Dear Daycare Parent book coverWelcome to Dear Daycare Parent!

“An indispensable manual for parents venturing into the unknown territory of day care.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is an invaluable blueprint for navigating the land of drop-offs, snack time, and early childhood socialization.”
Foreword Reviews

“Leaving one’s child in the care of another can be nerve-wracking, but the authors’ upbeat, long-term perspective will assist parents in valuing their providers and doing best by their offspring. For all libraries.”
Library Journal (starred review)

The Dear Daycare Parent Blog

Leaving is Not an Option

In our book we address the problem parents have of getting their child to leave the daycare at the end of the day. So common and not unusual at all! However, if this is a daily situation it can be aggravating for parents and teachers as well.

Ah…the child that doesn’t want to leave will do things like cry, run amok around the building, refuse to put toys away, break rules… just to name a few! And then there is the parent who will say “ok, you can stay longer” or ” do you want me to come back?” And there you go. Typically, we have seen if you give those options once, it can become a habit.

We had a child who every night would see his dad come in the room and start to cry and take out more toys and even get to go out and play on the playground after closing time. It became a normal routine! Meanwhile, the conversation bubble over the teacher’s head is saying, “Please come on; I wanna get out of here!” LOL!

Another story that stands out is the dad who would arrive right at closing every day and say to his kids (who were the last ones there), ” do you wanna go home?”  The response was always no and the teachers would be waving goodbye as he was watching his kids continue to run around the playground.

Let’s face it, the typical number of hours a child spends in daycare is 8 or more hours. Truly, they have had more than enough time there.

You may be thinking…So what do I do?

So glad you asked because of course there are things you can do.

*First of all remember that YOU are in control.

*Don’t ask if they are ready to leave because that gives them an option. And remember – leaving is not an option.

*Say that it is time to get ready to leave. No need to be abrupt. Children like a little heads up on what’s coming next.

* Have a routine. For example, coming in and saying hi or giving hugs and announcing,  “Ok, put your toys away and lets get your things ready to take home.”

*Take a few minutes to look at the special project your child did that day.

*I have seen parents even set a timer on their phone for 5 minutes and say when the timer goes off it’s time to say good bye.

*Take a cue from the teacher. If all the toys are put away and the room is straightened out and chairs are up on the table, then you know it is closing time and everyone is ready to call it a day.

*If you are still struggling with your child, you may want to call the teachers ahead of time and tell them when you will be arriving. That way they can prepare your child and get his/her things ready for take off. :>)

When I worked closing hours I would have the children help me start to clean the room at the last half hour while I announced it’s almost time to close the school and we have to get ready to go. Then I would put out a simple activity on the floor mat like coloring or read them a story. Children respond well to routine so when certain things are happening they know what is coming up next. It makes them feel more comfortable. If any of you have a good suggestion, please feel free to share!

The Benefits of Boredom

I just read an excellent article by Victoria Prooday titled The silent tragedy affecting today’s children. Read it here.

As a person who has been working with preschoolers over 20 years, one thing that really stuck out for me in this article was the statement, provide opportunities for boredom as boredom is the time when creativity awakens! Love it!!!

Shrinking Creativity

I have realized how things have changed! And not for the better. When I first started teaching, I could put out a bunch of materials ( i.e. glue, paper , scissors, glitter……) and the kids would come running anxious to experiment and start creating!. Fast forward to the present and they are not so excited and will sometimes look and say, “what do we do with this?” They are losing the ability to be patient, think, and figure out what they can do! To imagine and create! They are getting used to constantly being entertained and told what to do. Tablets and cell phones are being used for entertainment. There are too many outside influences and their imaginations are not as strong.  Now this is a scary thing!

Learning How to Think for Themselves

How do I remedy this situation? Well, I always provided time in my classroom for free play. That means to go ahead and find something YOU want to do with little interference from the teachers. I felt my role during that time was to be an observer and provide guidance when needed. It was also during this free time I found children loved to come over and chat a bit and share a feeling or story from home. So many important skills were being used such as problem solving, socializing, creating…. all important life skills! I also liked to just stop once and a while and say, “hey guys, shhhhhhhhh! What do you hear?” They would give answers and be curious about some of the sounds. This lead to some spontaneous learning. If they heard a bird, then it would lead to wanting to learn more about that bird and nature!

