Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Working Mom Wednesday: In Praise of Day Care
A year and a half later, I have to say I'm actually a big fan of day care. More than just a fact of life, I actually see it as a big positive for Kate, and I hope that maybe my reasons for that will offer a little comfort or hope to moms who aren't so thrilled about dropping their kids off in the morning.
1. Independence. Sad as it may sound, it's actually very important for your child to learn how to be without you. It's inevitable that, at some point, you will have to be away from your child for a time, and if that one hour a week that your child is in the church nursery is the only time she is away from you, it will be harder for everyone involved. Learning to adjust to new people and trust that Mommy will come back is important for a child's development.
2. Social skills. In that same vein, being with other children and adults besides your immediate family helps children learn valuable social skills like sharing, waiting, following directions, and making friends. I'm an only child and was not around many other children until I started school, and I have always had trouble making friends and socializing in groups. A lot of that is probably nature--Kate seems much more outgoing than me anyway--but I still feel like it is really good for her to be around other children three days a week.
3. Organized activities. A lot of day cares now bill themselves as "child development centers," meaning that they are aiming to provide not just babysitting but educational enrichment. Kids learn through play, so it's not that I expect or want teachers to drill toddlers on the alphabet and such, but I think the intentionality and organization of the day encourages learning in ways I probably couldn't if I kept Kate at home myself. The structure and group setting of activities like circle time to sing songs and read books as a group, practicing sign language, and eating family-style at a table are good experiences for her social and cognitive development, I think.
4. Both parents can work. This is the obvious one, since a two-salaried household is the main reason parents put their kids in day care to begin with, but it seems that sometimes we view it as a necessary evil. That's how I saw it when Kate was first born. I loved my job and didn't want to quit, so clearly we had to find some outside child care, but I saw it as a concession or somehow choosing my own happiness over Kate's. Now, I almost feel like I would want Kate in some sort of childcare program several hours a week even if I didn't work outside the home. That's how valuable I think it is for her!
I know that if Mommy feels like she has to work and spends each day wishing she could stay home, or if a child is so shy that she really has trouble in day care, these reasons won't be much of a consolation. But if you're on the fence, I hope these benefits will help you feel better about your decision to put your child in day care.
What has been your experience with day care or Mother's Day Out?