Locating childcare can be a bad dream for first time parents, but a nightmare for parents who have experienced poor childcare and are looking again for a second or third child.
Let’s be up front - The real questions are: What do I really want for my child and do I really think what I want exists? As an early childhood educator for over twenty years and the co-owner of an early childhood place right here in Evansville called The Garden School, I think what most parents are looking for is a safe, fun, second home for their child.
Parents want a place where a child can feel loved no matter what. They want a familiar, user friendly, exciting place where a child can grow, learn, explore and relax all at the same time. No, it’s not a dreamy unrealistic approach to childcare. It’s exactly what parents should look for and in fact demand.
My partner and I believe that childcare should be like a big friendly home, and parents should feel as at home as their children. The problem is, somewhere along the way we were bamboozled into thinking childcare outside the home should resemble a hospital with uniformed attendants, lunch on a tray and a front desk the size of New Jersey.
Let’s face it; children aren’t by nature quiet any more than they are ill. Childcare is noisy and busy and sometimes it’s messy, which means that children are playing, which means they are discovering, and discovering is learning. Any good curriculum should send kids home excited because they’re learning. They should be dirty and used up because they’re experiencing things all the time.
Any child who goes home ready to start his day is a child who has wasted his day, and wasting too many days will put him intellectually, socially, and spiritually behind. Don’t expect your little darling to sit on a shelf all day in his crinolines and pressed pants. Better he falls asleep in the car on the way home; that way you know he’s spent his day being busy.
A childcare facility will be more inclined to do things with children if there is a wide open interaction between families and teachers. Children should form strong bonds not unlike they create with favorite relatives. A child should be able to creep into a provider’s lap simply because.
That won’t happen if there’s a new provider or teacher every couple of days or weeks. Clue: a good place retains its teachers because it’s a good place to work. Personally, I think if either you or your child doesn’t know your provider’s name – you should run for your life.
If you ever arrive and don’t know an adult who is there, ASK! If the introduction is not satisfactory – run and take your child with you! Parents should always feel welcome - any time, any day, any where. Parents are a childcare’s biggest asset, and any provider or teacher who doesn’t know that shouldn’t work in childcare.
How do you go about finding good childcare? Use the phone, the gossip line and then visit as many places as you can before choosing. Don’t call, just walk in. And walk in at 3:00 on Friday – it’s the worst time in any childcare facility because the week is spent and everyone’s tired.
Then ask: What do I see, hear, smell, and who’s there to greet me and who’s doing what? Are the kids still busy and active? Are the providers still busy and active? Then go back two or three times and take your child; it’s his place too.