A while ago you might remember me having some misgivings about childcare. Then things got a little better. Then they got worse again. In the end and after speaking to some lovely members of my family, we were lucky enough to be able to pull Baby out of childcare and make it through to Christmas with my sisters and a couple of aunties pitching in to look after her at our home one day per week while I went to work. I work two days per week. My mum and mother in law look after Baby a day a fortnight each leaving one day a week.
It has been and continues to be a great area of confusion and stress for us, wondering what is the right thing to do and how to make it happen. Some people, including staff at the childcare centre we were at, suggested that we should book in for two days a week as one day alone makes it hard for the children to adjust. I can imagine that going two days a week would make it easier in some ways, but the thought of sending her off to childcare when I didn’t need it for a day or half a day just didn’t seem right.
We started looking at other local childcare centres. We looked into family day care. We looked into getting a nanny and sharing that nanny with friends. None of the options were suitable for one reason or another – the two main reasons being either cost or just a gut feeling! That gut feeling that something just doesn’t quite fit is hard to explain, but it’s pretty much how I guide my entire parenting philosophy (rocket science, right?) so when I feel it heading either way, I tend to go with it.
Then me and the kid were sitting up at our local cafe having a coffee and “baby-nino” one day when I caught eyes with a mum from a natural parenting melbourne playgroup I used to attend. We had a chat and she said she was enrolling her daughter in the brand-new-yet-to-be-opened long daycare centre at the local Montessori School. My ears pricked up. I went home, googled them, rang them up, and booked a tour for the following week.
I was impressed.
The room is beautiful and spacious, the staff are kind and quiet and gentle. I didn’t have to go all Moses trying to part the waters of a fisher price ocean to get through the door. There’s a strong focus on encouraging learning through discovery, following through with an activity independently, packing up after yourself, respecting each other and personal space.
Yesterday we took Baby to Montessori for her first orientation session. At first she clung shyly to our legs and peeked around at the children. After half an hour she started to venture out into the room to investigate. I watched a staff member show Baby how to pour her own cup of water, drink the water, then wash her cup at the little-person sized sink. I watched her being shown how to get a placemat at morning tea time and set it out where she wanted to sit with encouragement from an older child. She timidly got a plate and was directed to the fruit platter where she used the tongs to select some watermelon, avocado and banana. She took it back to the table and ate it. She was watching the other children intently and soon enough toddled back to the platter with her plate and got some more. It might not sound like much, but it was very nice to watch. It was amazing seeing the older toddlers who had been going for a while. The way they selected an activity, were absorbed by it – by that one activity – and then when finished packed things away, washed up after themselves and moved on to something else. There was a lot of staff interaction, modelling and encouragement.
I think it’s a nice place and I think she will experience great things there. It suits her personality so far and I feel comfortable. I hope that my genuine positivity about it reflect in Baby’s experience, rather than my terrible attempt at disguising my reservations last time.
If you’d like to learn more about Montessori, I have found some of the following websites useful:
Hope you’re having a great weekend.