Latchkey children are a thing of the past and for good reason. Child care is a necessary part of parenting, and there are many services available today to assist with this tough challenge. Societies now encourage children to learn more, become responsible at an earlier age, and to put it simply, grow up faster. Parents are no longer encouraged to allow a child of seven or eight to take him or herself home after school and stay alone until Mom or Dad get home from work. Sexual predators are a very real threat; a child can be followed home from school and victimized. But if there is child care, this will be avoided.
Today, child care abounds. There is full-time, part-time, drop-in and day care centers. Child care doesn’t have to mean you’re away from your child all day from morning to night, missing the milestones we all enjoy. Depending on your child care needs, and your work situation, sometimes child care can be very minimal. Maybe several hours a week will be all you need from an in-home child care provider, with a backup of drop-in child care for those emergency or unplanned occasions; a drop-in child care provider can be a lifesaver.
You can still interact with your child while he is at child care. Offering to volunteer, especially when your child is in attendance, will make him feel more comfortable when you are not there. Making sure you attend when it is your child’s birthday is an important goal to strive for. Most child care providers and day care centers make a party on a child’s birthday, as do kindergartens and grammar schools. You can also surprise your child and stop by during your lunch break and offer to eat lunch with him, read a book or just play with him. If your child care provider has a website or a newsletter that is sent home, you can plan ahead to attend one of the events they have scheduled, such as a field trip to a museum or a park. Just spending some time with your child is important and meaningful while he is spending his day in child care.
When choosing a childcare center, you should always look for one that offers an open door policy. This simply means you can, or an authorized family member or friend, can enter the childcare center unannounced to visit with your child. You can send you child’s grandparent, or even great-grandparent to visit during the course of the day.
The bottom line is a childcare center should provide your child with the comforts of home, in a safe and loving environment where he or she will flourish.
Making a list would be helpful, having several sessions alone with the child while Mom runs an errand will give you and your child some time to see how the caregiver and your child get along. Through trial and hopefully not very much error, child care can be a cakewalk.