Thursday, March 29, 2012

Unexpected Benefit of Day Care

When I went back to work after my first baby was born, I- like most working parents- worried a bit about what I'd miss while my baby was in someone else's care. I figured that was just the trade off I'd have to make so that I could keep working.

I never thought I'd end up thinking that missing something was a good thing... but I do.

Petunia was looking at a book of shapes. She saw the diamond, and said "dimen" and made a diamond shape with her fingers. Then she saw the heart, and patted her chest and said "ba-BOOM, ba-BOOM." I was surprised- in a wonderful way. I had never taught her those things, and neither had my husband. She learned them from day care. It was such a cool thing to be completely surprised by something she had learned, like getting a surprise gift from someone.

Petunia does a lot of cute things right now. She's at that age. She calls band-aids "nay-nays" and insists I put one on if I get a scratch on my arm- after she's noted Mommy's owie, and kissed it better, of course. And she's learning a lot of things, too. She's almost got her alphabet down, and she's getting much better at jigsaw puzzles. But few of these are surprising. I've been helping her practice her alphabet, and I do the jigsaw puzzles with her. I kiss her owies better, so it is no big surprise that she wants to kiss mine better. Her telling me that her heart goes "ba-BOOM, ba-BOOM" was a complete surprise, and that made it even more delightful. Thinking back, I remember having a similar reaction when Pumpkin first sang us "I'm a Little Teapot," complete with actions, back when she was about two. I knew the song, of course, but had never tried to teach it to her. Her day care teacher, on the other hand, had an entire lesson plan built around nursery rhymes.

I missed watching my kids learn these things, but in return I got the happy surprise when they showed me their new skills.  I know that I'll be having more and more of these moments as my kids start school, but for some reason I never thought about how fun they would be. I expected to miss my kids during the day- and I do. I didn't expect to also find myself happy to think about my kids off at day care during the day, learning things without me. But I do.

12 comments:

  1. I definitely agree with this benefit of day care. It's been so fun to have mijo come home with knowledge that we didn't give him (or think to..instead of I'm a little Teapot, he belted out "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed").

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  2. *We* learned a lot from our daycare too. The kids at the daycares DC went to were all amazingly well-behaved and independent and we were able to model some of what they did at home too.

    Also: can't beat a good Montessori for kids learning to pick up after themselves.

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  3. Julie6:57 AM

    Agreed, and I think you said it quite well. I'm continually amazed at what my 3yo will come home saying, singing, and just generally knowing (I can't believe that she knows the difference between a square and a rectangle!). I love it, and I never would have been able to give her all of that on my own. And, it makes me quite proud when she shares some of this knowledge with us.

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  4. Our elder kid recently asked me if the story xe was reading was set in Haiti. It was and it blew me away that xe was able to figure that out based upon one week of pre-school discussions about the country.

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  5. Yes! They learn lots of interesting things.
    Also, having a kid in daycare is an amazingly great method for finding good books and toys. When my guy was littler, I didn't want a lot of toys around so we'd watch what he liked to play with at daycare and get some of those (also, I didn't feel at all bad he didn't have so much at home, or didn't have the 'big toys', because he got a wider variety at daycare). Now, he'll go to the library and pick out his favorite story CDs from daycare and teach me the songs. It's lovely!

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    Replies
    1. Yes I really like that too! The teachers at day care will tell us what baby likes to play with and so whenever we buy toys (only happened once since we got so much when he was born), we'll know what he likes to play with.

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  6. Anonymous10:27 AM

    OMG the benefits of daycare have been massive for us. As first time parents the teachers of daycare have been teaching us as well as taking care of our baby. Everything from signs of teething, to introducing solids, different techniques for getting babies to sleep, manners, etc. There is nothing like having a child watch 10 other kids do something to teach them how to do it. The latest benefit, potty training! They have toddler potties in the daycare and our little one is now super interested in trying to go potty. FYI she is 1.5 years old. So yes I love love love daycare!!!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, our first potty trained at day care in like a day. Sadly, getting her to use her new skills at home took quite a bit longer. We made some rookie mistakes there, and also got unlucky. But it is all good now!

      We also first started using sign language because they started using it in the "older baby" room, and that may be one of our best parenting decisions ever.

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    2. We had to change our sign language dialect b/c daycare was way better at teaching signs than we were. So basically he taught us rather than the other way around. (More is a good example-- they do an open hand and a pointy finger, we had been doing closed hands put together.)

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  7. Yeah, it definitely made me feel good about using daycare. My favorite skill is how they taught her to put on her own coat by laying it on the ground and flipping it up over her head - what a neat trick! I love that in general, they encourage self-help skills even in the young toddlers. It's made a huge difference on how T adjusted to her new preschool compared to her classmates who are brand new to a school environment.

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    1. The milliner6:49 PM

      DS LOVES doing the 'magic jacket'. :). He's so proud that he can put on his own jacket. I still remember the first time he tried to do it at home. I had no idea what he was doing. I thought he was just playing around with his jacket on the floor! I was totally amazed when I finally figured out what he was trying to do.

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  8. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Yes. I think too that it can be easier for some kids (my kid!) to learn to care for themselves at preschool. I have gotten fussed at by one of our childcare providers for doing stuff like putting DS's socks on for him and, OK, fair enough. But (a) she has to deal with him (and the other kids) fewer than 20 hours/week, in total (it is small, in-home setting) and (b) doesn't need to take him anywhere (is never dashing to work or a doctor's appointment while dealing with an unmotivated (or counter-motivated!) kid. Plus (c) there's no transition for her (or him) from being responsible for his every need and him being totally needy, to greater independence, as he and I are managing (not that this can't be done, just it's another layer to deal with), and (d) as others have noted, there are others similar situated kids who can serve as role models. It's good!

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