When it comes to parenting, it can be hard to draw without someone piping up to “helpfully” tell you how You Are Doing It Wrong. You may wonder sometimes why they don’t just tattoo it on your arm the minute you become a parent.
One of the the most contentious arguments is over childcare versus being a stay at home mum (and interestingly, the expectation is usually that it is the mum, not just a parent, who stays home). The reality is _ as with so many of these arguments _ that as long as both parents and kids are happy and thriving, whatever works for you is the right answer.
In the drive to turn parenting into a competitive sport, a number of untrue perceptions have arisen around parenting that only succeed in piling unnecessary guilt on parents who want or need to use childcare for any reason.
Here we debunk these myths and explain why you can feel great about sending your kid to day care:
- Childcare is Bad for Children. No, bad childcare is bad for children. Research casting doubt on the benefits of childcare centres tend to be decades old and were done in countries with less stringent regulations, so include centres that, quite simply, could not operate in Australia. Studies done in places with a higher standard of care, such as the 2013 study of 75,000 children in Norway, found that there was no evidence of “acting out” or any other behavioural problems in children who attended high quality care. In fact, a 2014 study from the University of Adelaide found that children in high quality care at the ages of 2 and 3 were more likely to be attentive and better able to deal with their emotions when they started school.
- Your Child Won’t Get the Attention They Need. Oh the horror of the picture the naysayers paint. Children left alone to sob their hearts out, waiting for someone to give them the hug they desperately need, but their carers are swamped under a sea of children. Except it’s not like that. Regulations in NSW mean that there is one educator for every four children aged two and under, one for every five children between two and three and one carer to 10 for children over three. Children need attention but they also need to be allowed to figure things out for themselves, and good quality childcare knows the appropriate level of each, ensuring that your child gets it. Contrary to what you might hear, childcare centres don’t just leave your child to cry to out. If you have concerns, talk to the director about their policies around crying.
- It’s Just Glorified Babysitting. So you just drop your kid off in the morning and they run around the whole day, stopping for the occasional snack, right? Not quite. Early learning programs provide children with a host of educational opportunities and offer a mix of structured and unstructured play. Programs are based on The Early Years Learning Framework, a national curriculum that all centres in Australia must follow. And education doesn’t always take the forms people think. Playing in a sandpit helps develop fine motor skills and even has some more abstract lessons about volume as they fill buckets up with sand. Interacting with other children at the centre teaches them about sharing, negotiating and getting along. Activities such as craft and cooking have direct educational objectives underpinning them. There’s also physical fitness and nutrition programs and centres such as Caring 4 Kids offers many other more formal programs including School Readiness and Italian Spanish and French language classes.
- Once they turn 3 You Should Send Them to Preschool Not Long Daycare Preschools are great _ if they suit your circumstances. You hear horror stories of parents of creating all sorts of complicated schedules involving nannies and adjusted work hours just so they can send their children to preschool in the mistaken belief that this will better prepare them for school. Long daycare centres run a School Readiness Preschool Program designed to develop a foundation of skills with a focus on numeracy, literacy, self-help skills and social/emotional skills to ensure children are ready for school and developed to their full potential.
- Your Child will Forget You. This one always seem kind of odd. Unless your child is afflicted with some sort of Momento-like memory problem, your child will remember you just fine. What is important is that they get to spend plenty of quality time with their parents when they are with them. If it takes a village to raise a child, your childcare provider is part of that village and spending time with them helps children develop a sense of security around other people.
- Daycare food is unhealthy When you read something like this, it’s important to consider the source. Not just in the sense of whether they are reliable _which is obviously really important _ but where they are talking about. As we said above, regulations differ in other parts of the world so may not be relevant to your situation. In NSW, it’s a requirement that early learning centres display their menus where parents can see them (and more importantly, that the actual meals reflect this menu). Further, Caring 4 Kids’ menu has been developed, approved and certified by NSW Health Munch and Move program, which ensures that children are eating nutritious meals that meet their individual developmental and developmental requirements. Children also learn about healthy foods during their lessons.
- Daycare will make your children sick. Ok, this one we have to cop to…sort of. Some children do go through a period where they seem to be sick every other week when they first start childcare as their immune system is exposed to a bunch of bugs it hasn’t met yet, BUT unless you are planning on keeping your child sequestered in your attic their whole life, this is something that is going to happen whenever they first enter other large-group activities. A study by the University of Montreal found that babies in large-group child-care centres before they age of two and a half do get more respiratory and ear infections, but are much less likely to come down with them at primary school. Not exactly a fun thing to go through, but re-enforcing good hand hygiene and keeping sick children home from childcare goes along way in minimising exposure.
Of course, if you have any concerns about there, or other matters, surrounding child care, talk to your centre’s director about them. If you’d like to know more about what Caring 4 Kids can offer your child, contact Caring 4 Kids here (firstname.lastname@example.org)