Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is Daycare Like Prison?

The other day I had to confiscate a "homemade" weapon from an 8 year old.  His shank was fashioned out of maple bark, duck tape, and a small cardboard scrap.  Overall, his efforts were very creative and did earn him some appreciation.  BUT, being the adult, I still had to take away his piece.

Someone asked me if I worked in a prison.  No, I don't work in a prison.  The picture above shows a few of the daycare boys during an outing to the pumpkin patch. They certainly had no qualms about being put behind bars.  I laughed it off- until I thought about how daycare and prison share a lot of similarities. 

I guess that would make me the warden...

Here are just a few observations:

  • I allow certain privileges for good behavior. 
  • I have broken up a brawl once or twice when the children don't get along. 
  • We have come close to a riot once or twice when they didn't want beets for lunch. 
  • I use solitary punishment in the form of timeouts when my "inmates" are a danger to the others. 
  • I serve lunch cafeteria style and they are each responsible for scraping their own plates. 
  • I have a "lights out" time for naps. 
  • I control the television and regulate the hours they get to watch. 
  • We have daily exercise or outside time that is closely monitored by the "warden".
  • Occasionally, I have someone who doesn't respect authority and tries to push the limit.
  • I notice certain "gang" affiliations-  two year olds stick together and so do the four year olds.
  • On occasion I find contraband items in their pockets-  candy, sticks, rocks, etc.
  • Mail time is exciting-  we never know what we will receive in the mail.
  • We look forward to visitors and going home.  We miss our parents!
  • We learn from our mistakes.
I may not be cut out for being a true "warden".  I love to tickle bare toes and giggle at silly knock-knock jokes.  These were written in good fun, but there are also a lot of differences.  Here is some good news:

  • An obvious difference is that we don't sport mandatory orange jumpers. Orange clashes with my red hair and the striped uniforms don't flatter my hips, so I have forgone the dress code. We wear play clothes or dress up in old prom dresses, cowboy hats, and Halloween costumes that express how we feel that day.
  • We sing songs, play games, explore our environments, and create art. 
  • We look forward to rhyming words and counting cheerios. 
  • We play with blocks and cars. 
  • Sandboxes are still magical.
  • We all want to be fire fighters or princesses when we grow up. 
  • Snack time is the best part of the afternoon, especially if cupcakes are involved.
  • Reading books aloud is a fun way to pass the morning.
I could go on and on with my list. 

All these items basically come down to two key ideas:

  • One, structure and consistency are needed in any environment. 

  • Second, nurturing and learning in a safe environment produce amazing educational opportunities.

What do you think?


Leslie said...

Our babies look so tiny in that picture. It took me a while to figure out which one was mine. In fact, I had to click the picture to see it bigger. Crazy...

Plain Graces said...

The kids grow so fast!

JJ said...

I LOVE this post as a home daycare provider I can truly relate. Thanks for stopping by Rural Moms Rock and I'll be back enjoyed the crafts and activites.

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