Considering Doing the Thing I Said I'd Never Do


#1

Another school year is on the way, and Allegra is once again searching for childcare. As some may remember, I had to put the kids in a daycare center for six weeks at the end of last school year. I hated doing it, but it turned out to be not so bad. My daughter in particular, really liked being able to play with other kids. Since they liked it so much, I tentatively opened up our search to daycare centers as well as nannies. I still had a pretty strong preference for a nanny though, for several reasons which I will bullet point for your convenience.

*Generally cheaper for two kids.
*I can control the safety of my home.
*I can control who comes into my home.
*The kids can eat what I want them to eat.
*The kids can sleep when they’re ready to sleep and wake when they’re ready to wake.
*The kids are disciplined the way I prefer.
*Because the nanny only has my two kids plus her own, there is a lot more time for playing and learning.

  • My kids don’t have to follow a schedule and can stay focused on the activities of their choosing for as long as they want (within reason).
    *My daughter’s special medical needs can be attended to in privacy.

So, anyway, there is this daycare center next to my husband’s work. I called to inquire about it because it was so close and I thought, well, my daughter did really like playing with the other kids. The first time I spoke to them, I pretty much figured it was a “no way”, because they told me the price for my two kids would be upward of $600 a week, which we can’t afford. However, the next day, the director called and offered us a significantly generous scholarship. Even so, the total came to about $85 a week more than we had budgeted to pay. However, since she had gone to that trouble on our behalf, I thought we should at least see the place. So we went. Oh my. It’s kind of hard to explain, so I’ll link to their website.

So, massive playground, music, dance, art studios, library, cooking class, garden, bowling alley, indoor gym, and I don’t even know what all else!

I asked about their nap policy (the other school’s nap policy traumatized my son so he now cried at the sight of a cot.) They assured me that they wouldn’t force him to stay in the cot and would provide him with quiet toys if he wasn’t ready to sleep. They also assured me that they could handle my daughter’s medical issue discretely.

So, basically it comes down to a matter of philosophy and money. Is being able to play with other kids (some of which may not be very nice) and do incredible impressive activities more important than the calm, controlled environment in my home, where they might not get to do quite as much, but have the freedom to focus on what they like for as long as it suits them? And if so, is it so important that it’s worth what we’ll have to give up in order to afford an extra $85 a week? Any thoughts?

PS- Obviously we prayed about it. I prayed about it quite a lot before I even considered looking at childcare centers. I guess I’m just hoping for some different perspectives or wisdom which would make the choice really clear.


#2

Wow, that does sound tempting…
How old are your children again?


#3

I would say that the decision is harder for your son than your daughter.

I would also note, you’re already dealing with a 1:4 caregiver ratio with your two and your nanny’s two. Most states have a 1:6 caregiver ratio minimum and that dosn’t include the support staff that do many of the tasks you or your caregiver would, cook, clean, etc. So the ratio in all reality is going to be fairly similar.

I would think that besides your daughter’s special toiling needs, the environment is probably better suited to a pre-k child than a nanny who has to deal with 3 children much younger than her. (and at 4, a 2yo is “much younger”) I’m guessing that in all reality she not only got more adult interaction but healthier peer interaction.

I don’t think many of your points are really that far off.

-cheaper, but $85
-yes, but these centers look pretty darn safe
-absolutely! But if anyone out of the ordinary were to appear at the daycare center, they’d probably have something to say
-do they have overbearing food policies at this daycare?
-it sounds like the daycare is good about naps
-discipline is tricky, but not insurmountable
-a 1:4 ratio compared to a 1:6 isn’t that great (see above)
-it looks, from the website, that there is plenty of unscheduled play.
-they sound able to handle your daughters needs

The biggest perk? This is near your husband’s office. He can be available to them. He will ride to work with them and have that time with them. He can take a lunch and check in. He can attend any number of endless “not really school” programs that only last 20 minutes anyway. That alone is an amazing perk.


#4

4 and 2, but they’ll be turning 5 and 3 in October.


#5

It’s right next door to his work, which is why I checked it out in the first place. But both are within ten minutes of our house, so not a significant commute. The ratio is inconsistent. Our state requirements are 1:10 if there are 4yos and 1:8 if there are 2yos. The room my daughter is in could go as high as 1:24, if everyone is five. However, the lady said their center policy is 1:8 in each classroom. Each classroom has two teachers. When they go to the special rooms, they have 1 to 3 extra adults, so that skews their stated 1:6 ratio. Most of the day is spent in 1:8 ratio.


