Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Daycare Situation

I’ve written a few times in the recent past about Emmy’s transition from a “waddler room” to a “toddler room” at her daycare center. While at first I was trying to be optimistic about the required change, I am no longer feeling so rosy about the situation. The new room that Emmy has transitioned to is rubbing me the wrong way for so many reasons, a few of which I have listed below.
Issue #1: Em has been placed in a room with children theoretically ranging in age from 18 months to three years old.  The problem is that in reality, all of the nine other children in Emmy’s classroom are way more on the 3 year old side of the spectrum than they are on the 18 month old side of the spectrum. This means Emmy is surrounded by kids that are twice her height, who have three times the motor skills she has, and a vocabulary of about ten times as many words as Em is currently speaking.
Initially, I was looking forward to Em being around older kids. I thought it would be great for her development. But when I realized that she would be the ONLY little kid in a sea of older toddlers (and in my mind, three year olds don’t even qualify as toddlers, since they are no longer “toddling”), I got a little nervous. The new teachers tell me that all of the kids in Emmy’s class think of her as “the baby” of the group and treat her as such. Every time I have arrived at pick up in the afternoon, Emmy is being held in her teacher’s arms, as if the teacher ALSO thinks of her as a baby. I don’t think Emmy’s development is going to thrive if she is treated like a baby among big kids. I just wish she were with kids who were more her age and at her level of development.
Issue #2: For the three weeks that Em was transitioning to her “toddler room”, she had two teachers who seemed very lovely, engaged, and interested in Em’s adjustment. Those teachers have disappeared. I know one of them left the daycare center altogether. I am not sure what happened to the other teacher. So Emmy’s first few full days in her new room have been spent with new teachers with whom she has no familiarity. Not very helpful at all.
Issue #3: For the first two days that I dropped Emmy off in her new room, the teacher’s assistant very aggressively grabbed my daughter out of my arms. She didn’t even give me a chance to say goodbye to Emmy! Em was howling up a storm, screaming “mama!” and the teacher’s assistant just whisked her away and made a “shoo”ing motion at me. I’m sorry.. whaaat? That is just NOT okay in my book. It was Emmy’s first week in a new environment. I should be allowed to stay a few minutes with her, to ease her into unfamiliar surroundings.  
I didn’t want to make a scene, because I figured the LAST thing Emmy needed on her first week in a new classroom was her mama screaming at the people she was supposed to trust and connect with. Instead, I turned on my heels and quickly exited the building. I headed to my car where I cried into my steering wheel (daycare issues combined with pregnancy hormones do not combine well). I felt so confused, frustrated, and hurt.
When I dropped Emmy off at daycare this morning, the teacher’s assistant did not grab her from me (thank goodness, because I was ready to whollop her if she did). But Emmy tensed up when the teacher came to get her from me. Her whole body went rigid and she turned her face away from her teacher as the teacher approached. When I finally handed her off, Em screamed bloody murder (and I went to my car to cry again). To me, that is not a good sign.
Issue #4: When I dropped Emmy off at daycare this morning, Em’s teacher had misplaced an incident report from yesterday, stating that Em had bumped her head. When I inquired as to what had happened, her teacher told me she had been sitting in a chair that was meant for BIGGER KIDS, and that she fell over in the chair. So why was Emmy allowed to sit in one of the big kid chairs to begin with? Why didn’t they just put her in a chair that was more suitable for her? Rrrgh.
Issue #5: When we arrived at Emmy’s new room this morning, there was only one other three year old boy who had arrived prior to us. The boy was sitting by himself, on (not at) one of the classroom tables, looking completely bored out of his skull. Neither the teacher nor the teacher’s aide was trying to engage him in activities. The entire time I was there (a good 15 minutes or so), neither of the teachers spoke a single word to the boy who was sitting by himself, staring at the windows. It was just so weird, and felt very wrong to me. Very wrong.
Because of the above listed issues, and a few other weird mother’s instinct kind of feelings I’ve gotten from Em’s new room and teachers, I’ve decided to look for a new daycare program. I have an appointment to check out one program tomorrow, and have an application in at another program that came highly recommended from a co-worker. I’m hoping that one of these centers will work out. I know that at both centers, Em would be in a room with children who are more her age, which comforts me greatly.
In the mean time, I don’t know if it is worth talking to the director of Em’s current daycare center. I feel like all of my concerns are valid, but if my intent is to take Emmy out of their program, is it worth stirring the waters and voicing my issues? Because the other children in Em’s class are so much older, their parents might not share many of my worries. Still, in the interim, I would like to not dread bringing Emmy to her daycare room for three days each week, and if there is anything that could be done to help resolve some of these matters, maybe that would be of some consolation.
What would you do in my situation?


