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How to Communicate with Your Childcare Provider

Dropping your child off at a daycare can be an anxiety-ridden experience. Your childcare provider will be spending just as much time as you do with your child. So, it is natural to have a lot of questions. But how do you effectively speak with your childcare provider without coming off pushy or demanding? We have some tips on how to communicate with your childcare provider that may help.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Childcare providers want to speak with you just as much as you want to speak with them. They are caring for and teaching your child daily, in most cases, and they want to keep you in the loop about their progress or any issues that may arise.

Be available for any meetings your provider wants to schedule. Providers like to show you what your child is doing on a daily basis. They don’t want to keep you in the dark, as they understand how important your child is. This is even more important now with COVID-19 as many daycares are not allowing parents to enter the building so keeping contact will require more effort than before. Some daycare providers will text or email parents daily or weekly. If this is something you would like, inquire before you choose a daycare facility. This way you will know before your child’s first day that those lines of communication are open.

Respect Their Time

Just like you, your childcare provider is very busy, as they are caring for a lot of children. If you are interested in speaking with them about your child, schedule a meeting. You don’t want to start an important conversation during drop-off or pickup, when things can be hectic.

By scheduling a meeting to communicate with your childcare provider, you are showing them you respect their time and, in turn, they will respect yours.

Daycare Provider

Treat Them Like Professionals

When communicating with your childcare provider, no matter how close you are with them, remember that they are professionals and should be treated that way. With technology, such as texting or emailing, it can be easy to fire off a message with ‘I would like to meet with you.’ But try to be specific. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, let them know ahead of time so they can be prepared. If you would just like to discuss your child’s progress, let them know this too.

Remember, just because you are friendly with them doesn’t mean you can take advantage when issues arise. Treat them with the same respect you would anyone you are doing business with.

Be Prepared to Listen

As parents, we may jump to conclusions when we don’t like something our child says. For example, if your child comes home from daycare and claims their caregiver was mean, don’t immediately place the blame on your provider. Take the time to explain to your provider what your child said, and listen to their response. Perhaps your child was misbehaving and his or her provider needed to discipline them. If this is something you are OK with, then speak with your child and explain that they need to respect the rules while at daycare and listen to their provider. If you are not OK with how the provider handled a situation, calmly explain your feelings and try to come up with a solution you can both agree on in future situations.

The last thing you want to be with your childcare provider is confrontational. Remember, your daycare provider works for you and wants what is best for your child. If something isn’t working, talk it through together. Childcare providers want both you and your child to be happy.

Offer Praise

Something you also want to remember when figuring out how to communicate with your childcare provider is letting them know positive things about your child. Perhaps you only communicate with your childcare provider when there is an issue or concern. Try to remember to reach out and offer praise every once in a while. If your child has a particularly great day at daycare, shoot your provider a thank you email or mention it during drop-off the next day.

The key is letting them know they are doing a good job, and that they are valued.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to build a relationship and how you want to communicate with your childcare provider. Be involved and remember that your childcare provider wants to offer the best experience for your child. And only you can help make that happen since you know your child best!

Preschool vs Daycare: What is the difference?

If your child has been home, either with you or a nanny, is ready for a structured program or more socialization and is around 3-4 years old you are probably thinking it’s time to enroll your child in preschool. Should you just be looking at preschools? Or can a  daycare offer the same thing? How do you decide between preschool vs daycare and what are the differences? We break it down below to help you understand whether or not a program is offering what you need.

It’s All in a Name

Programs often use the names “preschool” and “daycare” interchangeably so don’t just judge a program by its name. You have to actually look at what they are offering to understand if it’s going to meet your needs. Preschools and daycares both need to be state certified as well as meet any other state guidelines and safety protocols. Daycares may offer a preschool like program for 3-5 year olds even though they also provide childcare for infants and toddlers. A center may use the word “preschool” in its name but offer longer hours and before and after care like a daycare would. Look at the specifics of the program and not just the name to find out if it’s the right program for your child.

Educational Philosophy

Probably the biggest difference when trying to decide between a preschool vs. daycare is a focus on a curriculum or educational philosophy. A preschool typically follows a curriculum such as play-based or Montessori focused as examples. Preschools focus on preparing children for kindergarten. They offer more structured days with lessons.  Whereas a full-time daycare is more about providing care for a child during the day. Some daycares offer learning opportunities but children often are also spending time with free play, nap and meals. Both daycares and preschools offer socialization skills for your child, which is important during their time away from you.

Age Requirements

Another big difference between preschool vs. daycare is the age you can enroll your child. A daycare can provide care for children as young as six to 12 weeks old. A daycare can also include before or after school care for children up to 12 years old. Preschool is usually offered for children from 3 years old to 5 years old. A daycare may transition toddlers into a more preschool like environment at their own center at the age of 3. This could include incorporating things like morning meeting or circle time, learning about letters and numbers and teaching kids more independent skills.

Daycares typically separate children based on their age groups, and provide age-appropriate activities. Preschools also have classes based on ages.

Teachers and Staff

For a center that is preschool only it will likely have teachers who have degrees in early childhood education. And while a daycare will have certified staff members, teaching degrees usually aren’t required. Keep in mind that the licensing requirements are the same so a preschool doesn’t have to require teachers to have a degree in early childhood education. 

