It wasn’t too long ago that we talked here about preschools & daycare. I was so happy that we switched Mini G from a nationwide, corporate owned daycare to an in-home daycare. Overall, things have been going well. There’s a little anxiety at the drop-off, but if I stick to the routine of her walking me to the door then she’s fine. No tears, though, which is great. One thing I love is that when I pick her up she’s really excited to see me, but she grabs my hand and wants to show me around the classroom area or what she was doing outside. She’s not in a big rush to leave, like she was at the other school.
Flashback to last year, on a morning that I took her out for an activity. Before we went into the place, I gave her part of a chocolate donut. She loved it, of course. At that point we gave her almost no sugary things and definitely not donuts. When we got home, we weren’t in the house more than 5 minutes when she threw out a melodic, ‘I really, reaaalllly loooooove donuts!’ I said nothing. She repeated it to make sure George heard her and I thought, I’m busted. Not only am I busted, but from now on I know she’s going to tell whatever’s on her mind and relay the days events.
Back to recent days. Our little reporter — yup — tells all of our business, your business and anyone else’s business she comes across. Not in a tattling way. She just shares information and just about all of it is true; not made-up. At this age, there’s a little fantasy at play, but overall she’s very specific and accurate about details when she shares her observations. So when she one day said that she watched Caillou at school, I believed her. And I was disappointed. First in myself because I never asked about the tv policy. I didn’t see any at the school. The daycare provider never brought it up. I/we just assumed it wasn’t a part of the program. After being disappointed in my lack of thoroughness, I felt a little dejected about the school. As in, dang, it was just too good to be true.
I immediately called the daycare provider and she said she wasn’t there that afternoon, but would get back to me after she spoke w/the other teachers to find out what had gone on. She called me back quickly and explained that tv isn’t a regular part of the progam, but sometimes she uses it for one student whos’s having a problem transitioning to daycare. It’s something that the parents want. ? I’m trying to not pay attention to that situation since it’s not my biz. As far as the regular students, the daycare provider uses tv for kids yoga and sign language. Both programs are a matter of minutes and it’s not like it’s on for hours. At any rate, she was apologetic and said she won’t allow Mini to watch tv given how I/we feel about it. The teacher who allowed Mini to watch tv for that short period was also apologetic when I saw her. I felt a little bad, like I’d made a big deal and put them on edge. But I’m trying to ask questions and not dismiss things that are little flags. I did state that using it for educational purposes was fine. She also said she sometimes uses it at the end of the day, particularly if the weather is bad. Understandable, whether we like it or not.
That incident was a few weeks ago. When I did the drop off yesterday, the kids were sitting classroom style watching something. Yup, on tv. One of the teachers said. ‘Let’s go outside.’ It was 9 o’clock and it’s possibly something they normally do before starting circle time. The weather has been really good. I’d send them outside, too. But I also thought maybe they were indulging in some tv time since my little reporter wasn’t there to take notes. I discussed it with George and we decided that we’re just waiting and watching to see what happens. We have mixed feelings about it. The problem we have with tv is that it’s not interactive. Even if I let her watch tv babysit her at home (being honest), I’m usually sitting right beside her working on the computer. I’ll ask her questions about what she’s watching or participate a little bit with the program here and there. Baby Einstein and Mickey Mouse are particularly good about asking the viewer to join in. I’m not completely tuned to the program the entire time, but I am making sure she’s thinking about what she’s watching and not just zoning out. We worry that the daycare might use it as a tool to baby sit the kids at times so they can get other things done, i.e. meal prep.
It’s a fight against screens these days, isn’t it?! Mini wants the phone time with apps and she wants tv time. Sometimes she has cried when I take the phone away or turn the tv off. Particularly the phone, perhaps because she knows how to navigate and can even install free apps. I definitely have to keep my eye on her when she’s on the phone. I use tv and the phone to entertain her more than George does. He’s good about playing with her and thinking up games with or outside of the toys we have. I do better getting out of the house where I can’t do dishes, laundry or be on the computer. So she and I spend a lot of time together — more than she spends solo with him. I take her to the store with me and all that. Therefore, I don’t have a problem letting her watch tv 30-60 min a day because a lot of times we were together playing, singing and talking all day. Truth be told, some days she’s watched it way more than that! I just try not to feel guilty about it and balance it out on other days with no tv. Now that she’s in school more, I’m spending less time with her. She’s definitely watching less tv at home now than she was before. So I should be ok with her watching a little at school, if that’s what ends up happening.
As I said, overall, I’m really happy with how happy she is at the school. She’s really very happy to be there and the daycare owner has been helpful with advice when I’ve asked. For example, it’s difficult to get her to eat. She wants to dance and have fun, instead of eating. The daycare provider suggested we ask her to set the table. Small idea, but genius to me. She loves getting the table ready and even if she puts 3 spoons down with a knife and fork, we just roll with it. Yesterday the daycare owner suggested that we serve family style. Another thing I never considered. I or we usually serve ourselves out of the kitchen and everyone sits down with a plate. Mini has been picking off of our plates lately, but not necessarily eating what she picks. She’s curious, though, and I didn’t think of serving family style as a way to encourage that behavior. If she can serve herself, she might be more inclined to eat. I’m definitely dealing with an independent one.
A lovely friend said to pick my battles, which I agree is true. She said she’s taken her kids to home daycare and always expected that the tv would be utilized in some way. As far as I can tell, it’s not much and right now it seems the good outweighs this small sore spot. It’s not even a chronic issue. I guess I just feel like it wasn’t made clear along w/all of the other information she outlined. Perhaps if we’d known in advance we could’ve asked more questions. I can’t say that we would’ve continued to look for another daycare, but at least we would’ve known exactly what we were getting. I also have a concern like…what else is going on that we might object to? And how do we determine whether Mini is learning anything or not? I’d hate to get to next June and feel like the things she learned were more from us than the school. I never know when I’m expecting much more than is humanly possible. We only learn in 10-15 minute blocks anyway. I think they do a good job of keeping the kids moving.
Whether you have kids or don’t have them, feel free to participate in the conversation. What’s your position on tv and toddlers? Do you think it’s ok to have them in preschool & daycare situations? When you’ve looked for a school or if you were going to look for a school, what would be your top priorities?
p.s. I want this Little Humans book for our coffee table. Kids love to see other kids, so Mini will enjoy it. Plus it’s a book, not on a screen! If you’re unfamiliar, check out Humans of New York. This is the kids’ version, in book form.
Christmas gift idea. Just sayin’.
p.p.s. Joe’s Jeans black patent pumps, under $35 on Amazon. Pointy toe. I’d try an 8 over 7.5.