Even if you’re a stay at home parent, you may feel the pressure to send your toddler to preschool or daycare. Your friends or relatives might argue that doing so is best for the child.
Benefits of Daycare
To be sure, there are some wonderful benefits to having your child attend a structured program outside the home—they get to socialize with other children, they learn to be more independent (and to realize that even when you leave them, you will come back), and they may learn important concepts like singing songs or learning numbers. Often, they also get the chance to do arts and crafts.
These are all good things for your child, and if you stay home but would like to have your child in a daycare program at least part of the day, there are benefits to doing so.
Drawbacks to Daycare
Of course, one must also look at the flip side of sending your child to daycare.
Notably, your child may get sick more frequently because she’s exposed to more children and more germs. When my son was in daycare, he was sick at least once a month in the winter, if not more.
Some children are attached to their parents and are not yet willing to be independent. Two of my children did just fine with spending some time at daycare. The third cried most of the time she was there. The teachers told me she’d adjust, but after three months when she was still crying at daycare for several hours a day, I pulled her out and kept her home with me. She just wasn’t ready yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
How to Get the Benefits of Daycare While Your Child Stays Home with You
If you’d really like to spend your days with your child and don’t want to send them to daycare just yet, you can give your child many of the benefits of daycare without actually sending him to a daycare program.
There are plenty of ways your child can get socialization if you opt not to send him to a daycare program.
Story Hour. Most libraries have toddler story hours several times a week. Take your child at least once a week (if not more), and he’ll learn how to interact with others his age. He’ll also learn by the stories he hears and the activities he does afterward.
Supervised Programs. Another option is to attend some type of program where your child is in another area, but you’re still on-site. For instance, MOPS is a nationwide program that has meetings/educational sessions for mothers. While moms attend, their children are in another room having a daycare-like experience. If your child needs you, you’re right on site.
One of the big draws to daycare is that your child will likely get educational experiences. However, if you want, you can certainly recreate those in your own home or in outside classes.
Classes. At the toddler age, there are plenty of classes for parents to take with their children. Kindermusik is a nationwide program that teaches kids through music and movement. Likewise, you can take classes at your local park service or even at the zoo. There are so many opportunities available where you and your child can take a class together.
Home Play. At the toddler age, you shouldn’t push your child to learn, and you shouldn’t have to. Toddlers are naturally curious, and the best thing you can do is expose them to different activities that provide education. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas as well as blogs like this one that cater to activities for toddlers.
Reading Aloud. Another great thing you can do is just spend time reading out loud to your toddler. While you and your toddler may look at reading as just fun, doing so is actually laying the groundwork for strong academic ability later in school. Jim Trelease, an educator and the author of the book, Read-Aloud Handbook, says, “It’s long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary” (Great Schools).
Because so much educational instruction at school, especially in the younger grades, is oral. If your child has a strong vocabulary, she understands more of what the teacher is saying. One of the most important things you can do with your toddler every single day is to read to her.
Sending your child to daycare can be a good option, especially if you work full-time. However, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, know that you can also provide a strong emotional and educational foundation for your child right at home.
Do you send your toddler to daycare, or do you plan to keep her home during the toddler years?