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  1. #1

    Using Childcare for toddlers

    I will be sending my two and four year old to a childcare center for the first time next month. I'm really nervous about what to expect. I have never used childcare centers before due to my own experiences. The one I went to as a child caught on fire. It was a very traumatizing experience and I used to say I would never send my children to one. However, we have no choice at the moment. Do you have any suggestions on how I can overcome some of my fears and feel comfortable with leaving my children in the care of others?

  2. #2
    Hi Nicole,

    I was the Office Manager at a Preschool for 6 years, and after I resigned to stay home and raise my own children, I decided to become a licensed child care provider.

    Having said that, I've got lots of tips to help you overcome your fears.

    First of all, you need to feel ABSOLUTELY comfortable with your child care provider or center. You mentioned "center" so I'm going to focus on that.

    You need to visit at least 3 child care centers. The Director or Office Manager or whomever is responsible for enrollments should offer to give you a tour of the ENTIRE facility (not just the rooms your children will be in). They need to explain what they teach and what the routines look like in each classroom. Your children will start in one room, but will likely move to another room as they get older, so it's important to feel comfortable with the entire center, and ESPECIALLY the Director. I can't express to you enough how important it is that you feel like you can talk to the Director about anything, and that she will listen and take action if there is a problem.

    My oldest daughter is 20 years old and is getting her Early Childhood Degree. She has worked in two different centers. The first one had a very poor Director, and the second one has a great Director. Work conditions are very different at both facilities a happy staff makes for happy teachers (you don't want the teachers to be grumpy because they're being overworked and under paid).

    You'll want to be sure that the ratios in each classroom are at or below what your State requires. At the preschool where I worked, our 2 1/2 -3 year olds had a ratio of 1 teacher to every 8 children. Our older classes had a ratio of 1 to 10, even though the State required a 1 to 12 ratio. Again, this makes for happier teachers when they are not stretched between too many children.

    Next you'll want to make sure that your center is willing to work with you to transition your children into the center easily. This would include encouraging you to bring your children for a visit. If the children need more than one visit, you should feel comfortable coming in for more visits.

    You will stay with your children for these visits - you will not leave them because they will not be in active enrollment before their first day of attendance.

    If the children will be going part time it can be harder on them than full time. If your children attend on Tuesday and Thursday, then are home Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, it's like starting all over again when they return on Tuesday. This can make adjustments very difficult for some children.

    I would encourage you to start with 5 half days, bringing your child to the center every day for a week, and picking up after a half day session. Mornings are better than afternoons because you really don't want to bring your child at lunch time (when afternoon sessions start) because after lunch is nap, and what child wants to go to preschool to take a nap? Dropping off at 9AM and picking up at noon, after lunch, can make the transition to full time at the center much easier on your children.

    Lastly, your Director or Office Manager should be happy to take your calls. You should be encouraged to call an hour after dropping your children off to see how they are doing, and someone should be more than happy to check on the children for you. You should also be encouraged to call anytime you are feeling uneasy.

    All licensed centers are required to meet certain fire safety standards. Sometimes State Licensing and the Fire Department will clash in their requirements (State Licensing says the children should not be able to get out of the school yard... Fire Departments say the children should be able to get out in the event of a fire). So talk to your Director about this and find out what all the Fire Safety things are. We had periodic fire drills. What's most important is that on the slim chance that the center catches on fire, everyone knows what to do to protect the children.

    I hope this helps to put some of your fears to rest. And if you really can't function with the worry, then consider taking children into your home and doing child care. You can choose your favorite age (mine is infants) and just offer a very high end service to parents in your area while being able to raise your little ones at home. This is what I would encourage you to do, and if it's not possible at the moment, then I'd encourage you to figure out how to do this in the future. You can pick up pretty much all you need for a child care environment through freecycle.org for free. In our area, we are allowed to care for one family's children without being licensed (whether that's one child or 7 children).

    Please let me know if this has been helpful and if you have any other questions.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

  3. #3
    Hi Kate,

    Your tips have been quite helpful. I took the pleasure of taking some notes to make sure I look for these hings and ask appropriate questions when we tour he centers. I really want this to work out for our little ones. I know this information is invaluable to me as it's been awhile since I've had to go through the decision to get childcare.

    I do like the option of starting my own center. It's definitely something worth considering. I'll have to think this over to see if it's a good alternative for the space we have available. Also, thanks for he tips on freecycle.org.

    Cheers,

    Nicole

  4. #4
    Hi Nicole,

    Have you started looking for a center yet? Curious to know how things are going.

    Warm regards,

    Kate

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