I don't often talk about my real job. I work as a site director in a before and after school enrichment program. Some people call it latch key. I don't. I like to put the emphasis on ENRICHMENT because the children under my care are being enriched in my program.
I only work about 14 hours a week and I only have 7 kids in my program. This could be the cushion job of the century if I wanted it to be, as I never have any boss breathing down my neck, but I don't take advantage of it, and I make my program interesting, educational and fun.
But there are some days when I don't even know why I try and lately, it seems like that thought has been going around in my head a lot.
So, as I vent, I'd like any of you who are reading this and who use a child care provider to take notes.
In my small group of 7 children, I have comforted them, made them laugh, dealt with seizures, fixed boo boos, stopped bloody noses, calmed down hysterical behavior, reinforced good behavior, taught them manners, and listened to their problems. In the last 5 years, I've protected a child from a crazed father, steered children to the toilet before they got sick, rocked them when they have had fevers, sung to them when they were afraid, hugged them when they missed their moms, treated them with candy and prizes just "because" and entertained them when they seemed bored.
The point of this post is that I am more than a baby sitter and yet, I feel so used some days, I don't know if it is even worth it to try to enrich them. I should just throw some crayons on the table and say, "color till your parents get here".
But instead, I have great lessons planned for them daily. This is what we did today.
- Read first chapter of "Little House in the Big Woods"
- Taught them how to sew and we made little curtains and pillows for a little log house that we are decorating, just like "Little House in the Big Woods"
- Taught them about the pioneers, their struggles and daily life activities.
- Made a volcano out of salt, flour and water. We are going to erupt it on Friday.
- Made polymer clay book markers for their teachers.
- Played a game where they tried to find a candy necklace.
- Free Time where they played house and a marble game.
- I also let one little girl be my personal assistant complete with her own clipboard.
The problem that just gets to me is that the parents just don't care what is going on in my program. I have two parents that take the time to look around the room and take notice. They appreciate me and for that I'm thankful. But the rest just don't care.
They fly into the room, yapping on their cell phones. They hurry their child out, barely taking the time to let their child gather their things. I write a monthly newsletter and I can tell only two parents read it because if I ask for a cereal box or a shoe box, the same two parents follow through.
One mom is 4 weeks behind in her tuition, yet, she has beautifully done fake nails, nice hair, (today a brand new purse), she drives a decent car and her kid wears nice clothes. Her cousin usually picks up her child. Her son was in my program for two weeks before she even came in. When she did, I asked her, "How does your son like the program?" Her reply was, "I never even asked him."
OMG, her son had been with me for two weeks and she hadn't even asked him. Amazing.
Today a parent argued with me about her tuition. She wasn't happy with one of our policies. The policy is in her contract that she signed, and I assured her I couldn't do anything about it, as I'm just a simple site director. She stared at me with a stern look on her face and I wondered if she thought I would back down and change corporate policy. I finally just started talking to another parent and the mom left. It rattles me to see how quickly a parent can turn on me when it comes to tuition. It happens all of the time. I sometimes just have to pass them off to my boss. She takes care of it and I'm careful to watch my back in the parking lot.
There are also times when someone comes in to pick up a child and I have to ask to see their ID because they've never been in my site before. Maybe it's a grandpa or an Aunt. Women seem to understand this concept and will gladly go and get their ID. But, I've had fathers and step dads argue with me, embarrass me and intimidate me over the simple act of showing me their ID.
One of my bosses had a great idea. She told a parent who fussed over showing their Id that she would need a letter stating the parent didn't care who came to get their child and that their child could leave with anyone. That changed that parent's mind. Our mission is to protect the kids in our care. I don't get a power surge from asking to see ID.
I know that all jobs have negative aspects to them. I accept this and will continue to do a good job because I want to and it would be boring for me to have a dull program. I know there are a lot of bad child care providers out there, but I'm not one of them.
So, if you do have a good child care provider, let them know it. Take the time to look at the program, glance at the newsletter, admire a picture or a craft. Don't throw you child's work in the garbage can in the hallway. I personally don't care what you do with the artwork we just did, but your child is devastated. Take it home, hang it on the fridge for a day or two and let it work its way to the garbage can.
When you come into a program to pick up your child after a long day, great them with a hug and a smile. Turn the dang cell phone off unless you are a Dr. or there's an emergency. Your child misses you and wants to talk to you, share their experiences with you and hear about your day. Don't yell at them if they are cleaning up their games or dolls. They are being responsible by doing so. You are being irresponsible by having such poor time management skills that you only have 5 minutes to get to your yoga class.
When it comes to paying your tuition, pay it. You pay the rest of your bills, right. Pay your tuition.
Child care provider are a really big influence on children's lives whether their parents want to accept it or not. (Do you know how many times a day I'm called Mom?)
Luckily for my parents, I am intelligent, have good grammar, don't talk in slang, am not on a power trip and genuinely love their children. I treat my parents with respect and want them to do the same in return. I'm taking care of their children, not their pets. If it weren't for the parents out there who do care and for the children whom I care for, I would have quit this job along time ago.
On a creative note,,here's a topper I made for a customer. Kind of cute!