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May 11 parenting - appreciating your provider

May 11, 2001

Show your appreciation to child-care providers

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean


There are evenings when my kids would just as soon hang out at my day-care provider's house than come home with me.

There's a big sandbox, swings, craft materials, books, videos, lots of other kids, and - most importantly - another adult who cares about their well-being.

Her profession is arguably the most important in our nation but one of the least respected.

And yet she does it so well ... day in, day out.

Today is Provider Appreciation Day. Sunday is Mother's Day. These are intended to make us to stop and consider the role providers and parents play in the lives of our children.

Parents aren't the only ones who should tip their hats to the individuals who spend their days wiping runny noses and changing soiled diapers.

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Quality child care is vital to today's society.

Approximately 13 million children in the United States ages 6 and younger are in child care at least part time, according to www.providerappreciation.org. An additional 24 million school-age children are in some form of child care outside of school.

Many of these children are cared for by someone other than their parents eight to 10 hours a day.

That's a significant number of kids, and a substantial amount of time.

A recent study funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that the longer children are in day care, the more likely they are to be overly aggressive.

Despite what made the headlines, the study's results show the differences are not as great as what we've been led to believe, says Megan Shreve, program director of Child Care Information Services of Adams, Franklin and Fulton Counties.

Seventeen percent of children in care for more than 30 hours a week were regarded by teachers, mothers and caregivers as being aggressive toward other children by the time they reached kindergarten. Six percent of children in child care for less than 10 hours a week were regarded as aggressive.

The results of the study made working parents feel even more guilt for leaving their children with a provider, Shreve says.

Regardless of the time spent in child care, a notable finding from the study was how significant a mother's role is in the lives of her children. If a child has a good relationship with his or her mother, that child is less likely to have aggression problems, the study found.

But developing and maintaining that relationship is not easy.

"If you're working eight, nine, 10 hours a day, you're tired. Your children are tired. To keep a quality relationship, it's really tough," Shreve says.

That's why it's important to keep the lines of communication open with your day-care provider and your children.

"Building a relationship with your caregiver is important to building a relationship with your child," says Fanny Crawford, project director for Resources for Children and Families. A healthy parent-caregiver relationship allows both to keep abreast of the child's needs.

Caregivers want to be acknowledged as working people. Just like any other professional, they want respect and courtesy.

But sometimes, be it fatigue left over from the day's events or thoughts of meal preparation, laundry and other duties awaiting us at home, we parents may focus on the negative when picking up our kids.

If our children are safe and happy, we should count our blessings.

"We have parents who say they call 50 caregivers before they find care for a child under 2," Crawford says. "Anytime you find yourself getting short-tempered, you have to remember what it took to find this caregiver. That's what building a relationship is all about."

To make your provider feel special, Shreve and Crawford recommend:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Make your payment on time. Every week.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Drop off and pick up your child when you say you will. Every day.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Praise your provider in front of your child.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Verbalize your appreciation when your provider tells you about your child's day. Say "thank you" often.

Working together, providers and parents shape the attitudes and experiences of their children. Their contributions are recognized on the calendar this weekend. They should be celebrated every day.




Have questions about day care?

Call Resources for Children and Families, 301-733-0000; or Child Care Information Services of Adams, Franklin and Fulton Counties, 1-717-263-6549.

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