What are the advantages of home daycare?
Many home daycares can boast a small group of children, something most centers can't guarantee. According to
the National Association for the Education of Young Children, home daycare providers shouldn't take more than two babies under
30 months, five kids under five, and two additional school-aged children (though they can add more children if they have an
assistant). A smaller group means your child is more likely to get the one-on-one interaction he needs and deserves.
opportunity to play and learn with other children is something both home daycares and centers offer that nanny care can't.
But unlike centers, which tend to group kids by age, home daycares usually have mixed-age groups, which more closely mirrors
most families and may help your child learn to feel comfortable around older kids. "I like the fact that there are other children
my son can play with and learn from," says Cindy Goral, a BabyCenter user from Palo Alto, California. "Since he's an only
child, he really enjoys this social interaction."
Though daycare centers, no matter how child-friendly and welcoming, can
sometimes seem institutional, home daycare can be the next best thing to your own home. If you're lucky enough to find a good
home care provider in your neighborhood, so much the better — your child will feel even more at home.
thing about home childcare is that it's a homey environment, and my children get lots of attention and hugs," says Phyllis
Hodson-Hutsell, a BabyCenter user from Rossville, Indiana. "Plus, our caregiver is located in the same small town where we
live, so she's close by, and my daughters will get to know neighborhood kids whom she'll likely know all her life."
a practical viewpoint, home care also offers a few things centers can't. A home daycare may be more flexible about pickup
and drop-off times and less likely than a center to charge you for every minute you're late. Home daycares also tend to close
for fewer holidays than most centers, so you may not have to scramble for last-minute backup care as often.
home daycare providers are moms themselves, so you know you're leaving your child with someone familiar with the basics of
baby and child care and who probably has a healthy dose of the mothering instinct. Of course, you and your provider may differ
on some childrearing issues, but as long as you find someone with whom you share basic care philosophies, the "mom" factor
can be a definite advantage.
Finding The Right Preschool
Home Daycare vs. Preschool
Q. My 3-year-old goes to a home daycare
while we work, and she's happy there. But I keep wondering whether we should enroll her in a school or a larger center to
give her more of a preschool experience.
A. It really depends on the program, says Amy Flynn, director
of the Family Center at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. "If your child has a loving provider who's committed
to doing age-appropriate activities with the kids, that's probably fine." It's helpful if the program has other preschool-age
children there for your daughter to practice taking turns and sharing with. The home should also have the same kinds of simple
materials -- blocks, costumes, art supplies -- you'd see in a preschool classroom.