Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Child Care Centers Can Support Working Families

I have always been a proponent of at-home parenting or small in-home daycare situations when necessary. I believe that children thrive in a home setting with lots of one-on-one interaction with adults and other children of various ages. Don’t tell this to my kids though because they are both currently in a daycare center that provides rigorous academic programming to age-segregated classrooms. And they love it!

Our family circumstances have dictated this situation and I would never question it around my children, passing on my anxieties and opinions to them. They love their teachers, their friends, and their classrooms. Instead, I try to make the best of this and every situation finding objects of my gratitude wherever possible. I have learned though that there are certain things daycare providers can do that make working parents feel isolated and without the necessary support. To be optimistic, here are a few things that child care centers can do to support working families:

1. Teach in mixed age-group classrooms:
Siblings can learn together
Kids can learn from peers of all ages
Older kids provide some accountability for smaller kids in a family-like setting

2. Provide avenues for parental involvement:
After school workshops for parents
Conveniently scheduled parent-teacher conferences
Consistent daily communication with teachers

3. Provide a consistent schedule of care:
Limited closures for holidays and maintenance
Adequate notice of any closings
Alternative care options in the event of closure

4. Limit required parental preparation:
Provided lunches and snacks for kids
Limited “homework” assignments
Adequate supplies for projects and activities

Some daycare centers provide a daily reminder that working can be a burden for parents while others make efforts to become part of the team allowing parents to work or go to school while maintaining some level of balance and sanity.

What does your daycare center do to support you as a working parent?

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Flexible Workforce Solutions
State College, PA