Thursday, April 14, 2011

10 Things Childcare Proviers Won't Tell You

I found this article today on Yahoo! and seeing as though a lot of my bloggy friends are parents, and I consider myself well versed in the world of childcare, I couldn't help bust post about it.  My thoughts are italicised and colored. Keep in mind that I am NOT a parent, but I've worked in childcare for about 5 years total off an on since I was 18.  I've done everything from being break relief, a infant teacher (lead and assistant), a preschool lead teacher and director.  I also babysit for two families fairly frequently in my spare time.

So below is the article and it can also be found here.

You leave your child with them day in and day out, and you trust them completely. But there are some things even your childcare provider won't tell you — about your child, your peers, and maybe even yourself.

The following are 10 things your baby-sitter, nanny, and day-care operator won't tell you. (To protect their anonymity, some of the childcare providers interviewed asked that we identify them only by first name.)

1. The way you treat your childcare provider matters
You might be in a rush to drop off your child at daycare or pick them up on your way home, but that's no reason to not take a moment to be kind to your childcare provider. "The parent should speak to the childcare provider in the way they want their child to act: Courteous, use pleases and thank-you's," said Mathilda Williams, who runs an in-home childcare facility in New Jersey. "Yes, the childcare provider works for you, but that doesn't mean they can be treated without respect. If the child sees his mom or dad speaking to the provider without respect, this is what he will learn."

Yes, yes, yes!  Some of you have probably already read some of my comments about my one family that is a little less than generous with pay and only recently really started warming up to me.  You know what that means for that family?  I could be totally available, but if I don't feel like babysitting for them, I don't.  My main family however - I'll drop plans to babysit for them.  I admit, they spoil me, but YOU SHOULD SPOIL YOUR SITTER!  She's caring for your children!
In a day care setting, it's the parents that just flew in and flew out each day without even saying hello were often times the ones with the difficult children.  YES, your children are watching you and YES they're picking up your crappy manners.  Besides, don't you WANT to talk to your child care provider?  Don't you WANT to know how your child's day was?

2. Timing is important
Being on time to pick up your child matters not only to your daycare provider, but also to your children. "The child may think that he doesn't matter, because his mom or dad makes no effort to pick him up on time," says Williams. "Children learn very soon that their friends are picked up early or on time, and they are only picked up after everyone else has gone home already. They will resent that. "

Yes on this too.  It's not just timing because the children see that their friends are being picked up and they aren't but it's timing out of respect for the center and childcare employees.  WE HAVE LIVES OF OUR OWN MAN!  Some employees even have, *gasp* CHILDREN of their own.  Our day isn't over when all the kids are gone, we have to clean rooms, organize and plan for the next day.  You choosing to not pick your child up until 10 minutes AFTER the center closes isn't only hurting them, but it's making their caregivers resent you.
And we know if you're going to work or not - bringing your child in on your days off (TEACHERS) REALLY bothers us.  I understand for a couple of hours to run errands, but for the entire spring break?  Why did you even HAVE children?
As far as babysitting goes...I don't really care what time you get home, as long as you've got cable.

3. Nannies are not maids
Lisa, a nanny in Greenville, S.C., said she was fired when she refused do housework. "Because I didn't feel like cleaning the bathroom, they decided to put [the child] in daycare," she said. Nonetheless, families can confuse the role of a nanny. For her part, Tina Carey, a full-time nanny in the Boston area, once quit a job because she didn't want to polish the family's silver. "I said, 'No, ma'am. If you're looking for a housekeeper, that's not me.'"
"Nannies don't mind cleaning up the house," said Candi Wingate, president of Nannies4Hire, "But it's discouraging when another mess is waiting for them when they report to work the next morning. It is reasonable to expect a nanny to clean up after the children, but it is not customary to expect nannies to be responsible for all housecleaning tasks."

I understand this one - but it doesn't effect me and to be honest, I'm happy to pick up after the kids, do dishes or throw a load of laundry in FOR MY MAIN FAMILY and that is simply because I love them (they don't ask me to do any of that).  Anyone else however, not so much. 
When looking for a nanny I think it's important to draw a line, do you expect this person to do light housework?  If so you need to make that CLEAR.