The staff-to-children ratio can be different at a preschool vs. a daycare depending on how the daycare is set-up. As children get older the capacity limits increase and the child: teacher ratio also increases. Both a daycare and a preschool are allowed to have upto twenty children in a classroom with a minimum of two teachers. A center-based daycare may look very similar to a preschool in class size and teacher ratios. However an in-home daycare is often much smaller and has a range of ages and will not necessarily have a separate room for older children.

Preschool vs. Daycare

Hours

A preschool will most likely follow a school calendar. This means it could be closed on holidays, weekends and even summer months. The hours are different too, and could be much shorter than a daycare. They usually run for several hours a day. And children may only attend a few days a week.

Daycares offer full-time care for children. The hours can vary. Some even offer extended hours to accommodate parents who have longer workdays. Most are not closed on holidays, and offer care during school breaks, which is a perfect option for working parents. In addition, a daycare may offer great flexibility. Perhaps you only need before or after care for school. A daycare can provide that.

Services

Since a daycare is a place for parents to leave their children to be cared for, the services offered are different from a preschool. Meals may be provided at a daycare, whereas a preschool, since it’s a shorter program, might only have snack time.

Daycares usually offer drop-in care, where a preschool, since it is more structured, usually has a set start and end time.

Preschools, since they are for older children, require students to be potty-trained, whereas daycares offer diapering services.Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what is best for your child and your family. Do you want a more structured environment that will get your child ready for kindergarten? Or do you need full childcare while you head back to work? You should also compare pricing when looking at a preschool vs. daycare. You can use this guide to evaluate the value of a preschool vs. daycare.

Delaying Preschool or Daycare Because of COVID-19? Here’s What To Do.

While many parents start looking for a daycare as soon as they find out they are expecting some parents are delaying preschool or daycare and are choosing to start with a nanny. Before the age of two babies can get a great deal of social interaction from just their immediate family and a caregiver. Eventually, parents start to look at daycare to provide an opportunity to truly practice playing with others. 

With the onset of COVID-19, many parents have been forced to delay their toddler’s entry into daycare or preschool. Also, with fewer in-person classes and storytimes available, toddlers are missing out on valuable opportunities to practice their social skills and interact with other kids their age. 

A big concern for parents who are delaying preschool or daycare is that without the typically structured setting of a daycare or class their child is going to fall behind. However, there are things you can do at home with your child to help mimic some of the things they would learn at daycare. Practicing these things right now will help your child be more prepared when you do feel ready to send them. 

Keep a Schedule or a Routine

Daycares tend to follow a routine or a schedule at all ages. This helps the child understand what to expect and not be taken by surprise when it’s time to end one activity and transition to the next. Parents can implement a similar routine at home. Every minute does not have to be planned out but having fixed times for meals, snacks, rest, and free play can help establish calm and order at home. It also helps kids gain independence as they begin to anticipate what’s next and take pride in knowing what to do next. 

Practice Sharing

Let’s say you’re coloring with your toddler and he or she demands the red crayon. It can be easy to quickly hand it over to avoid a massive tantrum but that’s not going to teach your child how to interact with his or her peers. Instead, tell your child that you are still using it and will hand it over when you are done. Then take 10-15 seconds to finish up and give your child the crayon. They will start to learn how to ask and how to wait when someone is not done using an item they need.

Establish Mealtime Rules

It might be ok for your child to walk around the house with a snack in one hand and a favorite toy in another but at daycare, it’s expected that they sit down and eat nicely with others. Snack time and meal times are a chance to connect with others in a different way than they do when they play. Create a routine where you eat meals together at the table. Perhaps serve certain items family-style so that your toddler can help practice serving themselves and others. You can even infuse math into snacktime by helping your toddler count crackers or pretzels for both of you! 

Encourage Independence

At daycare, your child will be one of several which means that they will not be able to ask the caregiver to do everything for them. Find ways to help your child become more independent. Here are a few skills to work on:

  • Can they take their shoes on and off or can they at least bring you their shoes and socks? 
  • Can they put on their coats themselves? (Tip: Google “coat flip trick” for an easy way to teach this)
  • Can they throw out their own trash?
  • Do they help clean-up when it’s time to end an activity?
  • Do they help with chores like putting away laundry or wiping down a table?
  • Do they know how to ask for help?
  • Can they wash their hands with soap?

Practice Using Messy Materials

As a parent, we often avoid activities that have a high likelihood of making a mess. That includes things like glue, paint, glitter, markers, etc. While parents love receiving a homemade craft from their child they also love it when their child makes them at daycare and they don’t have to be the ones to clean-up. However, it’s important that you give your child plenty of opportunities to practice using messy materials. Learning how to use things like glue and scissors is an important milestone in childhood development. Teach your child how to make a mess responsibly by putting down a mat or using a tray to help contain the materials. Invest in a child-sized smock or keep an old large t-shirt handy when doing things like painting. Lastly, make sure you are not cleaning up alone. Your toddler will love the opportunity to wash brushes in the sink and sweep up sequins (warning: there is no magic vacuum that is able to pick up all the sequins). 

Delaying preschool or daycare is a tough decision for any parent. But you shouldn’t focus too much on how much your child is missing right now due to COVID-19. Providing a safe and loving environment at home will help your child grow even without the presence of peers. Remember that most parents are going through the same thing as you so it’s likely that being around peers will be a new experience for many children. Lastly, children are incredibly adaptable and will quickly get up to speed when they do have the chance to be more social.