At Storypark we like to share diverse opinions on our blog. This is a guest post from Jane Frazerhurst who founded The Mother Hood – an online community for supporting and empowering all Mothers. She shares her story about when her child started preschool and offers advice to other parents embarking on this journey.
I am currently on the hunt for a daycare for my little one.
You would think that having experience in this area would make it easier but in fact it makes it even harder! Not to mention the fact that I’m not sure how I am going to cope with leaving ‘my baby’ with strangers (ok that is a slight over reaction but I have became such a wuss).
Lets go back a few steps.
Before I had children I was a teacher – I have taught children of all ages but the last 11 years it was 2 – 4 year olds. I was lucky enough to work in a wonderful nursery in London. It was amazing! Part of my role was dealing with parents. Holding their hand through the transition of sending their child to pre school and reassuring them that they would be OK, in fact that they would be more than OK, that they would love it.
I could talk the talk!
Little did I actually know what it was like to leave your precious baby in the hands of someone that you didn’t really know. No matter how much research you have done, how good the recommendation – it still isn’t easy.
Finding the right centre
The first thing you need to do is find the right place for your child and for you.
Talk to friends and get some recommendations – where do their children go? Which centres have a good reputation? What is in your area or easy for you to get to?
Once you have decided and narrowed down your list, go and visit.
This is really important as your instinct will tell you when you walk in the door if it is the place for your family or not.
Talking to the staff will give you a sense of what they are like and whether their philosophy is similar to yours.
Little things I would look for….
- Are the majority of the children happy and engaged in what they are doing?
- Are the staff engaged with the children?
- Early years teachers love children and what you want to see is staff interacting with the children – talking, playing, observing.
Once you have found a centre
Once you have found a great centre to send your child to the hard part starts – you have to send them!
Most places will have a settling procedure and staff will be able to help you out with what to do. Most of us mothers turn into a bit of a wreck at this time so any advice is great.
Though you may be far braver than me!
Most centres will offer a series of visits and then you begin to leave them for periods of time.
This is the time you have to trust the staff to do their job and I can hand on heart tell you that they know what they are doing and have done it before.
They may hustle you out the door quickly if they think that is right, they may assure you that you can stay as long as you like and they will tell you that they will ring if there is a problem.
They will do that!
No one who works with children wants to see any child distressed.
They will call you – especially if you want them to!
When my first child was ready to go to pre school. I picked a fantastic centre but I still found it hard to send her. Here I was with all this experience of working with children and I still found it difficult when she first started.
Don’t be surprised if you get to the car and have a cry. It’s a whole new experience for you and them. No matter how old your child is I think it’s very normal to feel emotional about it.
I felt slightly guilty all morning and had this feeling like something was missing. But that feeling did pass and it did get easier. We are all different and how you react will be different too.
One of the things that I told myself and I truly believe it is true:
“People who work with small children are very special people and love children. They will love my little one almost as much as I do”
Great read about Jane’s experience leaving her child in the care of strangers. Its good to know I am not the only one who feels guilty leaving her child and cries every time I do so.
Thank you Jane, this is such a lovely positive, helpful post for both parents and educators. I too have been in both roles- it isn’t easy, but when caring staff and parents work together the load becomes much lighter and positive outcomes are achieved.