4. They see other nannies yelling at — or ignoring — other children
For every childcare provider who engages her charges at the park, there are countless others chatting on their cell phones or talking with friends. Carey said she once witnessed a little boy nearly get hit by a car while his nanny napped on a blanket at the park. "There used to be a caregiver I would see at the school ... who would constantly scream at and berate the child she looked after," said a nanny named Jennifer. "I wondered how the child's parents could have hired a woman like that."

You want to hear something scary?  A lot of people that work in childcare centers DON'T even LIKE children.  So why are they there you ask?  Childcare centers have an extremely HIGH turnover rate - and as for the state of NY goes, there are a lot of regulations and qualifications one has to meet to be employed at a center.  What does that mean?  THEY WILL TAKE WHAT THEY CAN GET.  If you're looking for any kind of job and meet the qualifications, they WILL take you.
Childcare is a rough industry to be in, it's thankless, it's crappy pay and it's long tiring hours.  In my opinion, I don't know how people that don't like children make it, but some do and some have no problem yelling at your child or completely ignoring them.

5. A little thanks goes a long way
Don't skimp on the person who ties your children's shoelaces, fixes them a snack, and wipes their tears. "I spend five to seven days a week helping her raise her kids and for Christmas, I got a re-gifted mud mask," said Lisa. "I totally cried," she said. "I didn't even write a thank-you note."
Speaking of thank-you notes, you might want to send one from time to time. "When the nanny goes above and beyond, a thank-you note or little perk is a nice touch," said Wingate. "Nannies, like everyone else, need to feel that their good work does not go unnoticed."

This goes back to the first concept.  If you bring your child to daycare everyday, think about it, your child spends more time with THEM than they do YOU.  Eventhough you're paying $150+ a week on childcare, they're making about $10/hr or less.  ANYTHING you can do to let them know you care about what they do can go a long way.  I even have one of my preschoolers bring in flowers for me one day, and the same one brought me in a picture of him (I won't lie, I loved this kid more than anything), but it's those little touches that mean a lot to caregivers. 
Also, don't skimp on Christmas.  It doesn't need to be something bought, have your child make something.  We tear out our hair trying to think of something THEY can make for YOU the entire month of December!  One Christmas I had a parent give myself and my co-teacher a Coach wristlet with a giftcard and it made caring for her little shithead (seriously) a little bit easier after that. :)

6. You need to discipline your children
"Some parents don't believe in discipline," said Carey. But giving in to temper tantrums essentially tells kids that yelling and screaming will get them what they want. "Kids are smart," Carey said.
Of course, your kids might be better behaved when you're not around. "Why does your kid listen to me and not to you? Because I set firm rules and stick by them," said certified preschool teacher Dionne Obeso. "You're a softie, and your kids know it."

We are not in the business of telling you how to raise your children, but we know for sure if you a) spoil your child rotten and give them whatever they want or b) ignore the fact that your child is a little shithead.  You're not doing the child, yourself or US any favors by not having a good and consistant discipline system.
Think about when you were growing up, when spanking wasn't a form of abuse and you weren't cradled and told how special you were everyday, when not EVERYONE got a trophy or award?  Did you make it out OK?  I'm guessing you probably did.  NOTE:  I'm not endorsing spanking as a part of a discipline plan, but parents shouldn't be looked down on for choosing that method IMO.

Everyone is so afraid of damaging their child - you're parents, it's your JOB to damage your child and it's also your job to discipline them.
Oh, and on a side note, going into a store and pointing at an employee and saying, "See that girl???  If you don't behave, she'll kick you out!" is NOT OK.  Don't make ME the bully because YOU can't control your child.

7. Your child might be a bully
"If your children are getting into fights regularly, they are probably starting them," said Obeso. If you see bites or bruises on your child, ask your childcare provider who is actually hitting whom. They might be afraid to tell you on their own.

I've got nothing on this one - I have no problem telling you if your kid can't keep his or her hands off other kids OR adults.

8. Your kids need more attention … from you
Lisa works for a family where both parents travel often. "The kids do miss them," she said. But parents also need to be present when they are home. The 10-year-old boy she babysits was trying to read his father a story he wrote recently. "The dad had his face in his Blackberry and was like, 'Uh huh, uh huh.'" Lisa said the boy acts out when he's missing his parents. "He wakes up every night, at least twice in the night and asks for his mom. He starts to cry," she said.

