Whether you're concerned about snacks, naps or communication, here's how to get what you need
You’ve found a wonderful daycare. The care providers are friendly and knowledgeable, their goals and values match your own, and your child is happily settled in. It’s perfect.
Well, almost perfect. At pickup one day, you see something that gives you pause. Are those Froot Loops in the trail mix? Or maybe their toilet-training techniques aren’t quite in sync with yours. Sometimes it takes a little intervention on your part to make a good daycare situation great. Here are tips on tackling five common concerns.
The good news is that nutrition is a priority in today’s licenced daycares, thanks to government mandates and a societal shift toward healthier eating. Centres are required to provide healthy options and cover the four food groups, with many menus approved by dietitians. If you’re concerned that what looks healthy on paper doesn’t meet your real-life standards, speak to the supervisor and ask to see the recipes. Most centres offer choices, and you can ask that your child skip something, such as juice or a processed food.
Licenced home care providers are required to follow similar regulations as daycare centres, with monitoring by their home care agency. If you have a concern about a snack, say, speak to your provider; the agency can also help you work with the provider to come up with a solution, says Annett Holeschek, manager of daycare operations at the Ontario home care agency Wee Watch.
Unlicenced home care providers are not subject to supervision. While most do a great job, there is typically only one person planning the menu. So if you’re unhappy with the menu, it’s your job to ask for changes.
Some parents are skilled at tactfully approaching touchy topics, while others worry about offending the care provider and end up just letting things go. Holeschek says it’s all about finding the right time and the right words.
“Some people can handle a bit of criticism easily and others might get defensive,” she says. “Book an appointment or ask if it’s OK to pick up your child a little early one day so you can have a few minutes to talk about what your child wants to eat. That way, you have time, and she knows to expect the conversation.”
Holeschek continues: “Start out by explaining what your child likes to eat at home or give suggestions for things you’d like to see on the menu.” If your care provider doesn’t post the menu, tell her it would be great to know what your child is eating during the day so you can better plan meals. “You’re leaving it open, making it conversational,” says Holeschek. “Sometimes, a provider just needs to see where a parent is coming from.”
Ange Schellenberg, who runs a home daycare in Morris, Man., says parents have options — they just have to ask. “I would consider changing something on the menu if a parent didn’t like what I was serving,” she says. “If their suggestion was something that wouldn’t work with the other kids, I’d tell them they’re free to bring a snack for their child that day.”