At the age of 16, I began working at a day care center. I was immediately hired as a teacher for the two year old class and never left the age group. I saw them as the sweetest mix of toddler and big kid. They were fiercely fighting for their independence while relying on me to fix their boo-boos. Having been a childcare worker for six years, I'd like to think I know the ins and outs of childcare.
Soon after sending my own son to childcare—to the classroom next door to me, in fact—I realized how many falsehoods I still believed from the perspective of a parent. With anything, we never know the full story until we've lived through the experience, but we can certainly learn through others' experiences.
Here are the 5 lies I believed about childcare until I became involved in the industry.
1. Your child will be closer to their childcare teachers than to you
Kids spend anywhere from 5 to 10 hours in childcare each day. Nearly half of their time awake is spent in their childcare program. It's only natural as a parent to worry they'll bond more with a caregiver over you.
As a teacher, I will assert that is absolutely not true. We bond with our students tremendously. But there's nothing to replace the connection between mom or dad and child. You are always their #1.
As a parent, I saw this play out when my son's eyes lit up at the end of the day. No matter who hugged him, wiped away his tears or rocked him to sleep for a nap, mama came first. Our babies grow up, but they never outgrow needing their mom first and foremost.
2. Day care teachers will completely potty train your kid for you
I need every parent to know this.
While we love helping with potty-training in the classroom (I mean it's literally our job), your child's interest in the potty begins in the home. For the most part, the foundations of potty training must be built at home before we pursue it at day care or school.
The most important part of potty-training, besides a child's genuine interest, is consistency! Whether they are at home or at school, the routine should stay the same. Childcare providers can't do all the dirty work—just some of it.
3. Teachers avoid having favorites
Let me start by saying I knew this as a teacher. I had my favorites each year; I just never made it obvious.
However, from the perspective of a parent, I wondered if my son was a favorite. I wondered if he was getting appreciated as much as he deserved because I thought his personality was pretty superb. At times I was jealous they were able to spend time with them during the day because I loved watching him be his goofy self.
4. Childcare workers have an educational background, or at least some education on childhood development
Childcare providers don't get paid as much as they are worth. I have a Bachelor's degree in psychology and my highest paying position was $12 an hour—after a raise. Low pay makes it hard to attract people who have studied childhood development or education for years.
That being said, it doesn't keep day care workers from being amazing caretakers who thrive when they're helping children learn. Research centers in your area and ask local moms for recommendations. There are centers with teachers who truly love what they do and hold knowledge about early childhood. It just takes research to find them.
5. Your child will miss you all day
It's only to natural about whether your baby is happy at school. But the truth of the matter is it takes most kids 10 minutes max to calm down from a drop off and start having fun. During the day, their friend might be picked up and they might be reminded that their mom or dad is coming. Tears will be shed, then they'll be back to playing as quickly as the tears came.
So when it comes time to send your little one off for the day, don't worry. Kids have fun at day care!