Scenario: K needs to go back to school at least part-time. He’s previously been in daycare. In fact, so far he’s been in two separate daycares. I couldn’t complain about either one of them. He seemed to thrive in both settings, and most importantly he seemed to enjoy getting out of the house and having new experiences with kids his age. After we moved, the daycare that he had been attending was too far. So his dad has taken over and is now watching him most days, and saving his work until the evening and weekend. His dad is tired of being in the house, and wants to branch out into a new business. We are both nervous about anybody but us looking after our son, but what else can we do. He will have to go back to daycare.
As nerve racking as it is, daycare is a solution that works out for most parents. I prefer a daycare center with lots of children and several adults, over a small-time babysitter for the following reasons:
1) There are other adults to watch the adult that is watching your child. I hope that this keeps the adults in line and prevents abuse. Taking my child to someone’s home who maybe watches a couple other kids will probably save money, but not piece of mind (unless you know that person well).
2) Daycare workers have often been certified in childcare and CPR.
3) Daycare centers are often more structured, and focus on teaching more skills then babysitters.
4) There are more kids to play with. This is especially good for my son who is introverted and doesn’t warm up to other kids easy. The more kids around him, the more chances he has of meeting someone he really gels with.
5) TIN. Most small-time babysitters aren’t set up like a business and won’t provide a TIN that you will need to write daycare off on your taxes.
6) My son has the opportunity to try lots of new things – new activities, new foods, and go new places. K can be a bit resistant when I introduce new things to him, but he’s a bit more open when he sees other kids trying something new.
The negatives about daycare:
1) My son stays sick. With so many kids, it is hard to keep germs at bay. If it is hard to take off work, daycare may not be the best solution.
2) No one will care about your child as much as you do. That’s just a fact.
Since I now need to find a new daycare, here are some of the things I will be looking for:
1) My gut feeling. What is my first reaction to the daycare, teachers, and structure of the center. It is important to listen to your instincts here. Last year when I was searching for a childcare, I located a center near my job who offered a comprehensive learning program and extracurricular activities, but their playground was to exposed. Although it was in the back of the center, the gate was not secure. I could just imagine a mad man coming in and hurting the children, or my child somehow getting lose. Another center had excellent security, but it was run by a man. I know that seems unreasonable, but I couldn’t get comfortable with that.
2) Structured learning. My son really needs a preschool program since he is four.
3) Activities and field trips. I really believe that children should explore and go places. If I wanted him to sit in one room, I would leave him at home.
4) Price. Daycare costs should not exceed 1/3 of one check for each child,
5) Flexibility. At this point, I prefer a part-time program.