Should we switch daycares?
August 23, 2012 4:13 AM   Subscribe

After a transition to a new room at daycare, our ratios went way up and the teacher seems very overworked. Is it time to switch centers?

My two-year-old daughter has been at our daycare for a little over a year. We absolutely loved her teachers in the infant and toddler classes, although from talking to them outside of school it's clear that there are some management issues. From my casual observations, it seems like the director is a bit of a dictator and is very focused on making money while pleasing the franchise manager. Since we started at her school, only one teacher is still there. However, the school does have a high state rating and all of the details are always well taken care of. Diapers are changed regularly, the food is mostly healthy, kids have some outdoor time, noses are cleaned, etc. In the younger rooms, lots of hugs and snuggles were given out as well.

My daughter recently switched to the two-year-old class and the ratios went up dramatically. We went from ten kids with two teachers to eight kids with one teacher. My daughter is pretty mellow but drop-offs have become really bad. When we pick her up at the end of the day, she is always off by herself while the teacher works. We have no problems with her new teacher, it just seems like she doesn't have the resources she needs in the class. She also doesn't seem as attached as the previous teachers to our daughter, but she's only been in the class a little over a month. Inevitably, when we show up in the morning, they need to shift around ratios between classes because my daughter's arrival puts her class out of ratio.

It turns out that the center that our friends attend and love has an opening. It's further away from our home but her class would have three teachers and twelve kids. The ratio will go up to three teachers for fifteen kids in a few months. It's also known as a really great place that follows the Reggio approach.

I'm reluctant to switch because my daughter has been with her little friends since she was in the baby room. On the other hand, my spidey sense tells me that something is off. Teachers seem unhappy and stressed and my daughter, who is not great at transitions, seems unusually unhappy in the mornings. My husband feels the same way. What would you do?
posted by JuliaKM to Education (15 answers total)
Spidey Sense for the win. She will make new friends faster than you can say 'new friends'.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:18 AM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

On the other hand, my spidey sense tells me that something is off. Teachers seem unhappy and stressed and my daughter, who is not great at transitions, seems unusually unhappy in the mornings. My husband feels the same way.

Listen to your spidey sense. It's there for a reason.
posted by cooker girl at 4:18 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd give it more time. Every time our oldest changed rooms at daycare, I would spend weeks saying, "I just don't know about this... I'm not sure how I feel about Ms _____." And every time, with time, that feeling went away. Your daughter will adjust (she's two, so expecting her to adjust to a HUGE change in her world like an adult would makes no sense) and so will you. Drop-offs are hard on everyone, including the teacher, so you may not be seeing her at her best. Maybe you can drop in one day at a different time just to see how the rest of the day goes?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:21 AM on August 23, 2012

Best answer: I'm with the spidey sense crew. We switched our kids (at 3 and 4 mths) from one daycare to another under similar circumstances; turnover was very high, teachers were stressed and the directors were more interested in looting the accounts than taking care of the school.

Anecdata follows: We were SUPER stressed about moving them (not so much the infant but definitely the 3 yr old, who'd been with the same crew of kids since she was 16 wks old) but they did great. The 3-yr-old in particular, who is rather neophobic, walked in and OWNED that place. Never any issues AT ALL. I chalk a large part of that up to how the teachers prepped the kids for the new student; they all knew her name, she had her own labeled cot and hook to hang her backpack, and the teachers had this adorable thing where the kids would shove us out the door at dropoff.
posted by tigerjade at 4:28 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm reluctant to switch because my daughter has been with her little friends since she was in the baby room.

She's two. Think about that. Those lifetime friendships of hers are younger than the Obama administration, "Community" and Oklahoma City having a basketball team. She'll survive.
posted by Etrigan at 4:32 AM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

There are state licensing guidelines that dictate the number of kids per adult. Where are you? I worked with 3 yr olds in Florida a few years ago and we were required to have 1 adult for every 6 or 7 kids, I think.
posted by mareli at 5:17 AM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: @mareli: We're in North Carolina. The NC law for the toddler class is 1 teacher:6 kids and 1 teacher:9 kids for two-year-olds. Somehow I don't think that my daughter has magically matured enough to need way less supervision since turning two. From searching around, it seems like a lot of states mandate lower ratios.
posted by JuliaKM at 5:23 AM on August 23, 2012

We were forced to transition our kid out of a franchise-run, large, new, very high turnover daycare that we thought we liked because of a move. The new daycare is smaller, older, associated with a church, and way less flashy. Everyone who works there has been there forever, the ratios are lower, and we all LOVE IT.

