the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Daycares as Babysitting Facilities: Is This a Bad Thing?

So the other day I was talking to another parent, and he was complaining that daycare centers are just big babysitting facilities and that they usually don't do enough educational activities. In his opinion, even our local Montessori school isn't school-y enough. Evidently, he doesn't think that coloring, music, and other structured activities offered in most daycare centers teach kids anything.

My reaction: so what? My kid is 19 months old. All he really needs is a babysitter. I don't think he would benefit from formal educational instruction. Babies and toddlers learn through playing. They don't need to be stuck in a formal classroom, a la that crazy preschool in Daddy Daycare. As long as Max's teachers spend a little one-on-one time with each kid, make an effort to name things for them to help them pick up new words, and mediate interactions between the kids, I'm happy. Well, and you know, as long the teachers change their diapers and feed them and stuff.

The daycare class that Max started last month introduced him to his first real structured, classroom-y activities (each lasting 15 minutes or less). Meaning that in the mornings they have "lessons" (i.e., the teachers do a little puppet show demonstrating basic morals like sharing, etc.or they sing songs), and in the afternoon they have art (i.e., they color pictures, using one color each day). They also have reading time before lunch, where the teachers read books to the kids. Call me crazy, but I don't think my 1 1/2 year old needs more formal instruction than that.

In the classes for older kids, they gradually add a few more structured, educational activities. For example, the 2 year olds (or maybe the 2 1/2 year olds) get to use glue! And you know, they talk about a new letter every week in addition to a color. Their art projects focus on a new letter each week. In the preschool classes (3 year olds and 4 year olds), they even go so far as to teach the kids what starts with those letters and what sounds the letters make! Actually, they might try to do that in the 2 an 2 1/2 year old classes, too. I'm sure that somewhere in there they do shapes and numbers, too. I've only been on this side of the building for a month (Max's previous three rooms were on the other side of the building).

Also, the 2 year olds start potty training. If that's not quality toddler education, I don't know what is.

The point: people expect a lot out of kids these days. But let's not forget they're kids, for crying out loud. Five years old is young enough for formal classroom schooling. So let's let toddlers be toddlers. And preschoolers be preschoolers.

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