Last year Sierra attended a large daycare center here in Boston. The center had many rooms, a gym, security cameras everywhere and many teachers and directors milling about. This year we decided to remove her from the center and enroll her in a small home day care near our home. The center vs home daycare debate has been going on forever and there is truly no right answer. The only ‘right answer’ I can provide to you is whatever works for you and your family is whats right. Not all centers are the same and not all home day cares are the same. Our center had many pros and cons, but in the end the cons outweighed the pros. It was always very clean, bright and full of huge castles and ride on toys. The children had their very own cots to sleep on. Thats about all the pros I can think of. Sierra went through four teachers in less than one year. When a child is that young it takes them awhile to warm up and feel comfortable with someone and then when they finally do POOF they were gone and here came someone else we had to get to know. Some teachers did not know she was vegan even though it was posted on a wall, we walked in as they were feeding her buttered popped corn once. It was very expensive and did not feel cozy what so ever, it was on the third floor of a building that houses dentists, doctors and offices.
Two weeks ago Sierra started at a home day care only a few blocks from our own home. The daycare is licensed by the state and goes through all the same red tape, inspections and scrutiny that a day care center does. It is safe, cozy and feels like we are dropping her off at an aunty’s house and not an office for children. Sierra is now one of only three children instead of one of 30. Making the decision to switch was not easy but I am glad we did it. Sierra went a full 9 months at the center and nearly every day drop off was a NIGHTMARE (sorry for the all caps rage but trust me it was bad). We are only two weeks in our new daycare and Sierra is already much better. This is not to say that if your child is sad at your center you should switch to a home and all will be better like I said earlier the only ‘right answer’ is what works for you and your family.
One of the most important things about the home daycare to me is it’s size. I love that Sierra is only one of three other children. When there are 10 children in a room with only one adult it is impossible that your child will receive as much one on one attention as when she or he is only one of three, it’s just numbers people. That personal attention truly matters to me. I want Sierra to be in an environment where she feels loved, appreciated and special. She’ll have her entire life in school to feel like a face in the crowd, I want her to enjoy this unique period in her life while she can.
Another reason I love the small size is the freedom it provides. Something I never liked at the center was the children were in the “Toddler Room” which didn’t have a door, it had a gate. The children were not free to move about if they wanted. This type of environment made it seem like it was some sort of toddler farm. At the home daycare there is a living room, a play room, a kitchen, etc and everything is connected GATE FREE. Sierra can play with the babies in the living room and then decide she wants to draw at the art table in the play room. She doesnt need to bang on a gate and cry and be told “It’s not art time”. This type of freedom would not be possible at a center there’s just too many children and not enough adults to supervise. There is a curriculum and structured play time at the home day care it’s just not as rigid or gated if you will as the center.
I am not trying to persuade any center-families to come over to family daycares, or vise versa. I just wanted to take a minute and tell you my experiences with them. As a family we are overall much happier at the home daycare and I feel Sierra is getting a greta amount of personal attention she wasn't receiving at the center. Whatever makes you and more importantly your child the happiest is what you should do. Feel free to leave your responses or own personal stories about daycare, good or bad, in the comments below! Thanks. -Craig
I won't miss this face in the morning. I much prefer how this morning went: "Bye Bye Dada Ruv You!" as she skipped off to play with her little friend Maggie.