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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | PARENTING

What Parents Should Know About Day Care

Some working parents decide to send their preschoolers to a day-care center—a facility that operates similar to a classroom. Would that be good for your child?

 Questions you should ask

Will day care interfere with parent-child bonding? It could. During the early years, a child’s brain develops rapidly in ways that affect how he relates to others. Try to be with your child as much as possible during this formative period.—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.

  •  Parents considering day care should think about how they will maintain a close bond with their child.

Will day care weaken your influence? It could. “The more time preschoolers spend with one another, the more they are influenced by their peers,” says the book Hold On to Your Kids.

  •  Parents considering day care should think about whether they will be able to remain the primary influence in their child’s life.

Will day care give your child an academic advantage when he or she starts school? Some say yes. Others say that day care has little or no impact on a child’s development. In any event, child psychologist Penelope Leach writes: “Try not to let yourselves believe that ‘education’ is the key to getting on in life and that the more a child has of it, and the earlier she begins, the better. If you do, you will underestimate the ‘education’ you have been giving your child since birth.”

  •  Parents considering day care should think about whether it is beneficial or even necessary.

Is it possible for you or your spouse to be a stay-at-home parent? In some cases, both parents work simply to maintain a higher standard of living. Are the benefits worth the cost?

  •  Parents thinking about day care should consider whether they can cut back on expenses so that one parent can be at home.

The decision to send your child to a day-care center should be made only after you have carefully weighed the pros and cons. After doing so, what if you feel that day care is a good choice for your family?

 What you can do

The Bible says that “the shrewd one ponders each step.” (Proverbs 14:15) With that principle in mind, think carefully before choosing any form of day care.

Learn about your options

  •  Some parents choose a child-care home—a residential setting with one or perhaps a few caregivers and a small group of children.

  •  Other parents have a relative, a live-in caregiver, or a babysitter look after their child.

All options have pros and cons. Why not talk to other parents who have used some form of day care? The Bible says: “Wisdom belongs to those who seek advice.”—Proverbs 13:10.

What if you opt for a day-care center? In that case . . .

Learn about the facility

  •  Is it licensed or regulated in whatever way is required by law? What credentials, references, or reputation does it have?

  •  Is the facility clean and safe?

  •  What activities are provided? *

Learn about the caregivers

  •  What training do they have? This would include training in early childhood education, first aid, and CPR.

  •  Are you able to do a background check for any criminal records of those who will take care of your child?

  •  Are there frequent changes in staff? Frequent turnover would mean that your child would have to adjust continually to new caregivers.

  •  What is the child-to-caregiver ratio at the facility? A high child-to-adult ratio might mean that your child will receive less attention than needed. Of course, how much attention your child needs would depend on his age and capability.

  •  Are the caregivers willing to communicate with you about your concerns—or theirs?

^ par. 20 For example, is TV used as a babysitter or does the facility provide activities that are more mentally and physically stimulating?