#6

PS- We can’t afford a nanny and pre-school, so whatever we choose, we are choosing for both.


#7

My older two, same age difference as yours did not go to preschool, or childcare. I think it had an effect on my son, he was the firstborn. He loved Kindergarten because of all the kids there! He was a young 5, his birthday the day before school started. He may have been a little socially immature because he only wanted to play and not work. My daughter was fine.

When my second son was born 9 years later, we sent him to half day preschool the year before kindergarten to spare a repeat of my older sons experience. We probably didn’t need to, at least not for the same reason.

All of this to say, I would recommend some time with other kids in childcare/daycare before kindergarten begins. Get that “playing” thing, or socializing thing out of the way. :slightly_smiling_face:


#8

Why do you suppose, of all things, they decided to have a bowling alley? Doesn’t that seem a little random? Why not a room with a climbing gym and a ball pit? Or some inflatables? Is there some pedagogical reason they thought toddlers and preschoolers needed bowling skills to be successful in life? Or was the daycare designed by the early-childhood version of Prince Chulalongkorn and when someone said, “Bowling? Why bowling for daycare center?” he responded, “I like bowling.”


#9

The center looks like it caters to after school and summer programs. Bowling-especially cosmic bowling- is “in” with teens and tweens.


#10

Cooking class often translates to toddlers putting things in crockpots and you smiling as you try to eat it for dinner. It’s how I learned my kid is a heavy-handed seasoner and that salt and sugar are often used interchangeably by people just beginning to learn their letters.

Unexpected consequences of daycare, my son learned to read. Daycare had its perks.


#11

If the nanny can’t get her serious library activity time or join a preschool play group that meet for at least a few hours a week then you may be better off going with this for the sake of your daughter.

Kindergarten is now what first grade was. Kids tend to start older, but kindergarten is no longer fun play time and there are a tremendous amount of expectations going in.

I was a 4 yo kindergarten kid and was not the youngest or oldest although the vast majority turned 5. Today it’s normal for kindergarten to be 5/6. The curriculum is closer to what I did in first.


#12

They do have an after-school program that apparently can go up to age 12. Most of the kids in the photos looked closer to 8 or 9. I would have gone with inflatables and maybe a climbing wall myself, but I guess bowling is okay too. I guess if we go, we’ll find out how much my daughter likes it. They say they get to go twice a week. THe 2yos don’t do the bowling room yet.


#13

I work at the school where she’ll be going and I think she’s probably already on the higher end of preparedness. She still has a year to go too. Our kindergarten has a lot more of play-oriented learning than a lot of the ones you hear about. Although, it IS true that the reading expectations are higher than they used to be. The sad thing is, a lot of kids burn out early because their brains aren’t wired for decoding at such a young age. There’s a lot of evidence that supports the theory that attempting to force phonetics skills that early doesn’t improve long-term reading abilities and may discourage reading for enjoyment, which is one of the highest predictors of developing high reading and writing skills.


#14

Probably too much liability. I take my kids to a gym with a wall and such and they require adults have a 2:1 to kids ratio.


#15

I agree about the reading. I was a reading teacher at the time and wasn’t working with him much on it yet for the reasons you state. Thats why I was so surprised.


#16

According to the sign on the door, zucchini (which they grew in the garden) is the ingredient of the month. It’s just a guess, but I suspect the item they are making will be zucchini bread. The photos suggest that a lot of the cooking is actually baking. I saw cookies, mini pizzas, and apparently last month’s ingredient was strawberries. They had an ice cream freezer and they’d made strawberry ice cream. I would suspect they’d only put out the ingredients the kids need for the recipe they’re supposed to make.


#17

We’ve got one in our gym. Technically, our school has a 1:26 ratio, though we don’t ever get that full. I think the climbing wall is safer than the ropes! And don’t get me started on the roller skating unit! Yikes!


#18

Hey, some kids are ready early! Big Bird taught my son to read.


#19

Between that Storybots and Odd Squad we are covered!


#20

Oi, I HATE Odd Squad. That show is like watching grass grow!


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