Tuesday, August 20, 2013

11 Things Your Daycare Centre Teachers Won't Tell You

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.

Alternatively, if your concern is that your child is having difficulty sleeping at night, you can ask the daycare providers to encourage your child to be more physically active during the day, especially in the afternoon.  Teachers can play tag with them, dance, or provide equipment for their favorite game or sport. Your child will love this, and your daycare teacher will have to do their job and engage with the kids instead of just chatting with other teachers about Grey's Anatomy.


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.

Circle Time


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.


22 comments:

  1. Funny article. Worth a read, particularly from a caregivers point of view. Not sure how a sensitive parent would cope tho!

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  2. I want to share this with several of my families! Wonderfully funny and yet oh so true!!

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  3. thanks for this, I am attaching a link to it on my ECE Swap Facebook page, for other ECE's to enjoy.

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  4. I have worked in childcare both before and after I had children and in multiple centres. This article is biased in several ways and off base and comes from an arrogant perspective. Keep in mind that parents too have their opinions about their childcare worker and these very topics mentioned in your article. You probably would be upset if a parent wrote an article from their perspective about their provider. For some childcare providers, you are not parents so don't presume that you can even begin to understand what parenting is about.

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    1. I AM a parent and was an ECE for 7 years before becoming a parent. There will be plenty of parents who are offended by this. There will be plenty of ECEs who don't agree with this. "...don't presume that you can even begin to understand what parenting is about." Are you presuming the author isn't a parent? Are you assuming they don't know both sides.

      I agree with every part! #1 and #11 should be shouted from the rooftops!

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  5. Joanna▲▲It's irrelevant if the provider is a parent or not. All those points made are COMMON SENSE.

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  6. Lisa, my point is about whether a provider is a parent or not, is about perspective. As a parent, your view is changed, I am assuming you are not a parent or you may understand better what I mean.

    And I do not agree that all the points are common sense. In my former child care provider provider history, I have learned that I was arrogant to know what was really going on in a home, what parents were really like, how the child was at home, etc. Looking back, those providers who were parents were much less quick to judge and a lot more supportive than those providers who were not parents. I include myself in that.

    Should you dress your child in their best for day care, NO. Should parents get in a fluff over a child biting - depends on the age of the child. 2 year old, NO, five year old, YES. Not a big fluff, but there should be dialogue between providers and parents to be in communication with what is being done to handle the situation. Should you pack your child with appropriate outdoor gear, ABSOLUTELY! Should you nap a child when parents say don't? I lean toward what the parents want. NO, not all children need to nap. There is a vicious cycle with napping. My child was forced to nap, in the centre I worked in. They were a very active child and I myself would try and wear them out so they would go to sleep at night. They never would fall asleep before 10-11pm. We were tired as parents for work, my child was tired for daycare the next day, it made them cranky, unable to learn, unable to socialize well with other children, cranky to eat, and it goes on. And I would hear complaints from my co-workers that my child needed to nap more so that they wouldn't be cranky! When my child didn't nap, they were better behaved because they got a proper nights sleep which lead to everything else falling into place. I understand the regulations about a quiet time, and it can be difficult to make the physical accommodations, but centres need to be prepared and deal with non nappers. We did at one of the centres I worked at and it wasn't as difficult as some centres make it out to be.

    Keep in mind the perspective of the parents. What kind of article would they write about how they view providers? How close to the truth would they be? How far off would they be? Could it be a little salt in a wound? Would it be fair? Probably not fair at all, because, after all, they aren't you! Not all responses to this article have been favourable. Would you share this with all the parents of your centre? Probably not because you do know that it would upset many of them, not because they are over sensitive, but because the view is biased and sheds an unfavourable light on how a PROVIDER THINKS that THEY feel.

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  7. Joanna I am a parent as well as an E.C.E and i totally agree with this article. We are secondary caregivers and our job is not as a parent but as secondary caregiver. Also parents don't normally have 12 children of their own these days or 14 afterschoolers to deal with so they need to understand all that is different for us at the daycare from what they can give their one or two sometimes three children.

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  8. Furthermore i think that if most parents wrote an article about their childcare provider it Would not be salt in my wounds because most parents i have don't have a clue what i do each day. they don't care to know and even if they did they would hear my words but still would not know what it feels like to deal with all of that every day. Actually i would welcome an article from some parents because i think that it would be so off base it would actually be amusing.Are you an E.C.E yourself Joanna?

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  9. Furthermore i think that if most parents wrote an article about their childcare provider it would not be salt in my wounds because most parents i have don't have a clue what i do each day. They don't care to know and even if they did they would hear my words but still would not know what it feels like to deal with all of that every day. Actually i would welcome an article from some parents because i think that it would be so off base it would actually be amusing. Are you an E.C.E yourself Joanna?

