Parents Should Look For Day Care To  Match Home Goals

 Mother arrives to pick up Richard and he promptly kicks Mother  in the shins repeatedly. After excuses are exchanged for Richard's attack on his mother, she quietly takes him home.

Bobby burps at the table. He is ignored by his teachers, who  giggle to one another rather than stopping him. With no adult direction, Bobby teaches all his peers to burp. Bobby's parents are furious.

 A provider explains to a nearly 4-year-old child that reaching into his pants to paint poop on every conceivable surface during the day is a no-no. A provider explains the problem to the mother, and she pulls the child from day care blaming it on the provider.

 In a childcare center, a child spits in a provider's face. She scolds him and tells him not to do that again. She is fired on the spot.

 These are true stories.

 A philosopher friend once said to me, "Parents often allow children to act the way they would like to act and can't." That's a frightening thought. If providers can be lumped in there, the fact that fewer children know how to behave than ever before is relatively easy to understand.

 Look around. The percentage of well behaved children is shrinking to a single digit. Children haven't a clue. They are genuinely surprised when someone corrects what they believe is ordinary and acceptable behavior spitting, kicking, burping and pooping on the toys. Because ordinarily it isn't corrected.

 When formation finally seems out of reach, many parents look for strong childcare. But quite frankly, even in the very best childcare situations, even for 10 hours a day, a good provider can at best only reinforce what's going on in the home; it can't fundamentally change it.

Home always has the greater weight in the formation of the hild. Going from a lax home to a disciplined situation only confuses a child and vice versa. That's why it's so important to mesh what's going on at home with what's going on in childcare. It's a matched set a cooperation between family members and care providers.

Childcare that works is only the ditto of what parents are doing at home.

Formation means separating the intelligence of the child, his ability to think, from his primitive, purely physical nature me-now. Parents who understand formation gravitate toward the kind of childcare that requires that discipline and will choose a place where good manners are not rewarded but expected.

 Tradition, knowledge and experience in the hands of caring adults encourage the kind of foundation that makes sense of the world to the emerging young person. But this is not available everywhere, and parents should not be surprised to learn that the day care job often stops with basic me-now or primary care.

 On the other hand, parents who prefer the "free spirit" approach to childcare, who encourage a child to "choose" and not be "formed" by anyone's ideas but his own will resent any discipline, tradition, knowledge or experience imposed on their child. So places where good manners and good behavior are enforced will be a constant frustration to parents raising Mr. Wild.

 Meshing childcare at home and in day care isn't that hard. It's a matter of communication between the parents and the care providers. Both sides should be up front in discussing what's expected. Reviews should occur often. Parents and providers should always agree on the care of children for the sake of the  children. 

(Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her c/o  The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or  e-mail her at

 Scripps Howard News Service

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