When you are bringing your kids to daycare for the first time, many parents have all kinds of questions. Is it normal for my child to cry? What do they do during the day? What do the teachers do while the kids are napping?
These are all great questions and while we could give you the same responses that you could get anywhere else, we asked our teachers to give you the honest answers to your biggest questions!
About children crying and being upset
Most kids do well at drop off but for those that do have some trouble, we ask parents to make drop-off short and sweet. The longer a parent lingers, the worse the drop-offs get. We assure parents that all kids will be fine once parents leave and they end up finding an activity to do and get on with the day.
It is normal for children to cry or be upset at school from time to time. It is the job of the teacher to console the child and help make them comfortable. I will note it is not always easy to give each child undivided attention when you have a class of 10 three-year-old children with only one teacher.
Check out our blog about how to teach children about managing their emotions or how to deal with toddler tantrums.
About what we do during the day
Beginning of the day
We have to prepare our rooms each morning prior to the children’s arrival. Toys are put out and activities are placed on tables. Teachers are constantly moving in their rooms, cleaning up after kids, reminding them to make good choices, and getting the next activity planned. We, teachers, spend our downtime during nap time to prepare for the next day’s activities/lessons. This is our only downtime for the day and oftentimes it may last only an hour if a child wakes up and needs attention. Our baby room teachers never get downtime unless ALL eight babies are sleeping at once which rarely happens. They are busy feeding, changing, and interacting with kids throughout the day, all while cleaning and sanitizing.
Snacktime and lunchtimeare very busy times for us during the day. We have to sanitize all tables before meals and make sure all kids’ hands are washed. We then have to lay out all lunches for kids and warm up food or cook Easy Mac. We ask parents to bring easy warm-ups that are not too time-consuming. During this time we are passing out drinks, paying attention to allergy lists, and encouraging kids to eat their food. We are wiping up drink spills, opening food items, and trying to keep kids in their seats.
Cleaning up from lunch and then transitioning into nap time right after is also very busy. All while we are assisting children to throw away items, wash hands, use the bathroom and clean up tables, we are setting out sleeping cots and helping children prepare their nap beds, and getting the classroom in order before kids go down for a nap. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also assisting with nap time such as patting kids’ backs to help them fall asleep or just sitting by them to get them settled. This time of day is especially busy for children 2 and younger. They are moving around the room and do not have enough independent skills to assist with preparations for this time of day. We usually have management and extra staff assist in the younger classrooms during this time of day. Older children are able to do some of these tasks on their own to make the nap time transition a bit smoother.
Outside time is broken up by age group. Each age gets 45 minutes of outside time in the am/pm. We are responsible for supervising the children in their class outside. While outside, teachers are wiping runny noses, playing referee, and trying to move around the playground to entertain and look out for children.
Preparing for outside time gets very busy during the winter months. One teacher who can have 8 two and a half-year-olds at one time may have to get ALL the children’s coats on, as well as hats and gloves all while trying to keep them distracted so they don’t get antsy. This is an area where items can get misplaced. Once children come back inside, they are ripping off their outside attire and throwing it on the floor by their cubbies quicker than ever. We try our best to be organized and try to remember who’s gloves are who’s and remember to put items in the right cubbies.
After the children leave for the day and classrooms start to get shut down, staff have to vacuum and mop their room, wipe tables, sanitize items in their room, and re-stock products for the new day.
All in all, teachers do much more than just “babysit” children while at preschool. We are teaching them self-help skills, exposing them to basic academics, helping them deal with their emotions, and keeping an eye on their development. It is a draining job so any appreciation we get from the parents feels amazing and rewarding!
About lost items
We PROMISE we didn’t try to lose your kids’ pacifier or one of their favorite mittens.
Items will get lost at daycare. A sock, blanket, toy brought to school, bottle, pacifier. Items just disappear in our world. We do our best to keep track of ALL items brought from home to the daycare but things get misplaced, parents take wrong items home and other items just vanish. We have many children and items to keep track of which is a big responsibility. A big help to us is if you label your items. Many parents end up getting the same supplies and clothes from stores like Target so it’s not uncommon to have the exact same piece of clothing on 3-4 kids. Labeling them makes our job a little easier in keeping things straight.
Additional things our daycare teachers do
At Cornerstone Academy, our teachers are required to come to work after hours one time per month for a monthly meeting, and we are required to complete 25 hours of continuing education each year. We have to come to work after hours two times per year for parent-teacher conferences. If a teacher brings up a concern about their child such as developmental delay or speech delay, we hope the parents take the time to look into these matters further since we are bringing up these matters to better assist their child.
Preschool teachers often do not get the credit we deserve when we observe a developmental delay. Early childcare is all about early intervention and that often gets overlooked. Parents often think, my child is young and will grow out of the developmental delay until they don’t. A problem we see much too often.
One final note
It is helpful to childcare teachers if you are teaching your child independent skills at home such as dressing themselves, asking for help, and bathroom skills. It is difficult for a teacher to assist ALL kids with putting on coats and guiding kids step by step in the bathroom, so anything that you can teach or reinforce at home would be a HUGE help.
We love our jobs as daycare teachers and we hope hearing a little bit about our world will make your interactions with your child’s daycare teachers a little bit easier! Know that we always want what is best for your child and are working to make it the best experience possible for everyone!