Full time childcare for a toddler
July 20, 2008 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some advice on full time preschool/child care for a 2+ year old.

First off, a little background:
I'm in the midst of trying to sort out a new childcare situation for our daughter (2 years, 3 mo currently).

Unfortunately, my wife and I work full time without a ton of flexibility. We need help from 8:30ish to 6:00ish every weekday. We are working on each taking one afternoon off, which may help a little.

Our daughter has had a full time babysitter. She's been great, and all has been well. That said, the kid has gotten increasingly social and we think she could really benefit from starting preschool in the fall.

Complicating factor: we're in the midst of moving to a new town. So we are losing our great babysitter and we don't have a lot of time to figure this all out.

Now, my questions:
-Only a fraction (1/3rd maybe?) of the preschools we've found offer full time care. Most of them are a few days a week or mornings only. Worse, all the blogs and message board threads I read seem to discuss people sending their toddlers part time. This gives me pause, do they avoid full time because it's a bad idea? Are we setting our daughter up for an overly stressful situation?

-If not, what is our other option? Hiring a new part time babysitter, and having that person pick them up after preschool? This sounds complicated and potentially expensive, but we'll figure it out if that is the better way to go.

I'd appreciate any advice from other parents who have looking into full time care for this age group. Links or book recommendations which discuss the topic would be great as well.

Thanks in advance!
posted by malphigian to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Only a fraction (1/3rd maybe?) of the preschools we've found offer full time care.... This gives me pause, do they avoid full time because it's a bad idea?

If it makes you feel any better: I've run into the opposite situation here. I want part time preschool for my two-year-old daughter, and most of the preschools and daycares around here are full time. I don't think you should read much into it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2008

I don't know if this part of the problem but where I live, what you need is usually called a day care center, not a preschool.
posted by metahawk at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2008

Is she potty-trained? Most preschools do not take diapered/ pull up kids.
posted by beachhead2 at 2:00 PM on July 20, 2008

Around here, our preschool programs start at age 3. Every child that attended was potty trained. It was a pre-requisite. Both of my kids started at age 3 and attended three times a week from 8:30 to 12:30. At age four they attended three days a week from 8:30 -1:30. I think you're going to find that many preschools, and not daycare, hold these kind of hours. If you need something more full-time I think you'll need to look into daycare facilities or go with the preschools that offer full-time care. I think preschools avoid full-time care because they're trying to follow the hours of a regular school day. It's "school", not daycare.

You have to do what you have to do. You both work. In my opinion, taking some afternoons off to pick her up early would be ideal. I can't say if it would be stressful for her or not. I'm the kind of person (wimp, among other reasons) that wouldn't think of putting my two year old in a full time situation from 8:30-6:30 unless I absolutely had to. There has been a recent question on daycare. The consensus is that most kids come out unscathed and daycare can be beneficial.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how much money you have for this, but the Montessori school I work at (for example) offers a program for 18 months - 3 year olds that can start around 8am ("before care") and run until 6pm (with 3pm - 6pm being "after care", and an extra cost). You might want to check out Montessori schools in your area. The American Montessori Society website has a list of accredited schools. If you go this route, and want a true Montessori experience you want an accredited school - the name "Montessori" isn't copyrighted, so anyone can use it.
posted by booksherpa at 2:13 PM on July 20, 2008

Yes, what you want is daycare. My 2.5 year old goes to full time daycare, and the school calls his class "early preschool." Daycares differ in whether they offer part time options or not. For example, my son goes 4 days but we have to pay for 5. If he only went 3 days, we'd get a discount. Other centers around here have full time ONLY, or per day prices. We went with our center for reasons other than price.
posted by peep at 2:36 PM on July 20, 2008

Check into something like La Petite Academy, The Goddard School, Primrose School, Kindercare,etc. They are franchised daycares that do have somewhat of a preschool curriculum.

Also, some private Montessori schools also take the little ones.
posted by Ostara at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2008

What about looking to find a home daycare? You can find one with anywhere from 1-5+ other kids to play with and a daycare provider who does music, art, crafts, and preschool/school readiness activities. Added bonus: they should work WITH you to potty train and not make in a prereq. for attending. The hours you need care seem pretty standard for this kind of care.
posted by Abbril at 3:38 PM on July 20, 2008

Thanks for the advice all. I do seem to have a terminology problem here, I think I was thrown off by the fact that where we live now there are a lot of daycare centers for 2 year olds that call themselves preschools.

That should certainly help in my search, and it makes me feel a little bit better about putting her in group care full time. If we do go that route, that is.

beachhead2: She's getting there on the potty training.

booksherpa: Thanks, there is indeed a Montessori school near where we are moving. I'll look into it.
posted by malphigian at 6:17 PM on July 20, 2008

You want daycare, although, if you also want preschool, you should look for a program that includes a couple of hours of preschool or a home daycare that is willing to walk your daughter to preschool and back. (Note that this second option means more changeover in caregivers and that you'll be paying for preschool + daycare.) Around here, the government prevents preschools from running for more than a few hours. I don't know about regulations where you are, but I would suspect you are looking for a daycare, not a f/t preschool.
posted by acoutu at 7:05 PM on July 20, 2008

In a child under four years old, a p/t preschool setting can be a good choice because while the kids are becoming increasingly social, being socialized all day is very overwhelming. I have taught preschool in the past and I currently work as a nanny, and it's been my experience that younger children get very stressed out by being with other kids all day long.

An actual preschool setting, as opposed to day care, will put your child in a much better position to be ready to learn once school comes around. I can tell you from experience that there is a huge difference between a preschool where children are encouraged to learn basic literacy and math skills and a daycare where the emphasis is on crowd control. The Montessori School sounds like a great recommendation.

If p/t preschool is the only option you can find for a child in your kid's age group, then hiring a p/t nanny/babysitter for the rest of the hours that you need care for, while complicated, will probably be the best solution. In my current job, I take the older child in my care (just turning 5) to her preschool and stay with the younger (just turned 2) all day. This situation works out best for the parents and the kids and it certainly is fine with me to drop kids off/pick them up from school.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:37 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

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