10 Daycare Problems You Need to Recognize
If your children spend a significant amount of time in childcare every week, it is important that you are able to recognize various signs that the daycare has problems.
If I were a super hero, my skill would definitely be being a “super planner.” When I was 6 weeks along with my first child, I started scouting out daycare centers. I had absolutely no clue what I was looking for in a center, no clue about what I amenities I should look for, what I should look for in the teachers, or even the cost. (If this sounds like you, I promise to write you a post of things you should look for in a daycare SOON!)
I was absolutely clueless. All I knew was that I needed to get on the wait list for a daycare because I had to go back to work after my maternity leave.
I was extremely fortunate that after touring 3 childcare facilities, I found one that just felt right. The limited number of Google and Yelp reviews for that center looked good and so that was that; one more thing off my list.
Both of my children attended that facility for several years and we were incredibly happy with everything about it; the teachers, the facilities, the price, and especially the location. Our kids had made great friends in their classrooms and we had started to think of many of the teachers and administrators like family. Some of the teachers had now helped raise both of my babies.
Then one day, I heard something concerning about the next classroom my son would be moving up to and it made me nervous. So nervous, that I started thinking that I might not be able to let him move up to the next classroom. This small problem was like an itch, it bothered me, but I was on the fence about whether we needed to leave our amazing center because of it.
But that little itch got worse, much worse, because it made me start to see a whole host of other problems that I hadn’t noticed before. Within two weeks, I had a pretty big list of daycare problems. It was at that point that I knew I needed to find a new facility.
It might be easy to think that I was just looking for an excuse to leave, and perhaps I was. But overall, I should’ve recognized the red flags at daycare much earlier than I did, so why didn’t I notice them?
Honestly, I think it’s because I got so caught up in my routine, it’s like I had blinders on. Monday through Friday I dropped our kids off and picked them up from the teachers we’d come to know and trust. We weren’t actively looking for problems. I mean to be completely honest, with my crazy kids, when I pick them up, I’m just trying to keep track of them. As soon as my kids started being able to walk, they ran for the door as soon as they’d see me. (The door – not me, lol) Which means that it’s not easy to stand around and casually chat with the teacher about their day. Especially when both of my boys became mobile, keeping track of two kids, while trying to talk to a teacher is darn near impossible. (Note: If you have any tips on how to keep two crazy boys from running away, I’m all ears!)
I don’t want to bore you, but we impulsively changed daycare centers about a month later. The new facility we chose was okay but it had some major problems as well, so we ended up leaving that childcare facility after only 3 months. We have finally settled our kids at yet another daycare recently and I’m hoping that this one will be the last daycare center they attend.
I know that there are a lot of parents who have children in daycare, so I wanted to take the time to share a list of daycare problems that you need to be constantly on the look out for. I’m not saying that if you see one of these things happen that you should pull your child(ren) out of the facility, but if you see these happening over and over again, or several of them happening, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Daycare Problem 1: Unsupportive Teachers
When I go to drop my kids off in the morning, they are transitioning from me being their caretaker to their teacher. Their teacher needs to actively help the child transition to the center. This is particularly true on days where my child is holding on to my leg and begging me not to leave. I simply cannot shake them off my leg and run for the door. If your child’s teacher is not actively engaging with your child during this time, when are they going to?
Daycare Problem 2: Disengaged Teachers
When it comes to daycare teachers, I want them to be engaged, with not only my child, but myself as well.
If I pick up my child at a random time during the day, I want to see the teacher reading to my child or chasing them around the playground. I don’t want to consistently see them sitting on a chair, watching my child play by them self. I don’t mean to say they can’t sit down, or have a little break. (If I had to watch 8 toddlers all day, heck I would need a few minutes every now and then too!) But, it shouldn’t be a common occurrence, especially if I pick up at random times.
Teacher engagement is particularly important during certain activities, like on the playground. If there are sharp drop offs on the playground, the teachers need to be close by because 3 year old’s don’t always understand the repercussions of falling off a 4 foot cliff.
Additionally, *if my child permits,* when I come to pick them up, I want to hear all about their day. I don’t want to simply hear that “They had a good day.” I want details; did they nap, what did they eat, what activities did they do, did my child do anything funny, do they have a diaper rash? Ideally I want a 30-second summary of the past 8 hours my child spent with you.
Daycare Problem 3: High Teacher Turnover
I understand that teachers come and go, but I consider my child’s daycare teacher analogous to an elementary school teacher. It would be unacceptable if your kindergartner had 4 teachers during a school year. In the same way, my baby also needs consistency; they need to see the same teacher every day and keep a consistent routine. I believe this is particularly true with the newborn to 2 year old age group.
Daycare Problem 4: High Number of Temp Workers
Are you seeing a trend here, the quality of teachers is so freaking important in childcare! If you have daycare problem 3, paired with daycare problem 4, then you potentially have a very big problem. Now I know it’s not fair to say that all temporary workers are bad, but from my experience, most can be optimistically described as satisfactory (at best.) The temps have limited (if any) training and don’t always adhere to daycare center rules.
