Having worked in childcare for more than six years, here are some things I have, or wish I could have, told parents.
Your child will get hurt
All children get hurt at some point or another. Contrary to popular belief, children getting hurt isn’t always a bad thing. Children learn balance, gross motor skills, and social skills by getting hurt. They will fall down. They will scrape their knees. They will get hit. They might even get bitten – multiple times!
The reality is that, while you may be able to keep a closer eye on your kids at home (although I know they still get hurt there too!), with one teacher to ten kids in a classroom, there is no way we can prevent every accident. I’ve stopped many a bite from happening, I’ve caught children mid-air before. But there were also lots of accidents that I couldn’t get to in time, and I had to endure the wrath of some parents for “letting” their child get hurt.
Please be reasonable towards your daycare teacher. We don’t want your child to get hurt! I promise! And we do our best to apply first aid and love when they do get hurt. Be patient, and recognize that we are probably doing our best to prevent accidents in a crazy environment with lots of small children.
Your child will hurt others
Here is the flip side of the coin. Almost every kid goes through a hitting phase, and many go through a biting phase as well (see my post Biting is Normal). While it’s great to talk to your kids about being gentle towards others, here are a couple of things we wish you wouldn’t do:
Punish your kids at the end of the day
Children under three often don’t remember what they had for breakfast that morning. Much less who they hit on the playground. Punishing them when you pick them up at the end of the day will not reduce the behavior, because they won’t associate the punishment with the misbehavior. It will feel arbitrary and cruel to them.
Your kid’s hitting or biting probably has very little to do with you as a parent. You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s totally normal for kids to go through these phases, and they’ll probably grow out of them in a year or so. You don’t need to feel like you’re a bad parent. Your kid’s teacher certainly doesn’t feel that way. 🙂
Allow the behavior
We ask that you not punish your kids at the end of the day, long after they’ve committed their act. But when you see your child at pick-up or drop-off (or outside of daycare), please do something about it! That is your responsibility as a parent. It feels like we’re being betrayed when we work hard to extinguish bad behavior in a child, and then see that the parent doesn’t care one way or another.
Your kid’s teacher isn’t lying to you
I’m not sure why we get this all the time. Why on earth would I lie to you about your kid hitting someone? Please assume that when your child’s teacher talks to you about something that happened, it’s because we want to work together with you to solve the problem. We’re not just randomly trying to get your child in trouble. That makes no sense.
I realize that every parent wants to believe that their child can do no wrong, but the reality is that every kid is going to misbehave at some point. You are not doing them any favours by ignoring or refusing to acknowledge their behavior.
Instead, just take us at our word, and ask what you can do at home to work on it. You’ll find we’re more than willing to give you suggestions, or listen and implement your ideas.
We think about your kids all the time
Teachers have a unique job. We’re not seeing different people every day. We’re not working with computers or paper pushing (usually). We work with the same group of wonderful children every day. It’s impossible not to get attached!
When we meet for dinner with our co-teachers after work, we talk about your kids. When we get home and tell our families about our day, we talk about your kids. When we’re in bed at night thinking about everything that happened that day, we think about (and sometimes pray for!) your kids. We even miss them over weekends and holidays!
This may be our job, but there’s a bond that is forged which goes far deeper than just classroom requirements. We’re investing in your child, and we want to see them succeed.
We put your kid’s artwork on our refrigerators too
To go along with that last point, your kids usually love us too. Obviously their parents and siblings are their first loves. No one doubts that. But they spend a lot of time with their teachers, and young children are eager to show their affection.
When I worked at a daycare, I had children’s drawings in a box in my living room, hanging on my refrigerator, taped to the inside of my cabinets, all over my car… We enjoy having reminders of the children we love all around us.
We know the rules are stupid
There are a LOT of rules involved with childcare here in the States. Way too many. It seems like every time one teacher does something stupid, or one freak accident occurs, a new rule is implemented to prevent that ever happening again.
