Home or away

When choosing between day care and professional in-home child care, parents must make decisions based on individual circumstances and the needs of their child. Taking everything into consideration, day care is by far the best option. This is because however well-qualified and expert in childcare the professional carer is; the home is not the ideal place for children to learn how to relate to others.

At day care children develop vital skills and interact with others on a regular basis. Social interaction is imperative from infancy and is preparation for the school years ahead.  Children become used to the idea of waking up with the thought of something pre-arranged and some purpose to fulfil. ‘Get ready mommy – got a busy day!’ Your child will exclaim as you help him put his hat and coat on – but there will be none of this if he stays at home every day. He’ll look forward to going out and experiencing the wonders of the world rather than his whole pre-school life becomes dominated by the four walls of home.

Day care provides a wealth of activities that stimulate young minds at their most receptive. This cannot be done as effectively in a home environment where no other children are present. There will be indoor play, outdoor play and a range of group activities that vary each day at a purpose- built centre. The child soon becomes used to what is expected of him from day care helpers and other children. The learning process is thus more rapid.

At day care your child will learn when it’s break time, when it’s dinner time and when it’s time to go home. He will realise that there is a definite structure to his day, not just the ‘Anything goes’ nondescript routine of a day at home which is often too relaxed. There is always a tendency to allow children to sit in front of the television when at home which can be mentally stimulating up to a point if the programme content is appropriate but this will never teach your child any useful interactive skills. Socialising with other children in a pre-school facility is of paramount importance to progress. You’ll be amazed at how quickly he learns away from home but the child who remains there may be slower in grasping new concepts if he does not have other children around him to put learned behaviour into practice.

Your child will be better catered for in places where he sees new people. This is important in the case of an only child who needs to spend quality time with others if he is to learn how to share and not be selfish. The only child can often think the world revolves around him if he does not come into contact with other children during the formative pre-school years.

Of course there may be instances when choosing a day care centre for your child won’t be possible if there is no suitable one within reasonable travelling distance of home. In this case, choose a reputable professional day care provider who already has children so your child won’t be disadvantaged in forming relationships with others.

A pre-school child soaks up information with sponge-like eagerness and each day when you collect him from the day care centre he’ll have something interesting to relate because of the hours spent with other children and the wealth of activities on offer that serve as a firm foundation for learning.

However loving the home environment, children need quality time away and from their parents so it is an essential part of their development to be with responsible adult carers so that they don’t become clingy. Your child will never miss being at home if he is preoccupied with interesting activities all day long and will be able to enjoy time there with you at the weekends so there’s no need to worry about him being too young to be away from home.

At day care there is also provision for your child to sit down and eat his lunch with others of his own age and to learn how to follow instructions from those in authority. He will learn to wait his turn when doing activities such as art, craft and baking, he will comprehend the meaning of such phrases as: ‘Tidy up,’ and ‘Be quiet’ and will be happy with his achievements. When you collect him after you have left your workplace you will sense his feeling of satisfaction too as he runs to greet you with a piece of artwork in his hands shouting triumphantly: ‘Look what I did today mommy!’