The bottom line is this, if children are not allowed the time to just be and think for themselves  then how do they grow to be self-sufficient and responsibly-thinking adults some day?  What kinds of things do you do to give your children down time?

Aerosol Sunscreen May Be Dangerous To Use

Recently, Rebecca Cannon used an aerosol sunscreen, Banana Boat SPF 50, on her 14-month-old daughter, Kyla, as a precaution, even though she wouldn’t really be in the sun.  Rebecca read the directions to ensure it would be safe for her daughter.  The product said it was safe for children over 6 months old.  So, Rebecca applied the sunscreen as directed.  However, after using the product, her daughter had severe burns over her face.

Upon returning from the hospital, Rebecca did some research and was alarmed to learn, there were a disturbing number of cases like hers.  She said, “I don’t understand why it’s not removed from the shelves!”  After seeing the burns on this little one’s face, we thought we’d help this mother spread her words of warning about aerosol sunscreens.  (read story here)

Roughhousing Allowed in Daycare?

Recently a news article, in Quebec stated that dozens of daycare’s will now be allowing roughhousing and war games (read it here).  After reading the article, as well as the many comments written below, I can understand both sides of the argument.  But for me, it brings up many more questions.  First and foremost, wouldn’t this be more appropriate to start on children who are becoming more cognitive, like in Kindergarten.  Children in daycare, have yet to learn conflict resolution.  Therefore, when they get angry with their peers, they often try to resolve their problems in an aggressive manner, such as (using their fist, pushing and sometimes even biting the other child).

Very young children cannot easily distinguish what it okay in one scenario, but not okay in another.  In the article, they said, “They would welcome war games and roughhousing”.  They gave an example that would include structured sword fighting with foam swords.  There is almost an assurance that the children who can use a foam sword inside, will pick up a stick while outside and copy that already approved play.  Will these children be wearing face shields, like in real fencing?  I remember once when my student came back from vacation and was happy to see me, he raced over to give me a hug.  However, when he hugged me, the brim on his hat scrapped the cornea of my eye.  My doctor had me wearing an eye patch for a while.  My eye injury was an accident, are you ready for the injuries that might occur when you give the children toy weapons?  Therefore, I disagree with any kind of war/battle games in daycare.

I get it, boys are so different than girls!  In 2000, when I started teaching at a new school, my boss asked the staff not to tell me how many boys would be in my classroom that year.  She wanted me to find out at the Open House, when I met the parents and my new students.  It turns out, that my class of 3 and 4-year old’s, had 12 boys and 2 girls.  After the Open House, my boss popped her head in and asked, “Are you okay”?  I smiled and said, “Yup, and I’m up for the challenge”.

In the foundation for making roughhousing acceptable in daycare, they had six guidelines.  I agreed with all of them, except for the one that says, “welcome war games and roughhousing”.  When I had the class of 12 boys, I myself focused heavily on two of those guidelines:  1) Create an environment that is conductive to building a masculine identity and 2) Create opportunities for challenges and competitions.  I felt, while working with mostly boys, I had to challenge them and offer them physical outlets.  Doing this, made my year successful!

I set up my classroom in stations, to offer physical challenges.  I had a basketball hoop on the door and the children used a soft spongy ball to play.  There were two stations where I left 2 lb. & 5lb. weights, as well as a mirror so they could watch themselves exercise.  Since many of the children’s fathers used weights at home, the children often gravitated to this activity.   We had Crocodile miniature golf, Croquet, bowling and even horse shoes for them to use.  We did music and movement activities, as well as yoga.  Several times a month, we would turn the classroom into an obstacle course or we would just leave out simple balance beams.  As the children became more interested in group games, we’d go outside and played competitive games or set up challenges, like the Olympics.  I knew that I could not become complacent, I had to keep on my toes to keep them active.  While they were having fun, they were learning too.

In the article, Neisha May, a mother of a boy and a girl, said, “I don’t know how I would feel about roughhousing in a daycare setting because the ratio is like 10 to 1, where at home, where they do wrestle with my husband and they love it, we can keep an eye on what’s going on.”  So, we’d love to hear your opinion, would you welcome war games and roughhousing in your child’s daycare?

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