Faye Holt from Dayhome Registry is helping us make our childcare choices. This three part series will help you find what kind of care you want, how to find it and what to look for. Come back each Wednesday for the next part of the series!
Part 3: Keeping your child, provider, and you, happy (and how to tell if there is a problem)
After time searching, interviewing and finding different providers, you have finally settled on the place you feel will be the best place for your child. There are some things you can do to help keep that relationship a good one, and some signs to watch for from your child so that you know the relationship continues to be good.
First of all, when dealing with the provider, be open and honest. If there is something you are concerned about bring the issue up right away. Allowing issues to fester in your mind, or theirs, will only make the discussion that much harder. Find a good time to talk to them, preferably without your child around, and without accusations, lay your concerns on the table. For example, you could start the conversation with something like “Jonny LOVES coming to you, and always tells me how much fun he has here, but I am a bit concerned about how often I see the T.V. on when I drop him off and pick him up”
If you need to change your schedule or something else about the care, as much as possible, give the provider lots of notice. Perhaps you have just been given a promotion at work, and will need to work an hour later each day, or you are going on vacation for a week at Spring Break. Give the provider as much time as you can to accommodate for those changes. Or, maybe you want to start potty training, and need the provider to help you with that when your child is in their care. Discuss your potty training strategies with the provider so you are being consistent, provide LOTS of extra underwear and clothes, and start the process at home on a weekend so that it has already been started before the provider needs to follow through.
Some providers have a communication book where they will jot down a few key points from the day, or any important information you need to know. Kids will not tell you everything they did in a day. At the end of the day, everyone is in a rush and some things get forgotten. Having it written down really helps if there is anything really important that comes up. This may not work in a daycare situation where there are many kids, but does work really well with a Nanny situation. My Nanny would write down what the kids ate for lunch, a few things they did during the day, and any major behavioral issues that may have arisen. That really helped me because then I knew what questions to ask “Did you have fun at the spray park today?” “Can you show me the craft you made with Mary?”
Now, assuming all of the above is going smoothly, how can you tell if your child is happy with their childcare situation? Remember every child is going to find the first few weeks in a new childcare situation difficult, and drop offs for the first while are probably going to be hard on everyone. Expect them to be more tired and cranky than normal at first, especially if they are in a big daycare with lots of other kids around. However, you know your child better than anyone. Watch for changes in behaviour and do a “gut check”. If you think they are happy and content there, they probably are. If you are having warning bells going off in your head, it’s probably for a reason: start investigating. It’s hard to tell, especially with infants, if things are going well. Pay attention to whether they are eating, sleeping and playing normally? This shows that they are comfortable enough to trust the environment they are in. It’s a good idea to pick up at a variety of times, just to get an idea of things that happen at different times during the day. Also, watch how your child reacts to the provider. Does he/she smile at them, and seem happy to see them (even if the actual transition, or hand off, is rough)? Does the provider seem genuinely happy to see your child? If your child is in a situation where there are other children, watch how they are with the providers and each other. If you know of an older child in the same care, ask them how they like it, what they do in the day, etc. This MAY give you a taste of what the care is like. Remember though, a grumpy, hungry and tired four year old usually doesn’t like ANYTHING! Another good thing to keep in mind is that crying when you pick them up is NOT necessarily a sign that they are unhappy in their care situation. When my son was little, he used to cry almost every time I picked him up, simply because he was tired, and he finds change harder than some kids. My daughter now cries sometimes when I pick her up because she is having too much fun, and doesn’t want to come home!!!
If you are concerned about your child and their care environment, you need to address it. Talk to the provider about your concerns and ask if they are seeing the same things you are. If they seem flippant or unconcerned about it, it might be time to start looking elsewhere. If you feel there is a distinct possibility your child might be in danger, listen to your gut and pull them IMMEDIATELY! However, most people in the childcare industry are in it because they love children, and they do have your child’s best interests at heart. Calmly bring your concerns to their attention, devise a plan to help your child be happier in care, and enjoy the days when your child says “ YEAH!!! I get to go to ________________________ today!!”
Still searching for that place your child is THRILLED to go to? Use our search feature at www.dayhomeregistry.com
Until next time,