Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Parenting Pointers: Finding Quality Daycare

With a combined forty-five years  of experience in childhood education and development, Daycare experts, Jacqueline N. Rioux  and Jo-Ann Parylak have co-authored a vital new book called  Dear Daycare Parent: The Must-Have Guide to Daycare for Working Parents . The book informs readers of all the things they need to know from drop off to pick-up with practical information not found anywhere else in the childcare field.

Putting a child in Daycare is a scary proposition, filled with surprises, especially for first time parents. Most parents do extensive research to find the very best daycare centers, but are not always prepared for what happens when they drop their child off.  It’s about asking the right questions, preparing for the unexpected, taking action, communicating with the staff and so much more! 

This essential guide was developed from decades of tips, hand-written by the authors on index cards and shared with parents. It contains 105 tips (like knowing your child’s clothes must be labeled, or not sending along a toothbrush with a toddler) and real-life examples to quickly enhance a child’s experience and better manage the work-life balance.

I had a chance to interview the authors to get great tips for parents.

What additional stress does it cause to have kids in daycare?

Stress is going to be different for everyone, but one of the most common stressors is the financial burden of daycare. For many new parents the amount they pay can be a bit of an eye-opener! Parents want to find a quality program that fits their budget and that is not always easy. Another concern that adds stress is whether or not the whole daycare experience will work out: can parents feel at ease with the decision to place their child at a particular center? In some cases parents get overwhelmed when they take too much time out of work because their child seems to get slammed with every virus that comes along. Lastly, the simple act of getting out of the house on time in the morning with all the child’s belongings can be a struggle and will certainly add stress to a parent’s already hectic life.

How can working parents choose a good child care option?

We always recommend that parents do their homework when choosing child care. The first step is to ask for references from co-workers, neighbors, friends and relatives. The second step is to visit the facility, observe, and ask questions. Check the licensing status with the state to ensure they are in fact licensed and that no major complaints have been filed against them. Finally, listen to your gut. You are the best person to know if the facility is the right place for your child.

What can parents do to ease transitions between daycare and home?

Keep in mind that starting something new can be a little scary, not only for parents, but for children as well. We always suggest parents visit a new program first by themselves without their child to get to know the staff a little bit and to ease their own transition. Then, visit the facility with your child a few times, at different times of the day. Thirty minutes is enough time to say hello, meet a few people, and give your child some familiarity. Read books to your child about going to daycare. One we like is “Llama Llama Misses Mama.” You can find many books on the subject and it will give your child a fun glimpse into what the day may be like. Lastly, consider leaving something with your child that they can hold on to during moments when they are feeling sad. This often helps them during those first few weeks of transition. Some ideas for these items include family photos, a piece of clothing with your scent or perfume on it, a favorite stuffed animal or toy, or security blanket.

What do parents often forget when they start sending their children to daycare?

One of the main things parents forget to do is label everything. Your child will be joining a large community and things can so easily be mixed up or misplaced. Many children will have the same lunchbox, for example, with the latest movie character on it – it’s difficult to tell them apart. Label lunchboxes and the containers of food inside of them. Also, diapers, wipes, bottles, water bottles, coats, extra clothing – you bring it in, it needs a name on it folks! Another item that is often forgotten is spare clothes, and boy do we need those! We suggest leaving 3 changes of clothes including pants, shirts, underwear and socks. Leaving a sweatshirt on hand is also a good idea. Get in the habit of looking in your child’s cubby at the end of the week to see what might need to be restocked and make a note of it.

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