When your child is enrolled in a child care program, one of the greatest gifts you can give him is your personal involvement. Here are some ways to have a positive effect on your child’s experience in child care:
- Become involved: Your child will spend a big part of her day at child care. Let her know you think it is a special place for her to learn, grow, and have fun. She will get this message best if you show her by making it a part of your own life, not just a spot to drop off and pick up your child.
- Communicate: Talking is a two-way process. Tell the provider about your child’s needs and listen to the feedback from the provider to be sure she understands and will respond accordingly. Likewise, if the provider tells you about a problem, let her know you understand. Tell her about any changes that may affect your child’s behavior, such as moving, a visit from a relative, or a new friend.
- Discuss concerns: Many times parents want to talk about a problem right away during pickup time. Your provider may find it stressful to talk when there are still other children in her care. Ask her when a good time would be to discuss the problem, either face-to-face or, if that is not possible, by phone.
- Volunteer: If you can volunteer an hour or so during school or child care, you’ll not only be a help to the provider, but also get a better picture of your child’s experience there. Try a simple activity, such as reading during story time or helping with a planned activity. You’ll brighten your child’s day, and you’ll have a memory to cherish together.
- Support: Give support to your child as well as the caregiver by making sure the child is well fed and properly dressed in the morning. If the provider wishes, take an extra set of clothes, a snack, diapers, or any other items she may need. Ask about toy policies and follow them.
- Advocate: In order for child care to improve, society needs to understand the importance of quality care. Family involvement is a way to show your support. Be an advocate for quality child care at your work and in your community. Find out about current issues affecting child care. Write letters to the editor of your local paper and to your political leaders asking for their attention to provider training and other compensation issues.
Did you know there is a law called the Family-School Partnership Act that allows parents to participate in their children’s school or child care activities? The law says if you work for a business with 25 or more employees at the same location, you may take off up to 40 hours each year (up to eight hours in any calendar month) to participate in school or child care activities. The law allows you to use vacation, personal leave, or compensatory time for this purpose.