Many parents have seen the countless arguments about the benefits and disbenefits of sending a child to daycare, especially from a young age. Unfortunately, the negative press we see about daycare centers is enough to push some moms to avoid them at all costs. However, many women (like single moms) don’t have the luxury to just stay home with the kids full-time.
You know, what, though? Not every daycare is a bad place, and childcare also isn’t bad for every kid. In fact, I sent my babies to daycare once my maternity leave ended, and they both turned out just fine.
My Child Learned So Much In Daycare
Given the fast-paced nature of K-12 education, children need many skills before they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Obviously, you can teach your preschooler many of these skills from home. But they can also learn a lot by attending a daycare that emphasizes early childhood education.
During my child’s first three years of life, she learned basic sign language, colors and shapes, letter and number identification, basic addition and subtraction skills, and how to write her name. By the time she exited the Pre-Kindergarten and started elementary school, she could already read and write basic sentences, too. I was amazed by how much she knew, especially compared to the students I taught in my music classroom.
However, I think what impressed me most was the social-emotional development that occurred within my child’s daycare setting. My child learned how to healthily express her emotions to us from a very young age, which was incredibly helpful in moments when it was hard to tell if she felt angry, upset, or scared. My child also learned how to show kindness and empathy to her classmates, a skill which she continues to display even now as an older elementary student.
Again, I could have provided many of these skills in some form or another at home. But I think learning them alongside peers really enhanced my child’s overall learning experience.
I Believe Daycare Helped My Child Socially Develop
While learning is important for young children, I don’t think that’s the most important gift daycare provides to children, especially toddlers and preschool-aged ones. Instead, I think it’s something much more basic and universal: socialization.
By sending my child to daycare from the time she was 6 months old, I gave her the perfect environment to develop a wide array of social skills that she could never develop at home. By surrounding her with several other children who were the same age, my daughter had to learn how to properly communicate and co-exist with them — which is something children who remain at home until starting public schools may or may not learn.
My child had to learn how to share, express herself, wait in line, and more. She also experienced daily exposure to parallel play, and, later on, cooperative play. Playing with peers offers so many benefits to children, and I think that her early start on these skills ultimately set her up to get along with anyone and everyone once she walked the doors of her Kindergarten classroom.
Furthermore, my child learned about differences between children and how these differences don’t make us more or less important than anyone else, but rather unique in our own ways. She was exposed to children with different hair colors, different skin tones, different ability levels, and different family situations — all of which make us who we are. These early exposures to people who look and sound different can certainly help with teaching inclusion, and I firmly believe this was the case for my child, who even now stresses equality and inclusion for all.
I Still Bonded With My Baby
As you can tell, I feel very strongly about the benefits of daycare for young children. However, many people still argue that these benefits come at a high price: your connection with your child. While it makes sense for people to assume daycare would negatively impact the parent-child relationship since it means less time for parents to spend with their kids, I don’t think that’s actually the case at all. In fact, I know with certainty that I still bonded with my child despite the time she spent in daycare.
As a working mom, I had to set firm boundaries with myself to leave work at work — and I did. When I picked my child up from daycare in the afternoons, I made sure to spend time solely focused on her before starting dinner or throwing in a load of laundry. On the weekends, I made a point to plan time and activities to do with my child so we could bond and connect. I cashed in vacation days to do fun activities, and even planned out specific “Mommy and Me” days filled with all of my child’s favorite things.
When I talk to other parents and look at how they bond with their kids, I really can’t tell much of a difference between my approach and theirs, even with moms who stay at home full-time. I think that’s largely because time itself only does so much to create a healthy bond, and the emotional connection you can establish with your child comes as long as you make an effort to show your child you love them — even if you’re a mom who works full-time.
So you can stop with all the comments about how stay-at-home moms are best and how harmful daycare is to children because I sent my children to daycare. And you know what? They turned out just fine.
Originally published on Moms.com.