Back in the day when we were kids, I think “daycare” was somehow a bad word. It was sort of like “Oh! You go to DAYCARE?! Your mom has to work?! Are you poor?” I thought of daycare as a place where a woman in curlers and a bathrobe kept kids fenced in her front yard with rusty old playground equipment while she went through a pack of Salem Lights. That was before she took the dirty children inside to watch “The Young and the Restless.” This of course, is my misguided perception. I’m sure there were many quality daycare centers 30 years ago.
Now it’s like, “Where do your kids go to daycare? Oh, really? They don’t? Well they won’t be ready for kindergarten if you don’t start newborn baby curriculum! We’re at Yuppie & Hipster Montessori. We pay twice our mortgage payment every month to send the kids there, but it was important for us to have Jasper and Kinsley in a full-time Mandarin immersion program.”
I had a babysitter during the day when I was little, then my mom stayed home when my little sister was born. Mom went back to her career when my sister went to kindergarten.
I’ve had some readers and friends ask me recently about how I found Charlotte’s daycare and why we go there. The short answer? That’s where we were able to get in when I had to go back to work after maternity leave. We like her school. I’m really glad she’s there. It was a great decision for us.
Waiting Lists– In a previous post about giving advice to pregnant women, I mentioned you have to get on the waiting list at a daycare, pronto! Like, in your second trimester. We were on the waiting lists at five different schools. It was $150 fee to get on the waiting list. You can kiss that money good-bye. You don’t get it back. I toured each of these and got absolutely no guarantee from any of them that she was in until after she was born. Quality infant classes are tough to get into.
Stars- In North Carolina there is a Star Rated License program. I’m sure many states have similar licensing programs. To me, it seems like sort of a crock. Why? It’s just really confusing, first of all. Secondly, you get one star if you meet state standards. So, any other stars are ones the schools apply for. Huh? I have friends who sent their kids to a “Five Star” facility and were very unhappy when they discovered some unsanitary practices being covered up. They said they were fooled by the shiny, pretty new building. Also, your school could meet state requirements with one star, but then have a bunch of other accredidations instead of the stars. You just have to check into it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think stars are important, but a lot of it has to do with the amount of education the teachers have. A lot of Charlotte’s teachers are in school, have Associate’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education and are working on their bachelor’s degrees. They are just young. Others may not have gone to college, but have been in childcare facilities for decades and have great experience working with children. Their schooling automatically knocks the star rating down even though they are awesome teachers.
Charlotte’s school has three stars. This stressed me out and made me feel like a terrible parent for awhile until I looked into the system some more and realized the relatively insignificant things that bumped up the rating for a facility. I think you have to take the ratings with a grain of salt. By-the-way, my personal research into price showed very little difference in tuition prices for schools with 3 to 5 stars. Oh, and religious-based schools just have to meet a state compliance standard and don’t have to do anything with stars if they don’t want to. Again, take the stars with a grain of salt.
Programs- I like the variety of things they offer. Charlotte’s school has a pool with swimming lessons starting at a certain age, gymnastics, theatrical performances and art. I do wish there was more foreign language, but they do some Spanish lessons now that she’s in the Two’s Class. I seriously couldn’t believe it when I got her first “Report Card” when she was like, 5 months old. They discussed how Charlotte was doing with Infant Curriculum. Huh? For real? Yep, they assessed how she was holding up her head, doing tummy time, responding to her teacher’s facial expressions and other baby milestones. It cracked me up.
Now Charlotte will come home and put her head on the ground while lifting her leg. When we ask her what she’s doing she says, “I do Yoga!” Yes, they offer Yoga and Zumba for toddlers. I keep thinking, “Yoga, Zumba, afternoon naps with classical music and snacks? Um. I wanna be in daycare!”
Food- We chose a school that offers a menu. I figured if we paid this much, the price better include feeding my kid. There are some places you have to pack their lunch everyday. There is no way we are going pack her lunch everyday. I will when she’s in elementary school so she can experience the “lunchbox novelty” and I won’t stress over public school food.
I was worried about the school menu until I looked at it. At her school they include veggies, fruit and whole grains in every meal. Um, yeah. That’s often better than what she gets at home. At first I didn’t like tater tot Fridays once a month, but then I realized it will be almost impossible to raise a child who has never tasted a tot. The school menu made us branch out with what we feed our daughter. She ate taco salad at school and decided she loved it. Huh? I never would have guessed that if it weren’t for the school food.
I also think this is where positive peer pressure comes in. Her teachers said kids who may not eat veggies at home tend to eat them when the whole class is chowing on some green beans.
Socialization– Every kid cries sometimes when their parents drop them off at daycare. It’s inevitable. But, I’ve noticed a bit of a trend. The kids who started daycare at 18 months or 2 years seem to cry a lot when my kid doesn’t even know that I’m gone. Charlotte and most of her friends have been there since they were 3 months old. They know we’re coming back. They also know the toys in the classroom are super cool and they don’t have all these playmates at home.
So that is why and how we chose our daycare. I’m am seriously not an expert on this. What did I miss? How did you choose your childcare? What do you like about your daycare?