I’ve been asked if I would let a daycare child play in the front and around the neighborhood (when my children’s friends ask if they can go outside) because a parent might not want her child to sit in the house after school. Parents are nice enough in these requests, and I understand that you want your child to have more social interaction. However, there are several things daycare providers must consider each time a child is in care that daycare parents do not face.
- My children – I am glad that your children like my children and that they get along. However, my children are not employed here. The agreement is that “I” would be responsible for watching your children – not my children. My kids spend upwards of 8 hours a day or more in my daycare. Many times, if I work evenings and weekends, they are here during those times also. They like playing with my clients.Since they are in here 95% of the time, I will allow them to go outside and play when their friends ask. It is not fair to expect me to force my children to stay inside the house to amuse your children or to make them and their friends play with your child until you pick them up. My children deserve to have the same right to choose if they’d like to play with their friends or not the same way you give that choice to your children. They should not have to feel guilted into staying in the house because your children are here.
- Playing outside in my fenced backyard is not the same as playing in the unfenced front yard and around the neighborhood. While your child is in care, I am responsible for him from the time he is dropped off until the time he is picked up. That means that I am held to specific rules that usually include playing inside a fenced area. If your child decides to dart into the street or play four-square in the street, I have to answer to the state for any accidents that occur.
- Your child must be within sight and within hearing distance at all times. That means that if the kids decide to play hide-and-seek over a block’s distance, I have to go with your child so I know what’s happening and that she’s safe. Nothing personal, but I’m not about to go hide behind a dumpster or climb under a bush to play with your child.
- I cannot regulate what is said or done by children not in my care. While there may be a chance that an argument or hurt feelings may occur when my children play outdoors, I am already aware of what the risks are. If something happens that involves your child’s hurt feelings or another altercation, the first person you’re going to have a complaint with is “me” even though you insist that I let your child play in the neighborhood. That means I am also considering your child’s personality and temperament and the likelihood of an incident arising based on what I’ve observed from my neighbors. It’s much easier to eliminate the possibility of a problem before it ever occurs.
- I can’t force my neighbor to open her home to your child just because my child may have been invited to play inside. Again, I’d have to go with your child to monitor her, and I have things I need to do early evening (such as prepare dinner for your child).
- Many times, if a child care provider is seen outside with children, parents tend to assume the provider will be responsible for all the children outside. I cannot take on the responsibility for monitoring the entire neighborhood. I believe in neighborhood involvement, but I do not want to give the impression that parents do not need to supervise their children just because they see me outside. If we make plans to play in a different location, then that is different. However, I will not be altering plans at the drop of a dime because the neighbor’s child is ready to play or wants us outside from 3:30 – 6:00 five days a week.
- I have to consider everyone. If I have an infant that is sleeping, but your child wishes to be outside playing tag, I have to decide where everyone will be. I must bundle up the baby and hope he doesn’t wake up before he’s ready, or I must keep your child inside because I must have everyone within view. If she wants to play in the fenced back yard, I can observe everyone and go between rooms, go outside, and look through the window. I can’t do that when your child wants to play in an area that is unfenced or by a parking lot/residential street.
If you choose a daycare based on the ages of the daycare provider’s children, please understand that there will be times when those children will want to play away from daycare. They will ask to play with their friends, will go to their friends’ homes, and will want time to themselves in their own rooms so they can have privacy. Providers’ children often have to share most of their toys, share their living space, and share their moms. They are entitled to some times when they do not have to be at their moms’ jobs or feel like they have to work. Please respect their feelings, understand our positions, and explain to your children. We will try to accommodate as best we can, but we do have limitations on how much we can do while still providing the services we stated to you.