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Parents Corner

What Daycare Can Teach Your Child

Heather A. O’Connor

While Mom and Dad are working, little ones may be learning some very useful things at childcare:

Give and Take. Nine kids, one Tickle Me Elmo. You do the math. Being in a group setting leaves no other choice but to share. Teachers often introduce the concept of taking turns by giving a child a few minutes to play with a desired toy, then asking her to pass it along to the next person.

Motor Skills. "Day to day exposure to other children who already know hoe to crawl, cruise or walk is a great motivator," says Claire Lerner, a child-development specialist at Zero to Three, A Washington, DC-based organization that focuses on the development of babies and toddlers. "When a six-month-old sees an eight-month-old may imitate a 3 year-old who folds "laundry" while playing house.

Social Savvy. Daycare provides a ready-made opportunity for forming friendships. And a variety of personalities-kids’ and caregivers’-means that children learn to get along with different types of people over the course of a day.

Discipline. The day’s structure-morning snack, story time, naptime, painting, cleanup-can help children learn to follow directions and move from one activity to the next with the rest of the group when it’s time.

Independence. Experts say that kids who learn to separate from Mom and Dad early on generally adjust more smoothly to preschool and kindergarten; they know their parents will always come back for them, says Learner. And they’re used to putting their trust in other caring adults: "My fifteen-month-old son, Dylan, always hugs his sitter goodbye when I pick him up," says Megan Duncan, of Gardner, KS. "It’s nice to know that he loves her too."

EDITOR’S PICKS Books we love that show your child how much fun daycare can be.

Adam’s Daycare

Julie Ovenell-Carter, Illustrated by Ruth Ohi ($6, paperback; $16, hardcover)

Every morning Adam goes to family daycare, where he and his two pals play firefighters, celebrate a birthday, and make crowns.

Will You Come Back for Me?

Ann Tompert; illustrated by Robin Kramer ($6 paperback; $15, hardcover)

Suki, 4, wary of going to a childcare center, dreams that she sends her stuffed animal Lulu to Brown Bear’s School for Teddies. Soon Suki realizes that just as she would never forget her bear, her mom will always return for her.

Day Care Days

Mary Brigid Barrett, illustrated by Patti Beling Murphy ($13)

Playful rhymes describe a family’s weekday routine, from the morning alarm to drop-off at the childcare center to tucking in. Bright illustrations show how sad goodbyes are quickly replaced with painting, story time, and snacks.

Other useful resources

Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots has established the Drew Bledsoe Foundation Parenting With Dignity program. Bledsoe says of his success "my parents helped me the most to be what I am today" and his goal is to help other parents give their children the best possible start. For more information, see http://www.drewbledsoe.com/.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013