Taking children to day care every day is hard for all parents, but having outside child care is important for working parents. Childcare centers can allow children to interact with other children their age and start to develop important life skills, but young people often don’t receive the type of one-on-one attention you would give them. Daycare doesn’t just have to be something that you just drop and pick up your children from every day, if you take steps to be more engaged. By being involved as a parent, you can help to make the experience more beneficial and meaningful for them.
1. Open Communication
As a parent, it is important for you to have direct and open communication with your childcare provider. This doesn’t just involve telling staff members about your children’s allergies and phobias on the first day. To be involved, you need to have an ongoing back and forth exchange with staff members. This can be through direct person-to-person talks, daily or weekly newsletters, back-and-forth notes or phone calls. The goal is for you to stay apprised about what your child is doing and learning at their childcare center on a daily basis. This will help you to be able to decide, in the long run, if the daycare you have chosen is the best fit for your children.
Some day care centers have opportunities for parents to be involved as volunteers. While this may not be you can’t do all the time, you may have a few hours a week or month where you can come in to lead story time or an activity, contribute your special expertise or take part in an event-planning committee. There are likely different ways you can get involved in day care. You just have to be willing to ask staff members if they need help with something, such as teaching children about music making. It helps if you let them know what special skills you can bring to the table. By volunteering, you can start a trend of being involved in your children’s education, which you can continue as they move on to pre-school and elementary school.
Most childcare centers have an open policy on parent drop-ins. While you won’t be able to visit every day because of work and other responsibilities, you may have some time here and there when you have an extra hour or two to spend with your children in the middle of the day. While you may be tempted to take them out to lunch or take them home early, it can be more beneficial for you to spend time with them at daycare. This will allow you to observe and engage with them in their daycare environment. Some child care centers encourage parents to come visit during special events, such as career days or holiday parties. Attend these events, if you are able to, so that you can get to know the staff better and show your children that you are invested in everything they do.
4. Additional Education
At daycare, children often start to learn basic ideas, such as counting, from activities and playtime. You can help to make those fun games more meaningful by asking them questions about what they have done every day and doing similar activities with them. This will help to reinforce what they have learned and allow you to spend quality one-on-one time with your children. You also want to ask staff members questions so that you can plan out activities to do with your children. If possible, try to recommend to daycare workers some games or activities that you think would benefit all of the children at the facility. Find more online information and resources at the Wee Watch website.