Dear Day Care Teachers,
A recent conversation I had with a near stranger at a meeting seemed to start out well-meaning enough.
Do you have children?
I informed this person of the two delightful minikins I have added to the world.
Little girls are so special! Do you get to stay at home with them?
I am a middle school Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher, I told her.
Spanish! I took Spanish in high school. Don’t remember a word of it today! (This line happens 90% of the time I meet someone new. So. Old.) And working with immigrant children? I don’t know how you do it. It takes a special person. (Her eyes went from bright and jovial to dim with sympathy. I bit my tongue.)
So who watches your children while you work? Do you at least have family around to watch them? (Her eyes muddled with confusion.)
Boom. I dropped the dirty bomb: day care.
Oh, I see. (Her eyes went from sympathetic to wrought with judgement while her head bobbed a slow nod. The running mouth finally had nothing more to say.)
Sadly, this was not the first time for an offensive conversation of this nature. Poor me for not getting to stay at home with my kids. Poor children for not getting to stay at home all day with their mother. Poor us for not having family that lives nearby to help us with this horrendous situation.
Shame on this lady and the others for thinking that our day care kids’ are any less nurtured or loved than any other child.
There are a handful of you day care teachers at our day care who have been a major part of both of my girls’ daily lives from the time they were each about nine weeks old. Others of you came into Scooter Britches’ life at the one-year or the two-year mark.
If your job is anything like mine – and I feel like it probably is – you probably feel overworked, unappreciated, heavily criticized, and rarely praised.
But if you only knew of the impact you have made on our daughters’ lives – particularly for the two-year-old. In all honesty, despite my being a certified and experienced teacher, SB would have likely suffered under my constant supervision, had I been a stay-at-home-mom. I doubt she would have gained half as much knowledge and half as many experiences as she has in your class this year.
Would I have thought to teach her all about clouds, including accompanying art activities? No.
|With her “cloud”|
Would I have taught her a whole curriculum unit on grass, complete with allowing her to grow her own grass in a plastic cup? Heck to the no.
Would my child have experimented with multiple painting techniques each week? Not unless Crayons and a Dora coloring book count. Maybe if I had one of my moments of Pinterest lunacy and found something that seemed doable enough for someone of my limited artistic skill and contempt for messes.
|So proud of one of her day care masterpieces. I love it, too.|
Would I have taught her an entire unit on mud, complete with an outdoor “mud day?” Ummmm…you know the answer on that one.
Would she have the opportunity for multi-sensory activities? Maybe ever so often, but not as many as with you.
Would she have made her own shake-up bottle filled with confetti and buried treasure? And be capable of verbally describing all the treasures inside? Probably not on my watch.
Would she know half as many lullabies, nursery songs, and vocabulary words as she does? Doubt it. My nursery song repertoire consists of about three nursery songs, all of which she learned first from you, anyway.
When you arranged to have your bilingual mother-in-law and your author aunt, Carol Dabney, come do a bilingual story time/music session for Dabney’s children’s book, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, you baked cookies that went along with the story and packaged them for each one of your kiddos. It was such a neat activity that I showed up to watch, too.
|Bilingual story time with author Carol Dabney|
You teach my girls about the sounds that animals make, about different types of transportation, sign language, numbers, colors, alphabet letters, and pirates. While with you, they don’t watch TV. They read books, they play outside, they socialize with others, they acquire manners and acceptable behavior. They LEARN.
You had a “camp-out under the stars night” in your classroom, complete with PJs, s’mores, hot dogs, and glow-in-the-dark stars during the week you led a lesson on the moon and stars. And the two-year-olds had a potluck in the fall to teach each other about the vegetables and side dishes they brought to share. How cool are these activities?!
You see, although I may work extra hard to plan curriculum and hands-on learning activities in my classroom, I often fall short on this at home, instead riding on the coattails of Disney Jr. to get me through the long days. But I don’t ever worry that the girls are falling behind or missing out, because I know where I fall short, you pick up. And not only do you pick up, but you lead a great deal of the time. And this tired, working mom of two is ever-so-thankful. Good day care teachers are the working mom’s besties.
A month ago, I received the call at work that SB was sick and had been continuously puking. When I arrived to pick her up, I found you cradling her in an isolated area, your shirt covered in puke and funk from my pukey and funky daughter. You bathed her, comforted her, and held her when I couldn’t be there to do it.
Only you could have been puked on repeatedly by my SB four days earlier, made sick and home bound yourself (along with your infant daughter) by my daughter’s germs for the next three days, and still welcomed her back with a huge hug on the fifth day.
Not that there aren’t days that I am sad that I leave my own children to go and spend my day with other people’s children, but knowing my girls are with such caring day care teachers means the world.
This summer, as I embrace the role of “stay at home mom,” I will do my best to follow your lead and inject learning experiences into each day. Thank you for all you do in teaching my girls and in teaching me what they need to be doing and when they need to be doing it. Disney Jr. is not the only thing that saves me. I ride on your coattails, too. And many thanks to you for the ride.
—- Mom of Scooter Britches and Little One