Daycares get a bad reputation, but I don’t agree with all the negative attention they receive. Sure, your child isn’t getting one-to-one attention and they pass germs around like the plague, but I think the pros outweigh the cons, especially for toddlers.
Not all daycares are created equal. It’s important to find a daycare that is up-to-date on all certifications, accreditations, and regulations, as well as well-trained and compassionate staff. This can make all the difference.
How Toddlers Benefit from Daycare
Toddlers can really benefit from being in a daycare or childcare setting. The reasons below may vary depending on whether they are franchise or individually-owned, but for the most part, these are the important factors that your child will get out of being in daycare.
Most daycares have a curriculum to follow, especially franchise-owned childcare facilities. They follow a lesson plan and learning objectives even for children this young.
There were experts in the field of child development that create these curriculums. They have vast knowledge about what babies and toddlers can and should understand at certain ages. Then, a program is tailored toward those milestones.
There are certain skills that they have to teach to get your baby or toddler learning on par in their development. They may have circle time, structured play, unstructured play, arts and crafts, and other developmentally and age appropriate activities to keep young children engaged.
There is also a review for the parents several times a year of what skills your child has mastered and what areas need more attention.
Learning & Cognitive Development
Toddlers are little sponges for information. At this age and stage of development, their brains are rapidly growing new connections faster than they ever will for the rest of their life. It’s the prime time for knowledge growth and learning.
Since enrolling my daughter in daycare at 21 months, her language and knowledge has exploded. She was already beginning to speak a lot more and have a larger vocabulary, but since starting daycare, I really notice a huge change.
She understands everything being told to her, speaks in 2-3 word phrases, and understands concepts that I didn’t think she would know at this age. Shapes, colors, numbers, and letters are some of the skills she has picked up. She will know all of her colors, numbers 1-20, ABC’s, body parts, and shapes before turning 2!
Singing songs, playing with others, and seeing objects are daily activities that help these children learn quickly. Through daily repetition, toddlers are picking up new information constantly.
Daily Routine & Structure
Similar to a school environment, daycare offers your child structure through out the day. They will do similar activities at the same time everyday, giving them a predictable schedule to follow.
Working in a school setting for many years, I was surprised at how many kindergarteners couldn’t grasp the idea of a daily routine. Some couldn’t follow simple steps of hanging up their coat, putting their lunchbox away, taking out their folder, and sitting down quietly. The earlier your child learns these skills, the easier the transition to school will be.
At daycare, they will have different stations set up throughout the room so they always know where things are and when/how to use them. When they know what activities are coming up, they will tantrum less and get excited for the next event.
Getting your toddler on a daily routine could be one of the best things for them. Giving them the predictability of a schedule and consistency of activities will help ease their minds instead of never knowing what will be asked of them.
Since toddlers don’t understand the concept of time, they thrive on predictability of routine. Even though they won’t get that they eat breakfast at 8am, circle time at 8:30, reading at 9:00, and arts and crafts at 9:30, they will pick up the consecutive nature of their activities.
For instance, they will know that after they eat, they sing songs in circle time. Then after they sing songs, they get to read a book. After they read their books, they’ll sit at the table and get a little messy with paint.
Imagine being a child and never being able to plan out what you want to do or knowing what you have to do next. It could create a very anxious feeling for them that they may not be able to communicate.
When their day is predictable and routine, it could reduce any anxiety or fears that they may have when not having full control over their daily activities.
Toddlers learn so much from being around their peers: socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. From listening to them speak to proper behaviors, other children model both good (and bad) behaviors for a toddler.
They don’t JUST learn behaviors and social skills either, but may learn cognitive concepts too. Your toddler might have a hard time following or understanding things when an adult is teaching them, but when another toddler is doing it, it may be much easier to pick up.
One of the greatest gifts for your child is to let them interact with other children their age. They will learn how to act appropriately, share, care, be a friend, and many other social skills.
Building an immune system
This is obviously a gentler way of saying that your baby will probably get sick a lot. No one wants to see their child ill, especially a young baby or toddler. However, the illnesses and germs that they pick up at this age will help to build their immune system.
If they stay home all the time, and never get sick, they are bound to catch illnesses somewhere else. If their bodies don’t start getting adjusted to germs when they’re young, when they’re older it could be worse.
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Feedback from other caregivers
When I bring my toddler to daycare, I like that I get feedback from different adults everyday on how my child is doing. You may not always recognize potential issues or skills that your toddler could have.
Whether or not they are being 100% honest about my child’s behavior is always up for interpretation. However, I can ask the teachers how my child is acting, behaviors that should be addressed, or issues that could potentially arise that I may not otherwise see with the bias of being their mom.
I always ask about how my daughter acts around the other children, if she is picking up concepts and skills age appropriately, and if she is being respectful and sharing.
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Within just a few weeks of starting daycare, my 21 month old’s language and vocabulary has exploded. She is able to string 2 or 3 words together, has an exceptional vocabulary, and can communicate in conversation.
Being around other children and adults while also being taught new skills is priceless. When they are alone and have to communicate with another child, they are testing their ability to make conversation and get their needs and wants met.
Through trial and error and practice they will start to figure out how to speak to others to tell them how and what they are feeling. Their vocabulary will improve just by being placed in an environment that allows growth and exploration.
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Franchise-owned daycares have certain regulations to keep the classroom environment clean. They may have to use certain products, clean at certain times of day, and not allow certain items into the classroom.
If you’re using an in-home childcare provider, they may not have the same regulations kept up and no one is overseeing them. I am confident that the daycare I use has to properly clean all toys and items used at the end of everyday.
Although they may clean as much as they can, germs will still be spread. A good cleaning routine may partially reduce the spread of illnesses, however not completely.
Someone is overseeing their care
In franchise-owned daycares, I like the fact that someone is always overseeing what’s going on. There is usually a director of the facility, along with other administrative positions.
These roles should be checking in on the classrooms and making sure all the rules and regulations are being followed, the children are being properly cared for, and that the curriculum and standards in the room are being taught.
Separation from mom and dad
If you’re comparing to a nanny or in-home babysitter/childcare, this doesn’t relate. However, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, your child may be used to being by your side at all times. This can be really tough on them when being left with anyone else beside you.
At a daycare, there’s not just one adult, but many in and out of the room daily. This is also better for their ability to be around lots of other people and not to only know one caregiver.
Getting them used to being with other adults and children should reduce any breakdowns or anxiety your child gets when they’re around or left with others. The earlier they understand that mom or dad comes back after they leave them, the better off they will be.
Having fun and making crafts
I love that my daughter gets to do lots of fun activities and arts & crafts that I may not have time to do with her. She is exploring all of her sensory environments and using lots of different supplies to make art.
She has learned to love coloring, painting, and drawing. She has a blast gluing, tearing paper, and cutting. Arts and crafts help explore your child’s imagination and creativity.
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Preparation for school
As stated above, your toddler will have a. consistent daily routine and schedule when in daycare. They will be taught by other adults and socializing with other students. They’ll sing songs, make music, dance, play, and learn.
They will be forced to open up to get their needs met, be creative with supplies and toys they are given, and explore a new world outside of their home. It’s a great opportunity for them to practice what it’s like to be in a school setting.
So if you’re debating enrolling your child in daycare, I would really consider it. My daughter loves her experience and can’t wait to go each morning.
It may be scary at first to leave your child, but you won’t regret it.