There are so many important factors in raising children that it’s sometimes impossible to do them all, let alone do them well. The stakes are even higher when we send our babies out into the world – to daycare, to school, where they are away from our watchful eyes.
We went through a daycare change in the last couple of weeks. My oldest is now attending after-school care at his school, where he will also be attending summer care. They have camps on site (sports, science, arts & Bible school) as well as a number of activities and field trips throughout the summer. I think it will be great for him.
My little one is now attending a preschool, in a daycare center, for full time care. She has attended for a week now and is transitioning very well. She loves being in the Pre-K room with kids her own age – and she’s loving the structure and the curriculum, especially having a job each day (line leader, meteorologist, etc.). I’ve been very impressed with how knowledgeable the staff is about food allergies and how they practice safe food management. Although letting go and trusting them to feed her correctly is challenging, I’ve done my homework — read their ingredient labels, spoken with other food allergy moms there, and am reviewing the menu each week in advance to stay on top of it. Amazingly, the center is already nut and egg free, as there are children with the same allergies there.
Speaking of daycare, if your child is in a daycare setting, I encourage you to keep watch on how many other children are in your provider’s care at the same time (especially if you have an infant). The higher the number, the less time the provider is able to spend on any one child, right? There was a chilling article in the Star Tribune over the weekend called “Overcrowded Daycares: A ‘Recipe for Disaster.” It’s specifically about home daycares in Minnesota – although I’m sure someone else could write an equally frightening article about other violations in daycare centers. But I still think it’s worth sharing… I remember watching the numbers of kids rising at our last daycare, particularly during the summer months when kids were out of school. I would quickly count how many kids there were compared to what the license allowed, posted by the door. Our provider was never in violation of her licensing rules on this front, as far as I could tell, but I remember that feeling of being nervous. It’s up to us as parents to watch to make sure that our daycare providers are following their headcount rules – if you read the article I linked to above, you’ll see there were many examples of providers having way too many children in their care and tragically there also were children who died.
The other thing I’m paying close attention to these days is bathrooms. There was a chapter towards the end of It’s No Accident, the book I reviewed recently, that discussed how school bathrooms are a problem in this country. Specifically, if the bathroom is messy, smelly, or toilets are left unflushed, children who need to use the restroom will hold it… and according to the author, this has disastrous health effects on these kiddos. Holding it can cause severe constipation and/or uterine infections. There are some children who will go an entire day without using the restroom at school because of the poor conditions. This is awful and sad. In some schools, there is also a problem with kids being bullied in bathrooms (people yelling, pounding or throwing things in the stalls while children are trying to use the restroom).
So after learning about this, I’ve started paying closer attention to the restrooms at school, and now preschool. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve done random checks of both the boys and girls bathrooms at school, and I’ve seen mixed results. Sometimes it’s in adequate shape – other times, not so hot. I try to picture myself as a 6 year old needing to use the rest room – no 6 year old is going to flush a gross toilet in order to be able to use it themselves, heck, I wouldn’t do it!
I’ve also been checking the soap, and you know what, sometimes they are empty! The good news is that kids are using soap, the bad news is that if it’s empty, they are walking out with dirty hands - spreading bathroom germs (you know what I mean…), possibly sickness germs (flu, colds), as well as food allergens if they haven’t washed since eating. All three of those place other students at risk and is a serious health issue. I’ve been alerting staff and making it known that I’m paying attention and will keep checking, and asking them to talk with the children about respect and responsibility in the bathroom. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, I encourage you to ask your kids about their bathrooms and do a spot check the next time you are there. You can get resources to help you tackle this issue and examples of what’s worked in other schools from Dr. Keating who developed Project CLEAN.
So those are a couple of parenting topics on my mind this week. Thanks for listening – would love to hear what topics you find yourself caring about lately!
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