  1. Oh sweetie. I'm sorry daycare has given this whole time extra stress! Hugs.

    As you know, I don't have kiddos but I have left programs and groups before. Loving you and your muchkin and say the following:

    You know your guts are generally spot on (even when you're barfing them up) and the concerns you've voiced would sound to me like other options are not only worthy of consideration, but warranted at this time.

    You could give them your concerns and see what they say while you're looking, not telling them that you are. This could be a whole "perfect storm" of crap (wrong ratio of ages in the room, staff mobility, other) happening right now and given the opportunity to correct the issues, they might come through in big ways.

    Another option would be to share your concerns when you have a better idea of where you are comfortable going. That way, you have an "escape plan" so to speak and they still get a chance to step it up.

    As for what I would do when leaving, I say absolutely, tell them why. If you want to put it in writing to the center director, that's likely easiest, but they should know why people are leaving. I've heard generally good things about the program Em's currently in and would imagine they would like to know that people aren't happy.

    1. Totally sound advice. Thank you so much for your thoughts on the situation. I've been a little worried that my out-of-whack hormones were making me uber sensitive to what is going on, and that maybe I should just wait things out before acting on my feelings. But I also think, like you said, I have to listen to my mama instincts. And my mama instincts are telling me there are a whole buncha things that are off-kilter in Em's room.
      Maybe I will wait until tomorrow, after my visit to one of the other daycare options, before I talk to the director. If the other daycare seems like a viable PLAN B, I think it will make me feel more secure in voicing my concerns, as you've said.
      Much hugs and thanks,

  2. First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy. Yay! Anyway, I totally wanted to hug you when I saw how upset you were that day, I just was not sure what to do. I think that you need to do what is right for you and seriously, having your kid with almost three-year-olds is not okay. When the daycare place was made to shuffle the ages by the state, moving up the 18-month-olds, they moved a bunch of kids out of my oldest's room and put younger kids in. As a result, we had toliet training regression and baby talk from G and really bad behavior. Things seemed to have normalized, but the amount of change was insane. R and L have to move in less than two months and I am concerned.

    I have been told by parents who have had kids at your daycare for a long time that the director is receptive. And there are other rooms. The room that J from her class moved into is supposed to be really excellent. I would tell the director that you are so upset that you are looking at other schools and you just do not know what to do. Tell her that you had a positive experience in the old room. My colleague, who has three kids thru kindergarten at that place told me that she actually requested specific rooms for her kids each year and the director granted her requests each time.

    I had a really bad exoerience with G's last school (before we moved here) and I would have pulled him out had we not relocated. And I did meet with the director of that school and did not get the response that I wanted.

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel. It is really comforting to hear that the director of the program is receptive and responsive. I always feel like I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I only send Em part time (3 days), not full time, so that my concerns may be less prioritized than other parents'. But I think you are right that I should at least give the center a chance to hear my concerns and respond to them before pulling Emmy out altogether. Based on their response (and my experiences at other daycares I am considering), I can make a more informed decision.
      I really appreciate your input, and truly hope that R and L's transitions are smooth and as UNtraumatic as possible. I did hear that many parents were voicing concerns about the age groupings, so maybe they will change their policies before R and L are due to leave the waddler room.
      Many many thanks for your comments,

  3. I agree that 18 month to 3 year old is a huge range to have together. I would definitely tell the current Director the feelings and situations you are experiencing. It is your child they are watching for x amount of hours each week. Who else is going to stick up for her?

    I would also continue to look at other centers too for back up reasons. You know that I recommend the daycare that Alanna goes to in a heartbeat. I would be happy to give you the info if you are interested.

    Hang in there!!

    1. Thanks, Kel. Yeah, I've felt nervous about speaking up, but I do believe it is my parental duty to make sure Em is getting the best care possible. I think I am going to swing by her daycare center after I visit another option tomorrow morning, and see if I can speak to the director.
      I will definitely let you know if we continue to look for an alternative. You are lucky to have found a place you are so happy with (and that Alanna is so happy with, of course). :)
      Much hugs,

    2. Good luck on all accounts! *hugs*