This is a given, I mean, why have children if you don't care what they have to say or don't want to make an effort to spend time with them?  In a time where we are bombarded with technology, where people think they have to be working or connected 24/7 you NEED to put the phone down, shut off the computer and tv and DO SOMETHING as a family.  Cook a meal together, go for a walk around the block or have family reading time.  You CAN make it work if you want it to.

9. Your kid has a developmental problem
No parent wants to hear that something is wrong with her kid, but caring for Little Johnny for 10 hours a day makes a babysitter pretty observant. "Being a parent myself, it's a sensitive subject," said Carey. "You want the best for your child, but you don't want to hear that."

This is hard on many levels.  Firstly, some of us may be professional educators but we are definitely NOT doctors.  We DO know if something isn't right, but we're probably not going to tell you for the reasons stated in the article.  Also, it's hard for us to say, "Yea, totally, something isn't right" when you ask us if we think there's an issue, especially if we care about you and the child, WE don't want to see them struggle either.

10. You get what you pay for, and what you seek
Childcare providers might not be willing to market themselves based on price alone, but "you most certainly get what you pay for in terms of childcare," says Melody Rubie, owner and president of Smart Start Sitters and Nannies in New York City. "I recommend parents cut back on less crucial items, such as pricey enhancement classes, rather than paying less for a less qualified caregiver who could significantly impact your child's budding self-esteem and restrict their experiential learning for many hours each week."
If you're expecting someone who will teach your young child, make sure they're qualified, or that they're actually going to provide the services you assume they are going to provide. Children's book author Jennifer Lynn Pereyra found that out when she put her oldest daughter into childcare. "We were expecting that when she was three that they would start to teach her letters and numbers. Well, we came to find out that this particular center believed strictly in learning through play and not doing any type of structured learning."
With her second daughter, Pereyra observed two things about the center they had chosen: The employees had all been there more than 10 years, which showed her they were happy in their jobs. "I chalk this up to solid management practices," she said. "I firmly believe that good management equals happy, tenured teachers, and happy teachers produce happy children."

There's a lot to this particular statement.
Firstly - if you're looking for a nanny that's qualified and is going to teach your children full time, you BETTER pay well AND appreciate what they do becuase they are OVERQUALIFIED to be doing that.  They're also doing it without many benefits like health insurance, retirement and paid vacation time.
Secondly - if you're looking into a childcare center, SHOP AROUND.  Research as much as you can.  There are offices where their soul purpose is to help parents find the appropriate childcare.  They have a listing of all local centers as well as information on if they've been violated or not and who owns them.  Did you know that information is available online?  You should probably check and see if YOUR day care has had any violations lately.  Contact your local OCFS (Office of Child and Family Services) office to get the information.
Lastly - When researching centers, don't skimp on out basic questions like, what their teaching philosophy is (or do they not have one?), what kind of food do they serve the children (do they even include food?), what is THEIR discipline policy, how often do children go outside, are there computers in the rooms, do they watch television frequently, what is their medical policy?? 

The last thing I'd like to say about the topic of day cares is, if your child's teacher tells you your child needs something (extra clothes, diapers, wipes etc.), WAKE UP AND BRING IT IN!  SOMETIMES parents of children who move up to a new room might leave behind a donation of diapers or wipes, but rarely is there extra for YOUR child if you choose to not bring it in.  So where does it come from?  ANOTHER CHILD'S STASH!  How do you like knowing that your son or daughter's diapers are being used for someone else because their parent doesn't bring stuff in?  How would you like it if a child had an accident and the only thing the teacher could find was a pair of pants in your child's cubby?  We'll try really hard to get those pants back...but sometimes they're gone for life. 
Do everyone a favor and bring crap in if your teacher asks you to.  It's one thing if you forget once, but for a whole week?  Get it together!  And if you REALLY want to be loved by your center, donate any clothes that your child has grown out of - even the torn, stained ones, including shoes!  If you're just going to throw it away, there's probably a day care that will be happy to take it off your hands (and that's a general statement to everyone).

So like I said - I'm not a parent so I certinately don't expect parents to NOT roll their eyes at me, but I AM a childcare provider and I've dealt with a lot of parents and children over the years so hopefully this gives a little bit of insight to you from the OTHER side. :)


Brandy@YDK said...

thanks so much. I'm work full-time and G is in a child care center full-time. I try to be respectful and gracious but I know there are things I don't even think of.

Lourie said...

I am a SAHM and I admire and totally respect teachers and daycare providers alike. I do not know how you do your job.