8 Truths About Home Daycare from a Provider
1.) Families form tight bonds with providers.
I spent years working in preschool programs and large daycare centers before I opened my own home daycare. While I always enjoyed the kids that I worked with and their families I didn’t have the same type of connection with them when I worked in large centers that I do now. The children in my care now feel like they are part of our family and I work with the parents as a team. In large programs and facilities the caregiver that you drop your child off with in the morning may not be the person that you see when you pick up.
With home daycare parents see their daycare provider everyday of the week and in most cases she is the only one, there are no other teachers or assistants. It’s just the provider which means that all your communication and interactions are with that one person. Parents also are likely get to know a provider’s husband and children and they have access to her home five days a week, these are things that most people only share with friends and family not business clients. For the children the provider becomes someone that they can trust and feel safe with. Someone that encourages them to try new things and explore the world around them.
Providers also become a great source for support and advice for parents. They work together as a team to create behavior, social, and educational goals for the child. Unlike daycare centers, which have very large staff turnover rates, a home care provider is dedicated to her business and can be someone you can rely on. Your child will be able to bond with them without the threat of having to separate from them in order to move to a different room because of age or having staff that is continually rotating. Consistency is so important for kids and have a stable caring provider helps them feel secure when mom and dad are not around.
2.) A daycare provider’s day doesn’t end when the kids leave.
Think about it your job, when do you get all the little things that make your job possible done? During business hours, right? For a daycare provider that’s rarely possible, if at all. Daycare providers are with children all day, most working upwards of 10 hrs a day. They don’t have time to do supply runs, put together lesson plans, or prep meals while there are kids running around. This means providers have to spend many hours prepping and preparing things outside of the daycare business hours.
Every night providers have to wipe down toys and equipment in the play area, clean up any leftover messes from the day, scrub down bathrooms, and usually do dishes or laundry. She spends her free time planning and preparing activities, planning meals, going grocery shopping for snacks and meals, record keeping, cleaning, and much more. These tasks add up to hundreds of hours a year spent working when the kids aren’t present. These are all things providers have to do themselves, there’s no one to delegate these things to, and they have to be done in a provider’s off hours.
This is why many providers have strict late pick-up policies. They spend 10 hours working with the children each day plus countless hours of additional cleaning and prepping, which (like many working parents find) leaves only a small amount of time for family time. They aren’t trying to take parents to the cleaners or make life hard for them, providers are just simply trying to balance home and work. Two things that are already very much combined due to the nature of this business.
3.) All children are a priority to the provider.
As parents we only need to focus on our own children, sure we acknowledge the feelings of other children but our child’s needs come first. For childcare providers they have a room full of children that they are responsible for. There is no one child or family that gets better care than the another, no child or family that is exempt from the rules the provider has set forth in her handbook. Providers have special relationships with each child in their care but at the same time each one is a priority.
This is why providers don’t generally allow for exceptions to be made in regards to their polices. They have to look out for all the children in their care, not just one or two. This is the same reason for strict rules on sickness. When a child is sent home from daycare because of illness it’s not because the provider wants to be rid of the child or can’t handle a sick child. It’s because the provider has several other children that she also needs to look out for. Plus how comfortable is it for a sick child who just wants rest to be surrounded by loud noises and commotion from a group of active children? There will be a time when your child gets sent home due to illness, but don’t forget that there have been many other times when another children was sent home to protect your child from illness
4.) Smaller group size and multiple ages encourage learning.
Family childcare providers offer a comfortable home-like setting where a child will be one of only a small handful of children. This gives children the opportunity to get more individualized care and spend more quality time with a caring adult on a consistent basis. This fosters a child’s social and emotional growth through trust, affection, and security. It also allows for daycare providers to be more flexible in the services they offer or activities they do with children.
Home daycare also accept a variety of ages and mixed age groups are more comparable to a natural family environment or real-life situations. Mixed age groups allow children to learn from each other, they learn from watching other ages play and interact. There’s less competitive behaviors between children and less competitive pressure to achieve because the children are at various learning levels.
5.) Daycare providers are more than just stay-at-home moms.
Running a home daycare is nothing like having your own children at home all day. To be clear, I’m not saying stay-at-home moms don’t have the skills to watch other children or that their program would be lower quality than someone else’s. That has nothing to do with it and that way of thinking is the problem. The reason that I have included this issue is that I frequently see this term used to negativity describe in-home daycare providers.