Also, imagine what it feels like to be your child, you are used to seeing the same teacher everyday and then you walk in to find someone you have never seen before in your classroom. The temps don’t know your child, they don’t know the ins and outs of their behavior. They aren’t as familiar with their allergies or the best way to get them to fall asleep at nap time. They aren’t invested in their future, they are simply there for a paycheck. (And a pretty crappy one at that.)
Daycare Problem 5: Unexplained Bumps and Bruises
Upon first mentioning this, I’m sure you’re like HELLO, unexplained bumps and bruises, that’s never acceptable! But for my crazy, rambunctious, brave little boys, bumps and bruises have always been par for the course. Literally, one of my kids had an incident report that said –
“Child went to sit by one of his peers on a pillow on the floor. His peer got upset and pushed him off the pillow. He walked over to the wall and smacked his head angrily against it.”
Now… that’s not really the fault of the daycare worker that my son has a red bump on his head. He did that one on his own.
The problem though is when my kids are getting sent home with bumps and bruises and the teachers don’t tell me that they happened or even know what happened.
I’ve had one of my kids come home with a pretty nasty diaper rash that had to have taken awhile to acquire and his teachers didn’t even mention it. First off, I know that one of my son’s has super sensitive skin and gets diaper rashes incredibly quickly. Therefore, I understand if he comes home with a rash, sometimes it’s just inevitable. But I want to know about it. I want it written on his daily report or at least mentioned during pick up.
Daycare Problem 6: Child Doesn’t Like Going
Depending on the age of your child, if they don’t like going to their daycare, it should be noted. This is particularly true if they initially liked going and then something happened, like a classroom or teacher change, and they’ve consistently said they don’t like going to school anymore. I encourage you to dig deep and see if you can get to the heart of the problem. Are the teachers not being “nice” to them? Did one of their friends leave? If they have loved (or at least liked) going in the past and something has changed, it’s time to start asking some questions.
I do caution you that our little ones can be a little sensitive, so just because your child says they don’t like going this week, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be concerned. This can though confirm your suspicions, if you’ve noticed other problems.
Daycare Problem 7: Learning is Leveling Off
Child behavior isn’t always consistent, but if you notice months have gone by and your child isn’t reaching new milestones, it may be time to question what they are doing during their day. I do not believe my kids have to be rigorously educated during daycare, but I do want them doing age appropriate activities, which should inherently teach them new things. Like a 1-2 year old should be learning new words or colors and start being able to mumble some version of the A, B, Cs.
If months are going by and limited amounts of artwork are coming home, it’s a sign that the teachers may not be engaging my children in the classroom.
Daycare Problem 8: Using Technology (Too Much)
Some child care centers introduce technology at an early age. The earliest I’ve seen it be introduced is around 3 years old. I’m not writing this to debate whether the use of technology at this age is right or wrong, I’m writing this because I know first hand that the over use of technology is very grey.
One of the centers we used, had Smartboards and tablets in the classroom. The problem I noticed with my 3 year old, was that he would come home and point to shows on the Netflix screen that we had never watched and tell me that he wanted to watch “Sid the Science Kid” or “Super Why.” It was only then that I realized he was watching way too much TV in his classroom.
Daycare Problem 9: Consistently Seeing Staff Out of Ratio
After seeing multiple childcare facilities in action, I know that keeping teachers and kids in ratio is no easy task; it’s more like a junior high logic problem. Centers shift teachers and children around to make sure there are enough adults in every room and not too many kids. However, I don’t pay the center the big bucks so that they can move my child from room to room. My kids are used to their environments and teachers, they feel safe and comfortable. I understand that you might sometimes have to move my children around so that you can stay in ratio, but it shouldn’t happen often, definitely not on a daily basis.
And ideally, the building floaters should be the same people, so my kids are used to them.
Daycare Problem 10: Disorganized Admin
It’s definitely not a huge concern of mine, but it’s a concern none the less. If the admin that run the daycare are unorganized, the center is bound to struggle as a whole. I’ve had centers over charge me by literally hundreds of dollars a month and it only got corrected after I asked them about it.
A great administrator will have an open door policy and will want to discuss your concerns with you.
Think it might be time to consider leaving your daycare? Here’s what you should do next.
- Find out how much notice your current daycare center requires. Some centers require a 2-week notice, some 30 days. Clearly if the problems are very serious, money is of no concern and you should leave immediately. However if your center is like the ones we have been at and it’s on a steady decline, a few more days is probably tolerable.
- Before putting in your notice, you need to find another center. Depending on where you live, it may be incredibly hard to find a center with an opening (or multiple openings) corresponding to your child(rens) ages. I would suggest you call around to several centers to ask about their availability and then tour the ones with openings. I will write a post soon to help you find a high-quality daycare.
- If you find another center, then put in your notice to your current center. If you are like me, not having childcare is not an option. I have to work to support our family, so childcare is mandatory.
Hopefully this article was useful and will help you be on the lookout for potential problems at your childcare center. Just like you, my children are invaluable to me and I want to find them to have a great experience at daycare, which means constantly evaluating their school.