I agree that every time we switch rooms I have a few days or weeks of worry, but your concerns are not those kinds of concerns. Poor management, stressed employees, different ratios - that isn't stuff that goes away in a few weeks.

Parent's spidey sense = the right thing for the family, even if it isn't "right", ya know?
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:51 AM on August 23, 2012

Best answer: My wife is a Center Director for a big daycare chain that you have hear of. The Center Director is everything in daycare. A good one will hire good teachers and they'll stick around, within reason. We are talking about a job that often requires a college degree for lead teachers, yet pays at best $12 an hour. A lousy director will have major staff turnover issues.

Also, a daycare that ignores ratios in favor of short term profit will get caught eventually. There is probably a toll free number that you can call anonymously to report the center to the state. A surprise state inspection should at least get them back on track sticking to the ratios. The turnover probably won't change as long at the Director is in place.
posted by COD at 5:54 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

IME, the move to the 2 year old room was huge. The baby room was warm, caring, loving, with small ratios and the 2 year old room was about discipline, socialization, and activity.

It felt really weird, but now, 2 years later, I realize that it prepared my child for the 3 year old room and the social development that a 3 year old needs.

If you don't like the daycare, and the new center isn't that far away (add up how much it will cost you in time every day), change.

But as others have said, those early friendships are nothing.
posted by k8t at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

We ended up switching Toddler L who is 2.5 because of a move. We LOVED our old center - it had a ratio of 2 teachers to 10 kids and they were very attentive. In new state, ratio is a tad higher, but everytime I've picked him up or dropped him off, there have been at least 2 teachers in the room, usually 3.

I was so paranoid about his transition from the old school to the new school because he had been with the same kiddos since he was 7 weeks old. There were a few weeks of "I don't like my new friends". We talked about why he didn't like his new friends, we told him that his new friends really liked him (which they do) and we also mentioned it to his teachers. Now? I went to pick him up the other day, he was laying on his back in the circle rug while a girl dressed in a lion costume was roaring over him. Child was LOVING IT. Didn't want to go home.

I finally realized that I was seriously projecting my own fears of having to make new friends (and I'm 36! I still hate having to make new friends) and that he is so much more adaptable. I also listened to my spidey sense in checking out new places and if the vibe was off, I said no.

I'd say move them. I suspect you will be really happy that you did.
posted by Leezie at 7:29 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hi! Im an ex-day care worker, and I can speak to the issue of ratios. As the child gets older, the student-to-teacher ratio increases. In addition, when children transition into a new room, which will have new routines and new activities, it takes them a few weeks to adjust. If you are concerned about the well being of your child, I suggest you take some time off of work and observe your child in the classroom. Any daycare worth their salt will let you do this. What you'll be looking for is how the teacher controls the class, how he or she engages the students in activity, and how she manages transitions. (Please keep in mind, however, that transitions are difficult, and kids often act out during them.) See how much one-on-one time she gets with your child. And then go talk to the teacher. Ask her what she has observed with your child in terms of her development. Even though she has only been in there a little while, she should have some initial impressions-- even if she just tells you that your child is still getting used to her classroom.
posted by emilynoa at 7:31 AM on August 23, 2012

Call the new centre and see if you can take your daughter for a tour during class time. I am pretty confident this will dissolve your indecision.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:36 AM on August 23, 2012

I'm with Darling Bri. You can't make a decision until you have a choice. Visit the new center and move if you like it better. The worst that will happen is that your kid will have to make another transition.
posted by firstdrop at 7:48 AM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: Well, we decided to switch to the new place after a good visit. I'm still not convinced it was the right decision but we can always go back to our current place. I wish that it wasn't so hard to figure out the right thing to do when it comes to childcare.
posted by JuliaKM at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older How do other cultures deal with diabetes?   |   Help me go wireless. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.