I found myself praising Ennis’ teachers yesterday. Though his nap was disrupted, he stayed in his bed relaxing and keeping himself entertained. I did not teach him this. I kept waiting for him to run out screaming, yet each time I peeked in, he was quietly playing. I was shocked, grateful, and amazed. While no one can provide the quality and intensive care for my child that I can, child care does provide some things that I absolutely love.
1. Ennis is learning to clean up after himself Ennis has picked up some pretty handy tricks at school like I can say “It’s time to clean up” and he will actually start cleaning up. I credit peer pressure. They do several room cleanings a day, so he’s used to it. He’s not a pro or anything, but he tries and for a not quite 22 month old that’s remarkable.
2. He is on a consistent schedule. Since they do the same routine every day, when the weekend comes, Ennis still wants and expects 2 hours of quiet time for his nap. As long as we’re active in the morning, Ennis usually takes his same 2 hour nap in the same time he’d take it at school.
3. Teachers and kids at daycare are like an extended family We’re over 4 hours away from our closest family and most are 12 hours away, so Ennis doesn’t get to see cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles often, but he gets to see his school family 5 days a week. His teachers love him and his friends and vice versa. He talks about them all the time and has fallen asleep reciting his class roster.
4. He is learning socialization and empathy Spending the better part of their current lives together has made Ennis and his classmates very close. I got this message one morning from another mom: “Alicia, Ennis was worried about J when I dropped him off. J was sleepy so they pulled out his cot and Ennis came over, patted him, then climbed up on his cot with him. I wish I’d had my camera!” Though they still struggle with sharing as toddlers do, I’ve seen these kids run across the playground to check on a friend who is crying. The sweet hugs they give each other unprompted totally melt me.
5. He is in a diverse group of children Diversity is in their mission statement, and they carry it out well in terms of race, socioeconomic status, abilities, beliefs, and nationality. Ennis is learning that the world does not only look and act like his family and our social circles. He gets longterm meaningful interactions, not negotiated or influenced by our presence.
6. The daycare has top Ennis has spent more time using an iPad than I have. His class has one. They also have a sand table, which we don’t. All kinds of blocks, books, toys, and activities that he wouldn’t otherwise get. Since he goes to a lab school connected to a university, he has not only teachers with college degrees, but also undergraduate and graduate students work lab hours doing group and one-on-one activities to enrich the classes. One of Ennis’ favorite students this semester has been a male pre-med student taking a child development course. The center and teachers also arrange classroom visitors like the firemen who regularly bring their truck by for the kids to climb in.
So while I’d absolutely love to stay home full time, I definitely appreciate the benefits our childcare provides while we are using it. At school, Ennis has two fulltime teachers (plus their help) devoted to providing an engaging and quality learning environment. Somehow these miracle workers get through each day without the benefit of a TV or Netflix or repeated viewings of comedy music videos. Somethings I could do my best to replicate, but others it would be impossible. When done right, group care can be very positive and I’m glad we’ve been able to be where we are while I work.
Alicia lives in a small college town that often challenges her resolve to live as simply and as stress-free as possible. When she’s not working, rereading the same children’s books, cooking, or wondering how crunchy she’s become, she’s busy updating her site, liciabobesha.com. You can follow her on facebook.