35 hours in school vs. in daycare

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
35 hours in school vs. in daycare
188
Fri, 02-06-2009 - 2:03pm

I was trying to think why I've been having such a hard time with the idea of going to work full-time in the fall and yet I don't have any problem with my kids going to school for the same amount of time when they are school age. I know that we've asked the question a lot "Why is it okay to put them in school for 35 hours but not in daycare for 35 hours?"

My toddler doesn't understand WHY Mommy is gone. He doesn't appreciate the difference between Mommy going to work and Mommy just disappearing all day. A 5-year old does. I think that until they are old enough to truly understand the purpose and necessity of the separation, those 35 hours are going to be experienced very differently.

Discuss.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2008
Fri, 02-06-2009 - 9:09pm

From very clear memory (though my children are very much older), separation anxiety at 13-15mon for all my children was extreme. Dh and I couldn't go to the bathroom without tears and sobbing "don't leave me" while pounding on the bathroom door, that was with the other parent being present. Somewhere around 16months old, that extreme reaction no longer occurred. My young toddlers needed a secure repeatable routine more than they mom and dad. In fact, vacation time always disrupted the routine and often it was not pleasurable with toddlers.

It's better now, ski vacation a week from Monday, black diamond here we come - wahoo.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Fri, 02-06-2009 - 11:32pm

For Dylan, it was the same, in that he was with the same kids and teacher every day. He hated park days (and by extension, he would have hated MDO as well) because the kids and adults changed every time he went. In both dc and school, he knew what to expect when.

Chris

The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2002
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 1:54am

How a child is affected by being away 35 hours per week depends far more on the individual child and situation in which they find themselves for those 35 hours than on age. Ds (at age 2) loved his daycare and was never exhausted, frustrated, unhappy or distressed when he was there or when I picked him up (admittedly, he was there for only 25 hours per week, rather than 35, but it's pretty close). Ds often comes home from school feeling all of those things and more and complains about how much time he has to spend at school (he's 13 now). He'd far rather be home.

At this point, I'm not really sure what sort of information you are looking for. I'm getting the feeling that you want people to tell you that it is absolutely going to be hard on your toddler to switch to 35 hours per week and that he will somehow suffer by this. The problem for me is that I just didn't have that experience with my children, nor did I ever see a problem for other kids who started between the ages of 1-2. As I said in another post, this is the standard age at which Swedish kids start dc (usually 25-30 hours per week working up to about 35 hours per week). The kids always adjusted well and, as far as I could tell, had a very good time in dc.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2006
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 3:34am
:::shrug::: Depends on the kid.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 8:35am

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Nope, not saying that it will be hard on every toddler or that they will suffer, just that 35 hours in daycare is NOT the same as 35 hours in school because the age difference inherently leads them to understand the experience differently, so the whole "Well if you plan to send them to school then isn't it the same as sending them to daycare?" type of retort when a parent strongly prefers to save that experience until the child is older doesn't really hold.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2002
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 9:06am

"Nope, not saying that it will be hard on every toddler or that they will suffer, just that 35 hours in daycare is NOT the same as 35 hours in school because the age difference inherently leads them to understand the experience differently, so the whole "Well if you plan to send them to school then isn't it the same as sending them to daycare?" type of retort when a parent strongly prefers to save that experience until the child is older doesn't really hold."

I understand what you are thinking here, but the reality is that how a child (be it toddler or teen) experiences time in daycare or school vastly depends on that child's individual personality and the environment in which he/she is placed. Dd at 2-3 would complain "are you here already?" if I picked her up right when she was in the middle of something particularly fun. For her, the day flew by and I arrived too early. She still (at age 10) has a highly flexible sense of time: if I pick her up right when she is in the middle of something, I must have picked her up earlier than usual (not the case), if I pick her up after a particularly boring day she wants to know why I picked her up so late (same time as usual). Yes, she is perfectly capable of reading a clock, but she often expresses how she feels before she thinks logically about time. Ds (13) thinks school days are interminably long and wishes they were shorter. He didn't think that about dc when he spent nearly the same amount of time there when he was 2-3 yo.

Besides the obvious educational component, why do you consider sending a kid to dc to be very different from sending him/her to school? Why is 5 a good time to start, but not 4 or 3 or 2?

