The TSL Kids Crew Blog
Don't get offended. When we talk about children, often times pet owners think of their favorite furries at home. But in the case of childcare, we're talking about the kids.
Though many beaches, pools, rental units, and many other public and private locales have restrictions on bringing pets, childcare centers, summer camps, and after school programs don't widely announce pet policies, yet there are many things to consider before walking your Great Dane into a childcare program when picking up your children.
I've seen it happen all too often when parents enter program to pick up their kids with laps dogs bundled in their arms or bull dogs strutting in on a leash. I have even seen children in programs at public parks be distracted by the locals as they decide to walk their dog over to all the kids because...what kid would want to miss out on hugging, petting, or just staring at a strange four four-legged friend being toted around by a stranger?
Believe it or not, and though we are in the midst of winter, it's that time of year again where summer camps start pre-enrolling for what is, for most children, a magical time of year when they get to go to summer camp and see old friends, counselors, an enjoy tons of recreational fun outdoors in the heat of the season.
But what is summer camp? What isn't it? Those are two fundamental questions parents should have the basic answers to before sending their child off, whether it is to an overnight camp or a day camp.
I recall a long time when I first started in the daycare business, a lawyer that I was consulting with at the time said that daycare was a terrible business model. He said this because kids age out, and so the cycle of finding a new market of clients is never ending. I ignored him at the time and as my daycare company grew more expansive, I thought about his words in a you-were-so-wrong fashion. But...was he?
I have to say, I am a fan of age-integration in schools and school-age childcare. In my teaching days, I taught age-integrated classrooms in the primary years and the benefits were clear. The knowledge and experiences of older children can be easily handed down through peer tutoring, partner learning, and social skills building, as younger children take cues from older children's more mature ways. Older children also get perspective and gain empathy for younger children who are in a developmental place that they can relate to.
Some people are uncomfortable with this notion, however, as they worry about the propensity for older children to bully younger children, or for more sophisticated knowledge being passed on down from older children to younger children. Some teachers worry about how to diversify their curriculum to meet the needs of a wider academic range (which does require a lot more differentiating, which means a lot more work), and also there is that traditional model of educating children in specific age groups, which is a mold that is hard to break when everyone is so used to a particular standard.
Thankfully, in childcare, integrating children from ages 5-12 is par-for-the -course. Not for everyone, as there are some centers that will use classrooms or separate spaces for their younger children and older children, but I was never a fan of this. Author Alfie Kohn explains that in real life, we don't do things in age groups. When you get a job you work with people your own age, as well as other co-workers who have been in the business for thirty years. When you attend concerts, movies, restaurants, we aren't sitting in groups of people our own age. Many families too have children whose ages are across the board. If you are a five-year-old who has an eleven-year-old sister or brother, what are the benefits of that?
As I sit here on a Sunday night, thinking about the work week ahead, I ponder the life of a typical child that we cater to in our childcare programs and often and it gives me pause to thank God for the simplicity of my own 80's childhood.
I am not one to lament about the days gone by and try to make it sound like the world is a terrible place because it changed over the last 50 years. Change is inevitable, and of course every era one grows up in is the "best" era after all. I think this is a great era, though it is certainly more complex and kids seem to have less time to themselves than I did growing up.
What I dwell upon with kids today in comparison to my own childhood, is the length of a child's day, and how often times it means children don't have time to make choices, or do anything more than what everyone else around them has decided they should do.
It happens all the time in childcare. More often in summer camp. Parents eager to provide their child with the best program possible to meet their child's needs do varying amounts of homework in advance, but sometimes not enough.
In one recent experience, a parent enrolled their kindergarten child into one of our summer camps. They must have read about our reputation or heard about us from a friend and thought that we sounded ideal. They didn't tour the facility, ask how many children were in the program, who was in charge, how to get a hold of someone in case of emergency, if we travel, or any of those pre-enrollment questions that most families ask. They just...showed up, equipping their child with a tracking bracelet, but not telling us. So when police showed up on our program doorstep thinking the child was abducted because we took a group of summer campers (the child included) to the local park a quarter mile a way, we suddenly were the worst program on the earth.
At one of my first job interviews for a teaching position, the interviewer asked me to answer the question, “Is fair always equal?” As a full-fledged novice, I had never heard of this expression before, so I stewed for a moment before answering, the whole time steeped in thought, understanding that my response could make or break a job offer.
This was not a question like “What is your philosophy of education?” or “what is your approach to teaching reading?” This was a more humanistic question with only one clear way to respond, though it sounded like a question that could generate an opinionated response. That was the trick. Live and learn on that day.
At the time I responded, “yes,” with much confidence. “Fair is always equal.” I can’t remember how I justified this response, but I was confident when doing so. After all, you can’t do for one child and not the other. Right? Wrong.
Raising a child is difficult enough, but doing it as a divorced or single parent in today’s world comes with even more challenges. Besides the normal struggles of balancing a career and family life, now parents have to navigate a global pandemic, help their children combat bullying and protect their mental health. Although there may be more difficulties in raising your kids alone today, there are ways to parent successfully on your own and create a thriving environment for your children.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
Taking your child to a child care center equates to a certain cost. This should not, however, be a major concern as the child is growing up and soon you will be out of that category. While some parents prefer to stay at home with their kids until they reach school going age, this might not be possible for parents who are working on a tight budget in raising their family up.
The best option they have is to take their kids to a child care center and continue with whatever they do to bring bread on the table. To make a concise decision on whether to take your child to a daycare program or raise them yourself you have to consider a variety of variables.
These are the factors which you need to consider in determining whether “is child care worth the cost or not?” Learning social skills is a very important thing for the child. The more a child interacts with the peers, the more social skills they develop. Since at home you might not have the time to engage your child in various activities it is worth taking him to a day care center.
The outdoors is the best driver of your child’s inspiration. Medical researchers found kids who get outdoors are calmer and have better cognitive function. Artists know it, too. Impressionist painter Claude Monet once said, “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.”
Getting your kids to play in the backyard may not turn them into master artists, but it will help improve their moods and their minds. And with that in mind, here are some of the best backyard playscapes for kids.
Best Bang For Your Buck
The Ideas Written About In This Blog Are Based On The Personal Opinions And Philosophies Of The Contributor Who Has Taught Elementary School For Twelve Years And Has Run A Recreational Childcare Business Since 2009.