Choosing a day care for your little one is a personal decision that depends on your parenting philosophy and your child’s temperament. After you’ve found a facility that you’re comfortable to send your child to each day, communicating with the staff can be tricky when your schedule is busy, and issues are sure to arise at some point.
Here’s how to address any day care problems timeously and sensitively for the best results.
Tabitha Cairns, principal of Junior Colleges Sandton, advises parents to make a point of finding out the process for handling complaints before enrolling their children in any new day care. “Many facilities have developed their own procedures, which can help guide you when seeking a resolution for your concerns. We always stress two-way communication – speak to us and we will offer feedback,” she adds.
Nutrition, allergies, cultural and religious preferences and vegetarian diets are common food concerns for most parents when it comes to meals at a day care. Tabitha says the facility’s managers and parents need to work together to ensure that children with special dietary needs receive appropriate foods, and that these should be discussed before the child is enrolled at the school.
Veronique Mbiatchou, owner and principal of Blue Sea Day Care in Johannesburg, adds that if the crèche can’t provide food to meet your child’s needs, you may be asked to provide appropriate meals and snacks.
If you’re concerned about the food at the day care, you should also ask for a full menu and are entitled to see the recipes used. “Although we have never had a parent request recipes, we would be more than happy to provide them and are open to suggestions,” says Tabitha.
Potty training pressure
Your little one no longer wears nappies during the day at home and she is getting used to the potty. But when you pick her up from day care, she is wearing a nappy and the carer says your child is not ready for potty training. Or maybe you want to delay potty training a little longer, but your chosen day care is encouraging your child to start now.
Your child’s day care should be your best support system when you start potty training, but be aware that some kids are motivated when they see their peers use the potty, while others happily sit on the potty at home and refuse to do this in a group setting.
Toilet-training procedures should be discussed at registration. “We start when the child turns two and during the summer months. If your child turns two in winter, we will wait for warmer days,” says Veronique.
While some older children may need extra encouragement, there should be no pressure on your child and how to toilet train her is, ultimately, your choice. If you’re feeling pressured by staff at the day care, make an appointment with the supervisor immediately. However, first ensure that your wishes are realistic and in the best interests of your child.
Can you ask the day care to change your child’s nap time? “Absolutely, if a parent asked me not to let a child nap because she’s going to bed too late, I would do my best. She would still have quiet time and some special toys or books to read, but a staff member would gently interact with her now and then to keep her awake,” explains Tabitha.
Veronique says, “Yes, but I would also suggest that the child’s nap time is adjusted rather than eliminated. We would try different things to find what works for the child and parent.”
Biting and hitting
Children biting and hitting one another at day care is common, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you pick your child up from crèche and see teeth marks on her arm, or she says that another child hit her. These are difficult issues for day-care staff to deal with, and it’s a phase many children go through when they struggle to communicate as their language skills are not yet fully developed. It’s also something that is impossible to prevent ahead of time.
Veronique advises parents to report any suspected aggressive behaviour or evidence of such to the day-care manager, while Tabitha explains that any biting incident should be noted and discussed with the parents of both children. Staff should find out why the incident has occurred and recommend resolutions.
When drop-off is rushed, or if your child’s primary caregiver at the facility is already gone when you arrive to fetch her, you may never find time for conversations about your child’s accomplishments or progress. “We give out quarterly reports, and we always urge parents to let us know if there’s something they would like to discuss with the teachers regarding their child’s progress,” explains Veronique.
There are other communication methods, including written monthly reports and calendars outlining themes and activities. You can also schedule face-to-face meetings to address your concerns, and your child’s caregiver may offer suggestions on how you can help your child at home.
You walk into the day care’s drop-off area and the TV is on. When you return later in the afternoon, it’s on again and this leaves you wondering whether it has been on the whole day. Research from the University of Auckland suggests that early childhood education services could do more to monitor screen use and encourage children to be active while attending day care. Guidelines on screen time for children at day care are needed, according to the research. Veronique says that parents should be able to raise their concerns with caregivers or the principal regarding screen time.
“Many of our parents feel intimidated to approach us with problems, fearing that they or their child may be seen in a negative light. A suggestions box for parents who want to raise concerns, but remain anonymous, works well,” says Veronique.
The more open the lines of communication are, and the more often you chat to the caregivers, the easier raising concerns will be. While some issues may be minor and easily overlooked, keep in mind that you are your child’s voice and advocate. “If you don’t speak up about issues that are bothering you in relation to the wellbeing of your child, who will?” asks Veronique. For example, discuss the discipline methods used at your child’s day care to ensure that you are comfortable with them and that you can be consistent at home, too.
A good day care will appreciate feedback from parents and deal with any issues as soon as they come to light.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.