There’s a philosophy that I find to be true. “Every thing’s strength will, on occasion, be deemed its greatest weakness.” In the child care business, I see this everyday.
The titles of “teacher” and “babysitter” equally make me cringe. Truth be told, I’m both. Family Day Care is an inseparable blend of learning and survival.
The biggest difference between FDC and Nursery School, is the constantly changing dynamic found in mixed aged groups…hence, the Family part. Last summer’s quiet story time successes cannot not possibly continue into the Fall when the, once frequently napping , babies become busy toddlers on missions.
In order to become a long-term Family Day Care provider, one must have the ability to quickly, and frequently, revise his/her strategies in the daily battles for success. Classroom teachers, not only enjoy, specific “age appropriate” goals but have a clear “exit strategy”, including a date, when the troops will be pulling out. With this in mind, I find my loose regard for organization and an easy-going ability to amend bite-sized goals, my strength. My title? You can call me General… the number of stars that I deserve, varies on a daily basis. Don’t let anyone tell you that every day holds an equal measure of educational accomplishment at ANY child care facility. That’s pure bologna.
This General lies awake in the night, planning brand new winning offensives, which rarely include doing paperwork. (My Child Care licensor seems to find this, my weakness.) Overall, my “shoot from the hip” persona does work for me, though. The baseline in Family Day Care, is keeping the kids from harm and sending them home wanting to return the next day. I just slip in some preschool skill building, some manners and fun, and things start to jibe. Realistic goals offer the shortest route to feeling accomplished. So, on most days, I do feel wonderfully successful.
By now, all these war metaphors may have you wondering about the conflict that looms over these battles. It is the constant need to keep a comfortable home which just happens to occupy the same space where children come to play and learn. In my world, this war will end when the last playpen and “Lost and Found” bag of socks, mittens, and training pants, disappears forever upon my retirement.
In conclusion, the glorious strength of the Family Day Care experience lies in its relaxed, unstructured, family like atmosphere. Parents who expect it to be purely a preschool are hereby forewarned that they will find, those same things, its obvious weakness.