Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When child care goes right (so far)

We've sampled a wide range of child care over the years. When Ben was born, child care around here was virtually impossible to get. By the time I had to go back to work, I had no child care, so my lovely sister stepped into the breach and became our daytime paid nanny. This was unquestionably fabulous, and we were really lucky to have such an amazing circumstance. She soldiered on for five years before looking after my children threatened to make her childless for life, and was possibly starting to induce cackling.

We then moved to family day care, both because Elissa was only 6 months old, and because I really couldn't afford the larger day care centres. That worked out really well too. Our first carer stopped when she got married and her sister took over. It was flexible and worked well for our family. Then the second carer had her second child, and she stopped too. We couldn't find another carer that met our criteria (could take both kids and wasn't a 30min drive away), so we switched to a group day care.

That's mostly been pretty good too. Charlie didn't like it, but he was also going to preschool 3 days a week, which he much preferred and was where he had made his friends. (Preschool is another form of child care we are very happy with. I love our preschool.) He only went one day a week, so it wasn't so bad. Elissa loves it. She's made lots of friends and clearly has heaps of fun.

However, by the end of last year, distinct behaviour issues were starting arise with Elissa. Not a huge surprise - she had just turned 3, after all. Still, she was becoming more and more impossible whenever she didn't get her way, and "her way" was becoming more and more ridiculous. By the time we started the three week break from day care over Christmas, she was infuriating to be around. We've spent those three weeks re-establishing boundaries, being as consistent as is humanly possible and slowly working towards the point that I don't want to strangle her the moment she gets out of bed.

Day care started back yesterday, so today I had a meeting with the director. I'm always nervous when I have to criticise someone on the way they do their job, and I was not looking forward to this. However, we had a very sensible conversation about Elissa's behaviour and how I felt their current approach to her was Not Helping. The director was .... I think relieved is the best description. I gather many parents at the centre get a little stroppy if the carers are firm with their kids. She seemed very happy indeed that I was asking for boundaries and was more than prepared to back them up at home.

So now we see what happens next. I suspect if my requests are acted upon, Elissa will suddenly really NOT want to go to day care. That's ok, we can work through that - should only take a couple of weeks based on the last three weeks' experience. I'm a little cautious in my optimism though - we're running against the nature of one of the carers, who, in the words of the director "likes to baby her babies".

But still, how nice to be supported and met with appreciation rather than defensiveness! I know child care is a business, but it still needs to be carried out in partnership with parents. It certainly appears they are trying hard to do just that.

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