It is very wide spread for parents to feel guilty about putting their children into pre-school care. I had 3 parents in one day talk with me about this very feeling. This blog post centres around the discussions with those parents.
First of all I want to state that it is very common and absolutely normal for parents to feel guilty about sending their children into care. They do however not need to feel guilty and hopefully after reading this article parents will feel encouraged rather than discouraged about the education and care of their children. My own children Isabella (8) and Felix (5) go into after school care most days and I must admit I also get a tinge of guilt on the odd occasion too.
The pull on the heartstrings is difficult for a parent when considering for the first time to put their children into care. Back in the days when I was a kid the only real options were part time kindergarten for the year before school as Mums stayed home a bit more than the mums of today. The other option was staying home with mum.
These days the normal family dynamics and responsibilities are slightly different. Many families the single parent or both parents are working full time. Pre-school children are in care more. School aged children attend before and after school care also more regularly. The demand on parents is arguably more today than ever.
One parent I was talking with was considering putting their children into care but really felt they were giving over the parenting job to some stranger and was feeling like a failure as a parent. Her mother was also giving her a bit of a hard time on the matter too. “Back in my day we didn’t need child care” Sound familiar? This is very common experience with many parents.
Another parent in a similar situation did not really see the value of child care. Because they were being mum at home, and it was free why put their child into child care. She also had the same guilty feeling.
The 3rd parents I was speaking with was as slightly different story. We had there darling little daughter in our care for 4 days per week. Mum was thinking of reducing the days because she felt guilty about having her daughter in for so many days.
“Why should parents not feel guilty?” I here you ask.
The best way to look at child care and early learning development is that is not a replacement for what children can receive in that family unit at home but rather compliments the learning and development of all children.
The family is the first learning environment and mum and dad are the first teachers. The children learn about love, acceptance, family values and much more.
If you think of a child care centre or and early learning centre such as Parkside Early Learning Centre our primary purpose is to prepare children for a successful transition to school. The environment that we provide in an early learning centre you cannot reproduce at home nor in a small home based child care environment. As the children get older the classroom environments need to become closer to that of what the children will find in school. The ideal is to have the children in care for as much of the week as possible, with the same children over a long period of time.
Children are in school for 5 days per week so to enable a transition that is not overwhelming for the children it is advisable to have them attending a similar frequency. They learn consistency, routine and know what to expect when they come in each day.
Having the same children in their class helps them build long term relationships and helps them deal with the ups and downs of long term relationships. It develops their social skills which is one of the main areas where the children are behind where they should be when they start school.
Being in large groups similar to school is also important. Children are going to be presented with many situations and how to deal with them. How the children deal with these situations emotionally can be tested and developed more.
I know when my two children have a disagreement or are not behaving in a way that I would expect and I can tend to jump in too soon and solve the problem for them. This does nothing to aide in their development and takes away a great learning opportunities. I am doing it less now but are still guilty of jumping in too soon from time to time but I’m working on it.
One example I saw recently was when a child had a toy and then another child simply came over and took the toy away. The child was naturally upset and there were even a few tears. These types of situations you actually want to happen so the learning and the lessons can begin. The child who had the toy taken is learning to deal with their emotions and control them. With the help of a teacher they can assist the child regulate their emotions and instead of focusing on the loss of the toy we can focus on how we can solve the problem at hand in getting the toy back. Through the problem solving process the child learns the toy will come back. The child will be much better prepared when a similar situation happens again. There is also a great learning opportunity from the child who took the toy.
In larger groups there will be many of these experiences the children can learn from. When each situation occurs, with guidance and mentoring from a teacher, the child grows more and more mature. The child develops a resilience that will aide them greatly once they hit school to hand many difficult and emotional situations.
To have more discussions like this jump on to our facebook page and share some of your own experiences and thoughts.
Carolin and Andrew