Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Struggling with daycare decision

Internet, I have good news and bad news from the daycare front. The good news? Cameron was accepted into the JCC pre-school program I mentioned in earlier posts. The bad news? I’m not sure I want to move her out of her current daycare. I’ll pause here for gasps of shock. Yes, I have turned into that wishy-washy parent that can’t make up her mind. Let me lay out the pros and cons and ask you, my dear Internet friends, to weigh in and help me grow a spine and make a decision.

Pros – Structured as a “school” during the year and camp in the summer. There are tons of enrichment activities offered (art, music, gym, library, swimming lessons, etc.). It is closer to our house but commute-wise I don’t think it will really make a difference (maybe 10-15 minutes less). Of course I say that during a summer commute time which is always easier. I also like the religious aspect of it, not that either of us is religious. It’s more about the teaching of morals, history, etc.

Cons – It will cost $350 more a month (but will also give us year-round access to the community center). We have to provide Cameron’s food which is annoying but doable. The price does not go down as Cameron gets older and the ratios go up. It is a religious school so they do not have to adhere to the same daycare standards as certified daycares. It’s all white kids. Seriously, zero diversity aside from religion, of course. Being a Jewish program they follow the conservative Jewish calendar for holidays which means there are 12 extra days we will need to find other daycare for Cameron - many of those consecutive days. That means an additional cost of approximately $500 (even assuming we can find a drop-in place!). Not to mention the stress of having to change the routine up for those days and asking Cameron to be flexible. This might be the biggest con for me and DH.

When I started frantically looking for another daycare it was because the Assistant Director and Director both left our current school within 2 weeks of each other. But the transition seems to be going OK. My biggest concern about our current place is what they will be doing for education and enrichment activities. Education is less of a concern but they don’t offer any music or language or structured gross motor/fine motor activities. The other thing for us to think about is that in either situation we will have to find new care for Cameron when she starts pre-K or Kindergarten. I don’t know enough about full time vs. part time K programs but I assume after school care will be required. Our current daycare does pick up but not at the schools she would potentially attend. Of course at that point, after 5 years on the waiting list maybe we’ll finally get her into my first choice?

There it is. My dilemma. Any words of wisdom out there? Or questions I should be asking myself or the schools?


LauraC said...

I'll try to address the issues as you have them set up.

Activities: realistically, as Cameron gets older, you will not have MORE time to add in activities outside of school time. We have put the boys in swim lessons, soccer, music, Gymboree, etc but it is always crazy and someone is always crying or we are rushing or someone is sick. So if you want additional activities, I would count on school to provide them.

Commute: bedtime stays at 7-7:30 until they go to school so getting extra time each day is NICE.

Holidays: I wouldn't worry about her flexibility. It's harder when they are babies but as they get older, they look forward to new activities. But this one would be a pain for me logistically too.

If it were me, I would only change things if I felt that the pros far outweighed the cons. The extra time out of school and making meals are two big cons for me. We already have to juggle time with sick kids so to add in extra days off would be too much for us.

PS. I never worry about the cost of my school because I know it is the right place for them. It's worth the money for the care, not sure if that helps?

A. said...

My daycare has at various times offered enrichment activities like music, phys ed, etc - all for an extra price. They allow an outside group to come in and teach classes to anyone who signs up and pays extra. Sorry, but our daycare is expensive enough - we never sign Finn up. It's a crock of crap, IMO.

I would worry less about enrichment activities - she's only 1. There is lots of time for that, and you can also introduce her to some stuff at home or through weekend classes (we've done Saturday soccer, Fun Fit, and swimming classes at various times, but I've also seen language classes, craft classes, and more offered through our county). We are guilty of not doing enough fun-but-educational things with Finn (and now Lucy) on our own time - it's easy to get lost in the hurry of weekend errands, or the need to relax for just a little bit. Some of it is laziness, some of it is that we don't really know what to do with him, but there is no excuse, we need to be better about it.

You need to find out more about your daycare's own pre-school curriculum - what do they do with the kids once they are old enough for more structured learning? I'm sure they do SOMETHING - learning to identify and write letters and numbers, etc. If they don't, then maybe you really should switch. But if they do offer a curriculum, and you are happy enough with your current provider, you shouldn't feel guilty about not switching. Seriously, you have lots and lots of time to worry about whether Cameron is getting the best "education" she can.

Donna said...

Ditto what the others said - really. I don't have much to add here. I really look at how comfortable my children are and whether or not I trust the person(s) taking care of them