I understand your concern as your son does not currently seem happy with the 2x per week at MDO. I really do think that consistency may be the biggest issue in this case. 1x per week at the gym dc never worked for dd at that age. It was too long of a stretch in between, which meant she couldn't get comfortable there. 5x per week was a highly predictable schedule that she could relax into.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 1:11pm

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I think that separation from the primary caregiver is something whose developmental appropriateness increases with age. It is desirable to ultimately become independent, but I don't think it is meant (biologically) to be rushed. School begins at 5 because most children have begun to develop logical reasoning skills by that age. Given no social constraints, children will wean at roughly 4 years old. By 5 years old, children understand theory of mind, the idea that people have different thoughts and feelings than our own.
Separation and independence are good, but in developmentally appropriate doses. I can't help but wonder if separation anxiety, though it developed evolutionarily for survival purposes, might still have a purpose today. Though we are excellent at adapting to the alternatives, maybe separation anxiety is a not-so-subtle hint that we are meant to keep separation in small doses in those early years and then gradually increase that separation as they get older (half-day kindergarten, full time school, sleep away camps, going off to college).

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 2:02pm

You have a good point. But as applied to individuals there is a wide divergance as to where to draw the line of separation. With Erica the time for separation came at 6th grade. With Dylan, those 7 hours a day at dc were balanced out by the other 14 hours a day that he was with me. We co-slept and he didn't night wean until past his 2nd birthday. He didn't have his own bedroom until his 4th birthday.

Chris

The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-22-2005
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 2:08pm

<>

Oh yes, of course. There will always be a range due to individual differences.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2002
Sat, 02-07-2009 - 3:11pm

"School begins at 5 because most children have begun to develop logical reasoning skills by that age"

Possibly, but then 5 is a pretty arbitrary age. Swiss and English children start at the age of 4 (even a young 4 if the birthday happens to fall at a certain time of the year). German kids are expected to be ready for preschool by 3 (it is universally offered and for free). So which country has the age right? Note that having a SAHM (specifically mother) is rather the cultural norm than the exception in both Germany and Switzerland. This is why I asked why 5 and not 4 or 3. Do you have any studies that show 5 as the best age for children to start school?

"Given no social constraints, children will wean at roughly 4 years old."

I'm not really sure what this has to do with a discussion about toddlers attending dc and separation issues. It is perfectly possible for a toddler to attend dc and still wean at 4. By the time kids are 1.5-2 years old, nursing is anyway a more occasional thing during the day than an every 2-3 hours thing. Both of my kids weaned well after starting in dc; both of the kids of one of my friends weaned around age 4 despite starting in dc when they were about 4 or 5 months old. The nursing patterns in toddlers/preschoolers is vastly different than that of babies and really does not require the constant or even nearly constant presence of the mother.

"Separation and independence are good, but in developmentally appropriate doses. I can't help but wonder if separation anxiety, though it developed evolutionarily for survival purposes, might still have a purpose today."

Possibly, but again, I'm not sure what this has to do with a child who is older the the usual age for separation anxiety, which, as far as I know, generally runs from around 8 months to 13-15 months. If an individual child has a longer period of separation anxiety than this, clearly it makes sense to take that into account before considering putting that child into dc, but generally kids are over it by about 15 months so I don't see how this is relevant for the average 2, 3 or 4 year old.

"Though we are excellent at adapting to the alternatives, maybe separation anxiety is a not-so-subtle hint that we are meant to keep separation in small doses in those early years and then gradually increase that separation as they get older (half-day kindergarten, full time school, sleep away camps, going off to college)."

Separation from whom, though? Separation from the mother? or is there a fundamental problem with separation from the father as well? If a child spends a significant amount of time around another trusted (from the perspective of the child) adult, would you expect a child to be disturbed by separation from that adult? And, again, where is the age limit for this? My honest opinion is that after getting over the main time of separation anxiety, the biggest factor for a child is consistency. Being dropped off someplace 1-2x per week is not consistent enough for many toddlers/preschoolers. Most children that age (at least that I have observed) cope much better with a 4-5x per week routine (whether it is only a few hours every day or more hours every day).

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