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Choosing a Daycare and Making the Transition


My mother has taken care of my high need daughter until now.  She is going to be a year old.  I am now having to put her in day care. PLEASE give some advise for this transition...


Here's some of the criteria I would use if I was in your situation.  It applies whether your just beginning your search or have found a few and are narrowing the list or not happy w/ the one you're using.


1) Is she an introvert (recharges her batteries by being alone)? - A small number of other kids and/or a low adult:child ratio with plenty of time and space to recharge her batteries by herself (in relative quiet) is a must or she'll be too overloaded by the end of the day. Home-based rather than group setting.

2) Is she an extrovert (recharges her batteries by being w/ other people)? - She might thrive in any kind of setting as long as she's around enough other kids/people.

3) Is she regular or irregular in her natural schedule (i.e. which approach naturally provides her with a stronger sense of security and consistency)? - If she's one who needs to have a consistent rhythm to her day (e.g. she's happier when she eats, naps, & plays at specific times) then a more structured environment will be a better match. If she's irregular (her natural schedule varies day to day...even w/in a day) then a more flexible routine would be a better match.

4) Is she sensitive to her environment? - Some high-need babies are very sensitive to their environment's lights (flourescents are notorious for bringing out the crankiness in kids and adults), amount of sound (their brain's can't filter out what's important to hear and what can be ignored so they take everything in and then quickly reach overload), etc... If she is, then you'll have to do some detective work to figure out what she's sensitive to and make sure it's not present in the new place.

5) Is she comfortable being cared for by multiple people? - This is one of the trickiest ones. Some kids are really flexible and quickly warm up to and trust adults other than their parents ...others bond very strongly to only a few and are miserable when that person isn't available. This most often becomes an issue when kids are in a commercial daycare (staff turnover, switching from the infant to toddler to preschool rooms, etc...), must less so when they're in a small home-based environment where there's at least one consistent adult.

You can continue this list w/ all of the temperament traits for spirited kids...


1) Discipline (and I don't mean punishment :o)

  • Is it consistent w/ yours?
  • Is their *philosophy* of raising children (which really *is* what they're doing) a good match w/ yours or are they of the "we're the're just the parent" belief? (if so don't walk...RUN!)
  • How do they handle skirmishes between kids? Is it gentle and supportive of them developing social skills or geared toward making the caregiver's job easier?
  • 2) Unstructured Play Time - Is it seen as a very important part of their development (which it is), or merely a free-for-all time that they (the adults) can't control so they limit?

    3) Each Child is Unique

  • If your daughter requires alot of in arms time will they be able to continue that approach or expect her to "grow up" at a pace consistent w/ non-spirited kids?  Spirited kids often develop in an asynchronous way.
  • Potty Training? (some places expect it to be completed on their timetable so that they can keep the kids moving into the next aged room, yet some spirited kids are slower to leave behind diapers. This is especially true of gifted boys).
  • Naps? (some kids continue to regularly nap even at 4yo...if they can't get in a rest/nap time, they're constantly struggling to deal w/ exhaustion - which means their behavior suffers)
  • 4) If there are problems, how will they work WITH you?

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head...

    As for helping your daughter transition...I would strongly recommend taking as much time as you need to help her make the adjustment.  Go w/ her (or your mother could go) for as long as it takes until she feels like this is a place where she's have fun...a place she can trust.  In some cases it takes only a few times, others quite a while...just depends on the child.

    TRUST YOUR GUT and HEART! is the most important piece of transition advice I can give you (or anyone).  If the place doesn't feel right....discuss your concerns w/ the folks in charge and don't be afraid to say "No...this is not the right place for my daughter".  You are the expert on your daughter...not they, no matter how much training/education they have.  More and more children are being born w/ high-need temperaments, but not all caregivers have caught up w/ their skill set.  Our kids are consistently being "thrown out" of day care because they're not willing to go w/ the flow like all of the "normal" (yes, I've actually heard that word used...egads!) kids.

    The way to prevent that kind of disruption in your daughter's life is to make sure it's a good fit for you before she starts and then a good fit for both of you after she starts.

    If you have specifics that I haven't covered, feel free to email back and I'll be happy to help you sort through them!

    Good luck!

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