I sobbed, like most mothers out there, all the way home the first time I dropped my son off at daycare. Ugly, can’t catch your breath sobs. When I was leaving and was holding back tears, a woman made a comment “First time huh?” I could only nod. While it was a day I still wouldn’t go back to, how oddly grateful I am that my husband and I were forced to be put in that situation where our son had to go to daycare.
Five reasons I would put my child in daycare even if I wasn't working.
My son’s daycare uses Storypark, a site they can write a summary and include pictures, to relate his development and learnings. I cry every time I read them. Oh geez, I sound emotional, but if you saw the things they write, you might be too…
He is growing in leaps and bounds. He has always been a momma’s boy and shy as can be, but he has learned to branch outside of himself. He has learned interaction with other adults as well as his peers.
We are currently living in New Zealand, and they have tea time. Six months to three year olds all gather around a small table trying to sit on their chairs. Miss Manners would be proud as they share their food and are taught patience while waiting. They have someone at the table that leads them to sing a Maori song. The kids eat it up—along with every crumb of the healthy snacks the center provides.
Being an only child, so far, and away from cousins and family, this interaction is everything. I see the little changes it makes in him, as he examines and sizes up other children, and it makes his days there invaluable.
2. Regular Schedule with Daily Activities
When my son first gets to daycare, he bounds for the door. He is such a little Wildman at heart and is ready for the fresh air and adventure. Once they have doused them all in sunscreen, they allow all the kiddies outside to play in the sandbox and have their go at the slide and numerous brooms and never ending supply of outdoor toys.
He comes home exhausted. The first night he ever made it through a 12 hour night of sleep was when he went to daycare. I was sold at that moment. The regular schedule of the day with all the activities they fill it with allow him to get his physical activities in as well as mental stimulation.
3. Mentally Challenging
While we try so hard to limit screen time at home, and take him to parks and help advance him mentally, some times it feels like it is just falling short. A long term study by the US National Institutes of Health found that young children were apt to have higher academic achievement in teenage years if they were in a top-notch daycare.
When my son is there, they have specific goals and focuses for him that they write to me about. I watch as he comes home, not completely different, but I notice the subtleties. I know he is learning and stretched further from his comfort zone than we could do at home. After all there is only so much horsy play and hide and seek we can do at home.
4. Helps with Transition to School
I have noticed a big difference in many friends who have done daycare and friends who haven’t when their little one goes to school. Dropping them off is much easier on both parent and child I feel. The child is also more used to a routine and schedule, again the schedule and more easily adapts to the challenges of the day.
Did I still cry? Do you have to ask?
5. Helps Family Come Together
I feel odd writing this. It sounds so backwards, right? But the time he is dropped off it gives my husband and I time to get what we need to do with work and things around the house. It allows our family a reset and recharge button. Sometimes we just need it. When we are done with work, and go to pick him up, nothing in the world gets to me more than his smile of recognition and him running with open arms. No better picture in my mind.