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  10. Me, an ECE, as per previous posts, yes!

    My purpose in responding to this post is to provide perspective that might be lost on both parties, to bring common ground and food for thought.

    A letter from parents to their child care providers.

    #1 Please don't presume that you know what goes on in my family.

    As my provider, you are given a snap shot into my life, not a panoramic view. You are not privy to my private life and you may think that you know what goes on but your conclusions may be way off base. Yes, there will be times my child will let you have a peek into our lives but keep in mind that my child is influenced by all those he comes in contact with, including you. The off comment they made the other day, I am sorry I let that slide and they heard me. It happens so rarely but it did happen. Our whole lives aren't full of off comments. Your judgement of me and other parents is picked up by the children we entrust to you. What you think of us, affects our children and their perspective of us. (By the way, when my child learned the 'f' word, it was from his provider, who admitted she accidently let it slide one day.) Also keep in mind my snap shot into your life is accurate as well. My child/ren tell me things about you and it isn't fair for me to make presumptions about you life!

    #2 Please don't presume that I knew my child was sick when I dropped them off this morning.

    Yes, that stain on their shirt that smells like fever reducer, really is juice/jam. No, I wasn't trying to snow you into thinking my child was well today so that I wouldn't have to take a day off of work. I want nothing more than to care for my child when they are sick and I don't appreciate you thinking that I would try and avoid that parental responsibility.

    #3 While you are educated in your field, you are not qualified to diagnose my child.

    Whether it be for a short term illness or a long term one, you are not qualified to make a diagnosis.

    That goop in my child's eye that you have me repeatedly going to the doctor for is just that - some goop. It is not an infection, as you think, just something that is irritating my child's eye. You tax my employer and my doctor's office by keep on sending me to the doctor without warrant. BTW, my doctor is getting irritated with you for taking up his time to get notes from him. He actually has sick people he needs to see.

    If you suspect a cognitive issue, or some other such issue, with child, handle it with care. Your term evaluations are a great way to help me understand that there may be another issue with my child that I need to look into. I am a parent after all and I already may have these same thoughts and may already be in discussion with my family doctor about it. But don't come at me with suspicions of autism, ADHD, or some other such diagnosis. You are not qualified or equipped to do that, plus you may be wrong and have caused a lot of heartache that isn't necessary. (Have had this one from both ends. Had to approach a parent about their child. Also had a provider approach me about my own child saying they had something wrong with them. My child did not and my doctor went through the roof with a provider who gave a diagnosis that was not educated in that area.)

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    1. #4 Don't presume that I can't appreciate what you go through in a day.

      No, I don't have a classroom full of children, but I understand more than you think. When I have my child, or children, with me at home, I do many of the same things you do, sometimes more. The balancing act at your work and my home aren't as different as you think. You have an inordinate amount of things to do in your day - programs to plan, meals to serve, play time to supervise, arguments to diffuse, and so on. My day is filled with the same things as that, plus I balance out-of-the-home errands, a job on top of that, and issues for my older children (like school, etc) We all balance so much don't put a greater divide between us because you think that your day is harder with your job and life than what you think it is with my job and life. We are on the same team.

      #5 Please don't think that the way my child acts with you is the way they act with me.

      This is a given, but please realize that the environment at the centre is different than the environment at home. My child may be sweet and pleasing at the centre but act our more at home. We may have more discipline issues. So don't think that the way that the centre is run is better because my child acts better for you.

      The same goes in reverse. My child may be compliant at home but be more difficult for you. I will work with you with discipline issues that you have but keep in mind that if I don't experience these issues at home, it is difficult for me to encourage different behaviour in my child. Even if I talk to them about their behaviour at your centre, it may not hold the same weight as it would if I were present for the issue. I will support you and work with you any way I can. I expect the same in return from you.

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    2. #6 Please don't presume that my discouragement over having proper clothing / lost clothing is in disagreement with centre policies.

      Day care is messy. Messy clothes are a sign of a good day. But there have been 4 pairs of mittens, 2 hats, a pair of pants and a shoe that have all gone missing or have been ruined this month alone. Even second hand, clothing expenses add up. Plus the time needed to go in search of new clothing eats up valuable time. And while it is February and you would think that there would be lots of mittens in stock in stores, that just isn't so. So don't get upset with me when I tell you that I can't find them. I am just frustrated that even though I am prepared, it doesn't seem to be enough. It isn't reflection on you so don't get your back up.

      #7 Please don't put on a show for me.

      When I drop off my child or pick them up, I can tell when you overact for me. Just be yourself and let the natural way you and my child act be true. Not only I catch your insincerity, but so does my child. I want my child to feel secure with you and part of that security comes from feeling a natural relationship with you. They will learn so much from this. I promise I will be sincere with you.