“Tara is using one of those stay-at-home-moms to babysit Kaden.” “Home daycare isn’t as good a center because it’s just a stay-at-home mom wanting playmate for her kid.” “Kids won’t learn anything in home daycare because they are stay-at-home moms that needs more cash, they’re not educated.”
There are many SAHMs that turn to home childcare to help support their families but once their home becomes a daycare business they are work-at-home moms. Just because someone chooses to create a children friendly environment within their home and offer child care services does not mean that they are uneducated. Maybe being able to be home with their child (the biggest perk of this business for many providers) is what let them to this career but that doesn’t mean they aren’t educated or that they can’t offer a quality program. This is a hugely common stereotype that needs to be put to an end. Many providers have a background in early childhood education, whether it be formal education or experience working with children. They are also required to continue their education by taking classed in child development, each state has yearly requirements for continuing education for licensed daycare providers.
6.) Providers are in this business for the money.
I constantly see this comment used as proof that all daycare providers greedy and selfish, that they don’t really like children. I’m not sure why society feels that in order to prove that we care about children, both educators and daycare providers have to offer services for free. Childcare is a much needed service and providers have the skills and desire to provide it. Should grocery store employees not be paid because we need to shop there for food? Daycare providers truly are not trying to take advantage of parents, they are trying to make a living in a field they enjoy. I career path that is paid significantly less than most other careers. This is not a career for people that want to get rich quick, or really at all.
The fact is that we do love kids, you can’t be in this field and not love them, but we also have families to support just like everyone else. We just choose to do it by offering a service in a field that we actually care about and enjoy. If you really stop and think about it a home daycare provider is opening her entire life to the families that are part of her program. Her home, family, pets, and privacy are all affected by the decision to do family childcare. It’s a major commitment and one that many people couldn’t make. That right there should show how dedicated a provider is to their job.
7.) Home daycare providers are not a parent’s employee.
There are major differences between a home daycare provider and babysitters or nannies but the main one is that providers are not employed by the families in their program. Home care providers run a small business that offers a service parents can chose to use for a fee. This means that she has a set of professional goals she wants to achieve and a set rules for how her business is run in order to achieve those goals.
If you feel like you need to ask your provider to change several policies, anything from scheduled time off to hours of operation, then it’s best you find someone who will fit better with your needs. Even if you really like the provider on a personal level. Not agreeing with her policies and constantly trying to get them changed will only be a headache for both of you that usually results in dissolution of services on negative terms. Neither parent or the provider wants to have a relationship like that, it’s best to find someone who’s policies match what you are looking for rather. Each provider has a set of policies that work best for her and her family which means that each provider may have sightly different policies. It’s very little you’ll find someone that matches your needs, even if the first couple don’t.
8.) Not every provider will be a good fit (even if you want them to).
To me this is where the majority of issue with daycare providers arise, it’s one of those truths about home daycare no one likes to think about. A family expects that they will pick a provider and everything will be roses and rainbows. The truth is sometimes you just clash or your child struggles to adjust and no matter how hard you or the provider try, you can’t make it work. I’ve had kids in care that I loved to death but had to part with because the parents and I ended up clashing over policies they had no issues with in an interview. I’ve had parents that are amazing and yet the child struggles to adjust. It’s a process. You have to be open in your interviews with providers so they and you can decided if this will be a fit for you or not.
Do your homework, ask questions and evaluate the space in terms of how your child will do. Have a child that is sensitive to noise? Is there space for him to go when overwhelmed? A provider that takes lots of weekly field trips sounds amazing but to a child that needs consistency and structure this might not be a good fit. Are you an attachment style parent? Does the provider incorporate this style into her program? How will you prepare your child adjust if not? There are so many things to consider but even then sometimes it’s just doesn’t work out. It’s hard when it happens and no provider likes to see it happen. It’s no one’s fault either.
The overall fact is that you picked your provider and you need to do your homework before. I frequently get inquiries where the only question people as is what I charge. There is so much more to daycare than what they charge and cheaper isn’t better always. Look for quality childcare providers that offer an engaging environment for your child, not the just who is cheapest. I understand that everyone has a budget but don’t decide on potential providers simply by who is the cheapest. Interview several in your price range and decided what one matched your values and needs the most. The one connect with the most. Communication is vital to a successful home daycare setting. Find someone that you feel comfortable with and feel like you can easily communicate with.