A Caregivers Perspective On Childcare - An Open Letter

Dear parent considering childcare, 

 

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been in the business of childcare. For over 10 years, she has been the owner and director of her own childcare business. I have worked in childcare under her employment for over 4 years. The stress she is constantly under is incomparable. The more I learn about the obstacles and challenges of childcare, the more obvious it becomes that she doesn’t do this for the money or the ease of the job. My mom, as well as every coworker I have at Little Sprouts, is part of this family because we all love kids and feel a responsibility toward caring and teaching other’s children. 

Far too often, I hear people talking about how they are unsure about childcare; how they feel it is abandoning or letting down their child(ren) or leaving them in lesser care than they could give themselves. I completely understand this point of view. Parents have every right to keep their children home. It does work for some! In fact, I was home with my mom for a decent chunk of my early childhood. However, over the years observing and working in infant and toddler care, I believe it can provide a lot of benefits that home care may not necessarily provide. 

Childcare centers are hubs of socialization. Not just for kids, but for parents as well! The connections a family makes with the staff and other families of childcare centers can be lifelong, and are often some of the most genuine bonds. The relationships I have witnessed and formed myself are unique in many ways. There is no other relationship in my life in which I can be a teacher as well as a student. I can provide feedback and help when needed, but I also find that I learn a lot from the varying families that I meet and bond with. Kids also find relationships with other kids and their teachers. Yes, “they” play and “we” supervise and lead, but we also learn from one another. Watching the interactions between children and their environments tells us exactly what kind of curriculum we should plan, as well as what the kids themselves need and want to be seeing from the adults surrounding them every day. Perhaps even more important is the socialization kids get from interacting with one another. Kids can learn things like emotions, patience, respect, social cues, right and wrongs, and other social skills by simply playing with other kids their age. When they notice the emotions of others who are not their immediate family members, it can be very beneficial in terms of understanding. One of the most important takeaways I have gotten from observing toddlers is that empathy is learned/taught.(!!) Many parents assume that their children will understand empathy and social cues with time and age, when in fact it is learned through social interaction with others. 

Childcare also teaches a branch of independence that cannot be taught at home. There are times throughout the day when there isn’t necessarily an adult by every child’s side at all times. In this sense, it forces children every now and again to climb that stool or get soap or put on their shoe by themselves. Although to some this may seem borderline, children have every ability to learn to do things without help! They are much more capable than some may think, including the kids themselves. The look on the faces of both the kids and their parents when they realize they can actually put their shoes on without help is priceless! This not only provokes a sense of maturity and independence, but self-confidence! These positive feelings are just as valuable as the skills themselves. 

This isn’t to say that home care doesn’t teach these things or benefit children at all. Yet over the years (the majority of my life) I have watched completely helpless children become confident, capable, and prepared for the next step in a matter of months. More than half the kids we care for won’t remember us as they grow and make stronger relationships with others, but I will remember each and every family that comes through the center. There’s something about watching a child grow and flourish and then leave you behind that makes you feel accomplished and hopeful, no matter how sad. 

If you keep your child home with you, good for you! It takes a lot of patience and effort to be there for your child 24/7.

But I hope if you’re thinking of childcare and you are hesitant, know that your children are in good hands. Know the relationships your entire family will form are unique and meaningful. Know that you will always make the right choice for your family. Know you are doing right by your child! And if you choose childcare, know that we are so excited you did! 

Best, 

Miss Rachel