that her little friends can see how pretty she looks, make them spin around and show it off, and then instruct the teacher that clean clothes are in the bag and that she should get changed before starting anything messy.
What do they mean by anything messy? Daycare is messy. Within ten minutes of opening, everything at daycare is covered in a thin layer paint, mud and mucus. So what was the point of dressing up?
Having a pretty princess in class helps nobody. It makes the playing field uneven among the jealous and sensibly dressed girls, and the little princess either gets fought over or ostracized. While parents may think showboating a girls' beauty is good for her self esteem, it can also teach her that appearance is an attribute that should be prioritized over her achievements. We don't need to teach girls this, Disney already does that for us.
|Who's ready to finger-paint?|
7. Please be on time at the end of the day!It's heartbreaking to tell a child that mommy will arrive soon and then she doesn't. You don't have to come early if that's not possible for you, just inform the centre if you're going to be much later than the usual routine so your child doesn't end up sitting there at the end of the day, sweating in their snowsuit in a room full of mentally checked-out teachers who are chatting to each other about what happened on Big Brother last night. Teachers understand that things happen- traffic on the bridge, flat tires, etc. But if you give them a quick call they will be able plan some more activities to keep your child distracted while they wait for you.
8. We know what goes on at home.Your language, mannerisms, and ideologies are all reflected in your child's behavior. For example, if your toddler enjoys using ride-on toys with his friends but continuously shouts things like, "learn to drive, numb nuts!" we can all assume that mom or dad might have a little trouble with road rage. Most teachers won't say anything to challenge your parenting skills; they are meant to be supportive. But that doesn't mean they aren't secretly wishing you would be a better role model in some areas.
Just remember, your kids are watching you closely, and we're watching them closely. So always try to be the same person around your kids as you are around your daycare provider.
9. We can't guarantee other children won't bite your child.I hear this frequently: teachers complaining about irate parents who threaten to sue, or verbally attack another parent because their child got bitten. Lots of toddlers bite for lots of reasons, and it is indeed frustrating for everyone. The trouble is, when you have a child who is a biter there is no quick solution. They could be a perfectly normal, well adjusted child otherwise, but they just do not have the cognitive function to understand what they are doing, and even with discipline it may take a number of trials and many bites and crying friends before the child learns not to bite. Keeping the child in isolation won't help them learn, either. Usually when a bite occurs, there is no warning, and even a well supervised child can suddenly chomp down on another child just as easily as some kids put play-dough or rocks into their mouths. Many centers can't exclude biters from their facility because they have an inclusive policy and they have accepted the challenge to help all children work through their developmental obstacles.
When a child hurts another child, Daycare teachers are not permitted to give you any personal information on the child who did it or their motives- that information is protected under confidentiality policy. So they are in a frustrating position where they can't tell you why it happened or what they are doing about it, because those matters concern the other child. Moving your child to a different room might not even be the best option for a child who has been bitten because A: there are likely many children getting bitten by that one child and they can't move them all or put that child in isolation and B: removing them from the room interrupts the bond between your child and their primary caregiver, which may be more damaging than a bite.
If your child gets bitten, don't panic. While your first instinct might be one of anger and accusation, try to take a moment and remember that these are children. They're not rational, or even necessarily spiteful or malicious. So stay calm and help your daycare provider troubleshoot the problem. Ask, "what are we going to do about this?" You might suggest that the teacher obtain "Teeth are not for Biting" by Elizabeth Verdick for circle time. And read it to your own child as well. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child social problem solving skills. Suggest to your child things they can do if they get bitten (Telling the friend, "no" and walking away, telling a teacher, choosing a different friend to play with, etc.) And remember: Getting irate in front of your child will do more damage to your child than the bite itself.
|Todders: So adorable, yet so deadly.|
10. We love your child.While the relationship with a parent and a daycare provider is a business relationship, the one that grows between the teacher and child is a very real and often emotional bond. It is very good for your child to have this kind of loving, nurturing relationship with a primary caregiver. Of course Mom and Dad will always be number 1, but severing the bonds between your child and caregiver can be a difficult transition, so pulling them out of daycare abruptly, changing centers often, or even having your child in a center with a lot of turnover is not good for their emotional well being.
Early Childhood Educators put a lot of work into nurturing child's formative years to build a foundation for them to grow upon, but then the children go off to school.Teachers don't get to reap any of the rewards that come from watching them grow and blossom. Even worse, the child often forgets all about the daycare teacher in time, although the teacher will never forget the child. So please, talk about us with your child, take a photo of us together before your child's last day, and most of all, come back to visit!
11. You're doing a great job!You might not hear this from your daycare provider, but you should. So often caregivers focus on the areas that need improvement, they fail to mention the things you have done right. Your child may have, for example, a bad temper but a lot of compassion, and that soft side is something they learned from Mom and Dad. If your child seems to be a holy terror and all you get is bad reports, there could be a number of reasons for that behaviour. The daycare provider isn't telling you about the behaviour to criticize your parenting, just to keep you informed. What they should be doing is congratulating you for making it through the difficult preschool years one day at a time, and letting you know that it takes a strong parent to make it, so good job!
Even if your child is well behaved and all you ever get is a bland "she had a good day," know that your child is very special indeed! The kids that don't give the teachers any trouble are a huge source of relief for us! We LOVE them. And we appreciate you for raising such a great child!
First and Last two Images courtesy of Jeanne Claire Maarbes, David Castillo Dominici, and arztsamui, respectively/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Other images blatantly stolen from google images with no apologies.