Consequently, we end up with a lot of silly rules, some of which aren’t actually practical to follow. Here are some examples:
- We have restrictions on playing outside when it’s hot, cold, raining, or windy. If you put all those together, you’ll realize just how many days out of the year we end up stuck inside a classroom with 10 hyper kids…
- Parents cannot bring homemade food to share with the kids. This was one of the biggest complaints we got. No, you cannot make cupcakes for your child’s birthday. No, you cannot make Christmas cookies for your kid’s holiday party. Only pre-packaged, store-bought food is allowed. L
- We are only allowed to keep breast milk/baby formula for one hour after it’s taken out of the refrigerator. That means that if your infant falls asleep right after we’ve heated up their bottle, we’ve just lost that bottle. If they decide they only want two ounces now, and get hungry for the rest later, we’re not allowed to give it to them.
There are plenty more rules like that, but the point is, we understand how silly they are. But we have to follow the rules in order to keep our job. Please be understanding and try to work with us. We’re not trying to make your life difficult.
We can’t accommodate every request
Daycares get a lot of strange requests from parents. Here are some of the ones that stood out to me:
- Don’t let my child go outside
- Only two people at the daycare may hold my child
- My child’s naptime cot must be a certain distance away from any [safety covered] electrical outlets
- Although I provide formula for emergency situations, you may never use the emergency formula on my child
- My child may not play with [insert list of specific kids]
- Don’t let my child take a nap
We understand that there are children who have food allergies, or health concerns, and we certainly try to accommodate that. But the reality is that by enrolling your child in daycare, you are giving up certain rights to have you child raised the way that you want. When parental whims interfere with the rules we are required to follow, we have to give way to the rules.
Every parent has a reputation
Yep. It might be good, it might be bad. It depends on two things:
- How you treat your kid’s teacher
- How you treat your kid
We genuinely like most parents. All you have to do is be polite, show genuine affection for your kid, and don’t complain all the time. That’s it! You already have a good reputation. Now, you can take it a step further if you want and do extra things like ask questions about the class and teacher, bring treats on holidays, or stay a minute to help out if you see the classroom getting crazy. Some of you parents reading this know I’m talking about you. 🙂 THANK YOU!
Then there are the parents who act like we don’t exist. Who come in every day on their phone, leave their kid in the hallway, and expect us to find them and bring them into the classroom. Parents who complain about us all the time (whether to us, to another teacher, or to our superiors). Parents who yell at their kids in the hallway. Parents who refuse to bring the basic food, diapers, or clothes their children need to have.
Daycare teachers talk to each other, especially when classroom move-ups are about to happen. We like to tell the other teacher what they can expect from you as parents when your child is moving up to their classroom.
Please don’t be the parent we have to warn them about.
We get stressed out
I used to get asked all the time “How do you deal with it? You must be an angel!”
I’m not going to lie – it was rough sometimes. If you get stressed out at home with three kids and a whole house, you can imagine what it’s like with ten kids and one classroom. It gets a little crazy.
If you walk into our classroom and see all the children running laps, and toys flying across the room, please send up a prayer and extend us a little extra grace that day. I know that I’ve said harsher things that I intended to children when I got stressed out.
The worst part for me when the classroom is going crazy is that I know I’m not able to give every child the love and attention that they need that day. It’s just damage control.
There will be days like that, probably in every classroom. It really helps when parents offer us a kind word, or stay a minute to help us get things in order.
We need your help
Raising kids is a team effort. We’re on your team, and we’re doing the best we can during the day when we have them in our class. But you spend evenings, weekends, and holidays with them. You have the most influence over your own children.
We need your help teaching your children, correcting your children, and loving your children. They need one-on-one attention from you at home that we cannot give them at daycare. They need consistency to solidify the lessons they learn in the classroom.
We’re just here to support you while YOU raise your children. This means meeting their basic needs – food, diapers, clothes. It means disciplining them when they are misbehaving and need you to tell them how they’re supposed to behave. It means showering them with affection when you drop them off, pick them up, put them to bed…etc.
Your children are only our responsibility for a few hours each day. The rest of the time, they are YOUR responsibility.