Making childcare a good experience

Childcare, for both parents and children, can be a pleasant experience or it can be pure torture. The experience, positive or negative, depends upon mom, dad and child.

Make drop-off time snappy. The best way to handle drop off is to bring the child in to the center, kiss him on the head, tell him you will see him later and leave recommends Diane Gottsman, author of Pearls of Polish. Don’t loiter, talk to teachers, negotiate with your child about leaving or physically pick him back up after you have brought him in and settled him down.  If you want to carry on a conversation with fellow parents or teachers, do so outside the building or in a place where you child can not see you.  Gottsman says, “Children tend to cry until the parent is out the door and then they’re fine.”

Keep structure in a child’s day. Ask what is a typical day like at the facility? Know what is important educationally and developmentally to you ahead of time and ensure that is part of the daily activities, suggests Laura Olson, vice president of education for national Kiddie Academy. If a provider responds that there isn’t a set schedule, this should be a red flag to you as a parent. Structure and routines are essential to a child’s development.

Limit television and computer time
. Know how often children watch TV or work on computers during the day recommends Olsen. While computers, TV and videos can sometimes be beneficial to a child, it is important that they are used in limitation and that they are relevant to current lessons, continues Olsen. Children need to interact with peers to build social skills, rather than sit alone at a computer or disengaged at a TV screen. Parents should also look for teachers who use TV or video to engage children in discussions of the content while watching and not using the time to catch up on other work.
Build friendships together.  Kids are not the only ones making friends when they go off to preschool, believes Sue Adair, Director of Education for Goddard Systems, Inc. Parents are building friendships and support networks, as well. To build family friendships, take part in the facilities’ charity or community outreach events.

School associations are often integral in organizing canned food drives, gently worn coat drives and so forth. If your childcare center plans events, such as Family Appreciation Day, Thanksgiving Celebration or other holiday festivities, be sure to attend. Not only will you get to know the teachers and other staff members, but you’ll have the opportunity to discover the kids your child has befriended and sees five days a week.

Mary Jo Rulnick is an author and freelance writer from Pittsburgh.