You've heard all the nasty rumors about day care. Too many kids and too few caregivers. Lots of sneezing and wheezing. That little guy who's always grabbing your child's toy.
Everyone's got a story. But you have to get back to work and you have no choice. What's a good parent to do? Let's concentrate on the positive. There are plenty of benefits to sending your child to day care.
If you consider some of these benefits, it will help you come to terms with your own decision, whether you have a choice or not. Once you understand, you'll feel you're helping your child grow into a well rounded, happy child instead of feeling guilty about sticking him in day care. Babies need interaction with other children. It's never too early to start engaging your son in activities with other children, whether his own age, toddlers or older children. Learning to interact with other kids prepares your son for his first real school experience. Day care is a gentler environment, there are less rules and more flexibility than strict teachers may impose in school.
Children benefit from day care by learning self-control, how to get along with others, and how to share. They begin to learn all about friendship. Without day care, your daughter only knows you; you are her whole world.
How scary would it be to get into school at age four or five and find out that Mom isn't there with her? Children benefit from day care by expanding their world to include people other than their parents. Separation anxiety will be lessened (or not an issue at all) when your child enters school if she's been in day care. She's already used to being away from you for some time during the day. She's learned how to make new friends and can be content without your undivided attention. The transition from home to school is far less difficult for those who've experienced day care.
In addition to learning socialization skills, your son may also have the opportunity to learn some of the basics such as the alphabet and numbers, and he's always increasing his vocabulary. This pre-preschool learning environment gives your child an understanding of what will be expected of him once he enters kindergarten. He learns to sit and listen, and is able to accept the information that will be thrust upon him in school. He learns the value of teamwork and to respect the opinions and emotions of others. Entering school for the first time is challenging for all children, but those who have been in day care benefit by already having exposure to a classroom-like environment.
Once your daughter enters school, day care can help with homework. Some day care facilities even offer after-school extracurricular activities like scout meetings, dance class, martial arts and on-site gymnastics instruction. Once she is in school her horizons begin to broaden.
As you can see, there are many benefits to placing your child in a licensed, qualified day care situation. And remember that even though your child is away from you for a portion of his day, it is really the parents that make the most difference in his life. When he gets home from day care after spending a long day away from you, he will be bursting to tell you all about his day. Ask him questions about his friends, his teachers, his subjects.
He will share his day with you no matter what his age is, and getting him to vividly describe his day is exciting to a child especially if you show interest. Of course you're interested, aren't you? After all, this child, a mini version of yourself, is taking on the world one day at a time, and the choices and desires he has will be a direct reflection of you. Make the most of that opportunity while you can - children are only children once.
Karen Fusco is the co-author of "Busy Moms: The Heart and Soul of a Home", an ebook filled with time-saving and stress-reducing tips and ideas to help build a stronger home, a stronger family and a stronger you. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.