The option of childcare centers/ preschools
is a godsend to many nuclear families that now have both
the father and the mother working at full-time jobs. Especially in cases where the family lives in a city (or
country) away from their parents, this is one of the most economical and safe options.
The child becomes independent faster. Seeing children of their own age talking, walking, playing,
, eating by themselves, etc. encourages them to imitate and try the same and helps
builds social skills
better. Most children who have been home for a majority of their young
lives are only used to seeing family members or close friends frequently. Often, this leads to them
being shy or even afraid of other people. Being in daycare allows them to play with or alongside
others their age, share (or sometimes fight over) the same toys, stand up for themselves and
generally widens their social interactions with other adults and children making them more open to
The child builds immunity faster. Children get to interact with others their own age in daycare.
Catching a cold or infections from others is common, especially for children from sheltered
environments. To an extent, this builds their system’s immunity against future illnesses and most of
these children may fall considerably less ill when they are older and in school. Of course, if the child
consistently falls seriously sick, it is best for the parents
to get an appropriate pediatrician’s advice
on the timeline for their child’s system to be more developed to withstand the common illnesses
and look for other options of care.
It gives the child a daily routine. Childcare helps structure a child’s life. Staying up late and skipping
naps is common when a child is at home since they can fuss at parents. However, the childcare can
lead to a structured day with the child eating, napping and playing at appropriate times as a child is
less inclined to argue or fuss at the teacher
. A well-rested child is a more playful and cheerful and
rigorous play will help the child tire out enough to sleep at an appropriate time at night.
It gives the grandparents a break. Disclaimer* This is a personal take and there can be different
opinions. Taking care of children is exhausting and time-consuming, even at a young age. For
grandparents, it is even tougher to constantly run after an especially energetic/cranky/fussy child. At
an age when they should be enjoying retirement/traveling etc. it is important not to tie them down
with taking care of children. Sure, it is beneficial for them and the child to spend time together.
However, expecting them to be full-time babysitters may not be fair. They have done their part
raising their children and now it is the next generation’s turn to raise theirs while letting
grandparents deal with only the fun parts.
Here are some points to consider if you are thinking of putting your child in a childcare center:
Age – It is important to know what age is best for your child to be placed at daycare
. 12 to 18
months can be considered the ideal age because by then most children can communicate their
needs to an extent and also have steadily increasing curiosity towards discovering new things.
However, it also largely depends on the home environment
and the constraints of the parents’ job
as to when the child should be enrolled.
Health – A child that has been prone to fall sick easily in the first few months after they were born or
has been in a sheltered environment with little or no interaction with other small children may have
lower immunity. In such cases, an option could be to slowly build up the hours of daycare over a
month or two (or as long as it takes) so as to test the child’s capacity for resistance and help him/her
to transition safely from home to the childcare environment.
Transitional Anxiety – As any adult would feel when suddenly put in an unfamiliar environment, it is
common for children to have anxiety or even fear when initially placed in daycare
. Expecting the
child to be completely comfortable from the first day itself is unreasonable. Here too, instead of
putting him/her in for the whole day right from the beginning, the option of slowly building up the
hours is effective. It will help ease the child’s fear of the parent leaving when they see that the
parent is definitely coming back for them and isn’t abandoning them. In a few weeks (maybe
sooner) the child will begin to take an interest in the other children, new toys and activities
and eventually enjoy being dropped off.
Parental Guilt – This is an inevitable part of the initial days of putting your child in daycare
. A parent
feels guilt and sadness just as much as the child when sending them for daycare
. But eventually,
knowing that the child is in a safe and happy environment should ease the fears. Parents inevitably
end up valuing and enjoying the quality time spent with children after work more.
Questions one must ask while selecting a childcare center:
Hygiene – How well and how often do they clean toys, games, bedsheets, etc. How do they maintain
hygiene during diaper changes? A good hygiene policy helps keep the children healthy
when little children tend to chew on everything in sight, a good cleaning policy is important.
Sick policy – When are sick children told to be kept home? How are children with fevers or illnesses
isolated? How are medications administered if necessary? These ensure safety from sick children
and the comfort of your own child when sick.
Notifications – Do they have a camera to keep an eye on the children? Can cameras be accessed by
parents? Do they give the end of the day reports noting how much and what the child ate, how much
the child slept, etc? Knowing details of the child’s day helps comfort the parents and can give them a
chance to make other arrangements if necessary. For example: if the child isn’t eating, then the
parents may pack a favorite meal for some days to ensure that the child will have a full lunch.
Training of the teachers/caretaker – Having teachers that are well trained is obviously one of the
most important requirements to be able to be kind, friendly and caring toward children, to teach
basics play responsibly, intervene in fighting and provide help in case of emergencies.
Number and age of children in their class
– This will ensure that the child is in an appropriate group
of peers and that there are enough teachers to take care of the number of children. Also, the
smaller the class
, the lower the chances of illnesses being spread.
Transitions – How can they help a child transition from home to daycare or from one class
Putting a child in daycare can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating process. But a slow and steady
pace will help the child get accommodated and eventually it will become a fun part of their day and will
be extremely beneficial in helping them to become mature and responsible for their future interaction
with the real world.