      #8 I know that you gossip about me and other parents.

      Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn't, but really it does. (I am guilty of it and so are many others who are brave enough to admit it) But when I came to pick my child up, I overheard you say something about another parent. I can only presume that you do it about all parents. It does reflect you and the centre so keep opinions to yourself. It is unprofessional and not necessary. Plus, kids do hear you and my child does talk about things their providers say about other people. And oh yeah, parents sometimes talk to one another about things that they overhear. Most won't say anything to you but they talk! It does affect your relationship with them.

      Those are a few thoughts, and not really thoughts, but more what I, and others I know in the business, have experienced. This is meant to bring about more of an appreciation for the relationship that a child care provider ad parent should have. I have seen time and again as a provider and as a parent that this relationship isn't
      sunshine and roses and a lot think it is.

      The article above made me ashamed to be generalized that my thoughts as a provider were those thoughts. Some of the used to be those very thoughts and it chokes me up to even think that I used to feel that way. I matured and gained a better appreciation for my role of provider and that of the parent - hard to do and even harder to admit that you need to do.

      This article also made me sad as a parent that I was viewed this way. How unfair to presume that I had those feelings. Other providers that have read this on Facebook, are not all on your page either.

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    3. #9 I've worked in daycare and now I'm an overly entitled parent who expects special treatment for me and my child.

      That's what I get out of your posts Joanna.

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    4. Response to Joanna's #3. Because YOU think it's "just goop", if it's happening daily, there's a problem that needs to be taken care of. You are correct, day care workers cannot diagnose so they send you to a doctor who can. They're priority is not your goopy kid, but to the others in the room. They can't tell if it's infectious or not so you're taking your kid to the doctor and he's not coming back until the doctor sends a note saying he's not infectious.

      #2...you didn't know your kid was sick? Don't be expecting that mother of the year award anytime soon. You know your child better than anybody (or you should), and sending your kid to daycare with juice/jam stains on their shirt? That just screams lazy mom who sent the kid to daycare so she can sleep in for the day and watch her soaps uninterrupted.

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  12. Donna...
    I am also an ECE and agree completely with point one. I have 16 children in my room and it is POLICY if goop comes out of the eye they leave until t is better, or a doctor writes us a note telling us what it wrong with it. Sometimes it is about the greater good. it might not be the eye... they may have a sinus issue who knows.

    part two you started off making a decent point ( and for any of the parents reading this is your child 3 or older? well guess what they tell us when you've given them medicine. they tell us everything...) however you turned it into name calling making your point seem ridiculous. I have never assumed a parent is "lazy" because of a jam or juice stain. kids are kids and if we changed there clothes for every spill it would be constant.

    Some of this I agree with, sending the children in there best clothes... yelling at us about your child getting bitten ( we feel bad about it but threatening to pull your child out of daycare? we have a wait list. doesn't bother us. but some of this is a ridiculous rant. unless its written in your parent manual or you've told the parents about polcies that have to do with things such as how long theyre at daycare etc. its up to them. we can feel bad for the children because we know that the parents are home and they are at daycare... but can we do anything about it? no. As for being at daycare for extra long days, make it policy, make a time limit and give them an extra fee to be there longer. most parents wont pay extra.

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  13. Joanna do you realize that where sickness is concerned we have to follow government policies? Do you really think we like 'bothering' you about stuff like this frequently? As far as the juice/jam stain goes don't forget as the point was already made, your child tells us when they have had meds in the morning, when they threw up all night or in the car to daycare. I do not now or have ever presumed i know what goes on in a parents life as a matter of fact i have always had the practice of not getting into parents private lives unless i am invited in for the greater good of the child. i.e parents have just gotten divorced and the parent wants me to be aware so i can care for the child with a better understanding of what they are going through. Believe me when i say this......i know the genuine from the not so genuine and i judge no one. I love the children like i am supposed to.

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  14. Oh and Joanna your comment "So don't think that the way that the centre is run is better because my child acts better for you.' is the most ridiculous thing i have ever read. Any E.C.E worth a spit knows children act differently for different people. If I had a dollar for every parent who commented to me how come my child listens to you not me....or how come you can get them to do that and i respond with " listen my kids don't listen to me but i'm sure they'd listen to you" i'd be rich right now. Human's in general are like that not just children.

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  15. Quite the discussion on this post. I just wanted to say that as a new mom with no experience in childcare on a professional level and a baby who will be starting at daycare in the spring, I really liked this post. I found it honest and funny. Perhaps it has been taken a little too personally.

    www.anewmomontheblog.blogspot.ca

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