Saturday, August 24, 2013

The other side of Opting-In: what's best for children?

When I read the New York Times cover story about how many stay-at-home  moms end up regretting that decision and wished they had continued to work, at least part time, I had the same reaction as journalist What is best for the children? She followed up with an article in Slate called The Day Care Dilemma where she explores whether putting children into daycare is good or bad for them. As a working mother, the article sounded like an emotional ride for her. It was for me too.

She found, not surprisingly, that it depends entirely on the quality of the daycare. She said:"One crucial factor is how caregivers interact with the kids. Are they responsive and sensitive? Do they get down on the floor with the children or are they always standing in the back, looking bored? Higher quality care also tends to have a higher ratio of adults per child, fewer children per group, and staff is typically more highly educated." I clicked through some of the links to confirm the following basic list:
  • How the caregivers interact with the children (on the floor, for example, or at a distance, are they warm? calm? respectful of the children's needs? do they use positive discipline instead of blaming? do they consistently interact verbally with the children?)
  • The teacher:child ratio -- you want fewer kids per teacher (this is part of licensing requirements; so, is pretty easy to check up on.)
  • The education of the caregivers (this one is more difficult because child caregivers are generally so poorly paid).
Here's how Melinda reacted to these findings: "My first instinct was to cry; my second was to attach a camera to my son’s shirt to see what his days were really like; my third was to get really, really pissed at our government for not doing more to ensure that U.S. child care is higher quality." I think there are obvious warning signs if your childcare is sub-par. My daughter has told me she loves one of her givers more than she loves me. Children do this, but, of course, it hurts my feelings. It is also a sign that she has bonded deeply with her caregiver which likely indicates strong positive interactions. You see a lot when you come and go with picking up and dropping off you child, and that's something to go on, but ultimately there's no way to know everything that happens in daycare.

No comments:

Post a Comment