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Day care teachers want parents to know: 'We're educators!'

photos courtesy of The Pe-School at Temple Emanuel, Chery Hill, NJ

Delaware Valley child care teachers want parents to know that they provide education, not just playtime.

We asked a sampling of day care directors and teachers what they’d most like parents to know. In addition to recognizing day cares’ educational role, teachers wish some parents would encourage their toddlers to be more independent.

Learning

The teachers say some parents believe that they are sitters whose job is to watch children, feed them snacks, read them stories and make sure that they don’t get into trouble. “I wish parents knew — and this is not all parents — that we are not just babysitting their child,” says Amy Handwerk, a teacher at Little Darlings Childcare Center in Mount Laurel, NJ.

“We are teachers with credentials and degrees. We develop and implement lesson plans that set the foundation for your child’s education,” says Katie Cheadle, a PreK teacher and early childhood administrator for Grow & Learn Child Care Center in Middletown, DE.

Children don’t just play all day in child care, says Felice C. Parker, owner of Kidspark in Willow Grove, PA. They also learn skills that will help them in later years, “the small things like sharing or playing in a group are skills learned in day care, skills children need before they begin elementary school,” she says.

Socialization

“One of the primary goals for day care is socialization,” points out Shelley Silber, an early childhood education specialist at Tutor Time Child Care/ Learning Center of Newark, DE.

Teachers introduce kids to skills such as sharing, taking turns and listening to directions. Children become familiar with cultures, traditions, abilities and ages that differ from their own. Day cares teach children “how to be friends and have social skills… but also coping skills and transitions skills,” says Handwerk. Fun and games take place alongside learning.

Independence

Early education centers nurture independence in their students. Marie Lambert, pre-kindergarten program director for House at Pooh Corner/Child’s Conceptions in Philadelphia, believes that “kids are capable and competent!”  Still, some parents do nearly everything for their little ones.

Teachers want parents to give their children a degree of independence. If a teacher has to help all the kids in her class to put on their coats, there’s less time for learning. 

Dedicated professionals

Child care teachers want parents to recognize that they are dedicated professionals. “We buy supplies for our classes on the weekends, spend nights cutting out pictures to bring in the next day,” explains Lyn Harley, director of Early Childhood Education at The Pre-School at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, NJ. Serious prep work goes into teaching at a child care center.

Love and care

Despite the hard work and long hours, the teachers love what they do. “We take care of these children, not only because it is our job, but because we love and care for them as we would our own children,” says Handwerk.

Tasia Jones is a MetroKids intern and communications student at Drexel University.

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