Your children can spend anywhere from a few hours with their day care teachers to more than 40 a week, but we usually don’t get more than a few minutes of face time with the parents. Why does someone so invested in your child’s future have so little interaction with you? Usually because by 6 p.m., we’re all in a hurry to get home and curl up on the couch with a blanket and an internet connection. Here’s what your child’s day care teachers would say to you if they had the time—and the guts—to do it.
1. We love it when you ask how your kid’s day went.
I don’t mean this sarcastically. Some parents come in on their cell phones without a glance in our directions. Some don’t even seem to remember the names of the people they’ve entrusted with the lives of their children. An open dialogue about how your kids are doing behaviorally and emotionally is important to making sure you’re aware of any problems they’re having and how we’re trying to solve those problems.
2. Your kid will always love you more than us.
Yes, they hug us and tell us they want to come over to our houses for playdates, but what you don’t get to hear is what they say about you from the moment you drop them off to the moment you pick them up. “When are Mommy and Daddy going to be here?” “My mom likes yellow,” “My dad wears big shoes,” “We watch Paw Patrol together,” and so on. It’s normal to worry about spending too much time away from them, but in case you haven’t noticed, children are a stubborn species. Nothing we do will ever persuade them that Mom and Dad aren’t the coolest people in the universe.
3. We don’t catch everything.
Kids are rough. Even when they’re not hitting and scratching and biting each other on purpose, they’re falling and bumping into things and tripping on flat surfaces because they have about as much coordination as college students on spring break. When a teacher is responsible for 10 kids at once, it is sometimes impossible for them to tell you exactly where your child got that mark on the tip of his nose during the course of an eight-hour day. We simply can’t see exactly what is going on during every second. We do everything we can to keep them safe, but unless they cry or complain about getting hurt, we don’t always notice when something happens.
4. You have to work with us.
Most day care classes have a system in place to encourage good behavior. A popular method is to assign the child a color each day to indicate how their behavior was and then allow them to choose a reward like a sticker or sucker for landing on a good color. Believe it or not, some parents ignore the system altogether. They let their children get treats no matter what their behavior was like, or they tell them, “You can have one when we get home.” And we get it—you want to avoid a red-faced screaming fit—but the consequences could be much worse in the long run. By ignoring the teacher’s rules, you’re telling your children that they don’t have to follow them either.
5. All kids have bad days, but it doesn’t mean they’re bad kids.
We have kids in our classes who get in trouble for poor behavior almost every day, which can make it seem like we’ve given up on them. But the truth is, we haven’t written them off. When young children get violent with others, it’s usually because they haven’t learned better ways to solve their problems yet. Part of our job is to teach them how to behave in a social environment, and we completely expect them to have their share of mishaps.
6. Your kid is awesome.
All kids are, in their own crazy and unique ways. They’re hilarious. They provide content for our favorite stories to tell our friends. They are the reason we get up every morning and come to work. We change diapers and wipe down toilet seats and clean up puke, and yet we still manage to laugh more than a few times before we go home because your kid is that cool. Be proud.
We’re here to make your lives easier—really. We know that you have jobs to do and errands to run and moments of complete silence to savor. But taking just a few minutes during drop-off or pickup to talk to the day care teacher could be the difference between being blindsided by behavioral problems and taking care of them before your kids hit preteen-hood (when you’ll have a much scarier set of problems to deal with).