My children are still young, Victoria recently started daycare, and the days leading up to her first day were difficult. When James started daycare a couple of years ago, we faced major separation anxiety, and I anticipated that I would have to face the same issues with Victoria. At the time, James was over 18 months old, but Victoria was just over a year when she started and still a baby in my eyes.
To my surprise, she has adapted very easily. She might have cried the first three days as I dropped her off into unknown arms, but this morning she eagerly tossed herself towards her teacher and later didn’t want to leave the classroom.
Is it easier because she is younger? Because she doesn’t really understand what is going on? Or is it simply because she’s the second child, as adventurous, and independent as they come.
One thing is clear, the teachers that take my children in every morning are the reason they so eagerly walk in. Yes I go through the dreaded “I don’t want to go to school” tantrums, but most days, I’ll remind James of his favourite teachers, his friends and all the fun things he may (or may not) do, and he’s over it by the time we reach the school and then its a race to the front door.
Thinking back to my own preschool experience, within the very same walls that my children attend today; my favourite classroom memories are of the teachers that gave me the attention that I translated to love. If they loved me, I felt safe. Especially at this age, teachers, caregivers or educators need to possess that nurturing quality that will allow children to feel safe, comfortable and loved. These are the most important qualities of a daycare or preschool.
Today, I see the same in my son. His reluctance to walk into school is easily overshadowed by a teacher reaching out for a hug or the collective cheers of toddlers excited for his arrival. Why does this matter? It matters because I can leave him there stress free. I don’t need to worry about him as I know that he is safe and comfortable. I no longer reconsider the decision to enroll him at daycare, even when I had no other choice.
Thanks to the nurturing relationship his educators offer, my mornings feel less like I am leaving him at school and more like he is being watched by his extended family. Now, this feeling also applies to my little girl, who hugs her caregiver just as enthusiastically as she would her grandmother.
Furthermore, research has shown that a good teacher-student relationship in kindergarten can have a major impact on a child’s educational journey. Children whose teachers are more sensitive to their needs and provide consistent attention are less likely to have behavioral problems later in school. Setting up a good foundation for education begins with their daycare educators.
On that note, my advice to those searching for the perfect daycare for their baby — all the yoga and gluten free diets they can offer your child won’t make up for the most important part, which is the teacher-student relationship. Ask yourself if your child would feel comfortable there. Do the educators reflect your ideas of parenting? Are they pleasant, warm and welcoming? Will they be able to sooth your child’s bumps and scrapes the way you would at home? What would be their methods of discipline? Most importantly, would you feel comfortable leaving your child with them?