It’s no secret that I adore the Family Day Care we send Nathan to on my work days. It’s a small-scale home-based day care where the carer takes in only a maximum of four kids per day.
I never liked the idea of dumping my kid in a crowd of children at conventional day care centres with typical institutional issues like staff turnover. My own personal experiences with early childhood education as a little girl were far from ideal. I still have vivid memories of being bullied and taunted by other children from the age of 3-4.
Some supporting information from the FDCA factsheet:
The family day care home environment focuses on the connection to the natural world and the interconnection between people, places, animals and the community. Homes are places to explore, interact, discuss, express, involve, relax, connect, engage and be safe.
Current early year’s brain research confirms that the single most important element in stimulating a child’s learning is strong relationships with significant adults – family day care’s small group care enables children to build those bonds that are so critical to their early learning and social development.
I love the fact that Nathan is being looked after in a very close knit setting, where he can get plenty of one-on-one attention from the carer, who absolutely adores him (I’ve seen her pick him up and cuddle and kiss him affectionately). I know he likes her too as he can already say her name and he repeats it excitedly whenever I announce that we are going to her house.
And because it’s a small group, he is learning to develop real friendships with the other children there… at just one and a half years old, he can already tell me the names of a couple of his favourite friends in the group.
It might take some trial and error to find a carer you are comfortable with, but once you find the right one, you’ll be singing their praises all the time.
Our carer is extremely diligent with doing plenty of projects and craft activities with the children. More so, I think, than many conventional day care centres.
Almost every week, Nathan will come home with a piece of art to add to his portfolio.
This is a colour matching exercise they did with feathers.
After this activity, Nathan was able, for the first time, to point out the colour ‘blue’ – an example of the sort of ground-breaking stuff he’s learning all the time there.
Our carer also came up with a lentil craft activity for the kids to practice their fine motor skills…
“We did craft with lentils, Nathan tried to pick up every single piece and put it in the circle, he successfully picked up almost all without help”
Another time for fun, she got the kids to make their own set of thongs from cardboard.
Nathan was too young to make them himself but the other kids eagerly pitched in to help trace his little feet and decorate the mini thongs for him.
A recent big project they did was to do their own family tree.
She emailed all the parents in advanced to ask for photos and the mother tongue terms for each family member.
Here are her notes on the activity she sent to the parents afterwards:
It was really interesting for me to see the family photos and specially the feeling of pride of being valued and connected that I observed in each child while making their family tree and showing it to their friends.
I really appreciate your cooperation for helping me to build their self esteem”
She also sends us photos of Nathan at day care which I really appreciate. Instead of a blank of the days I send him in, the photos give me visual insight on what he gets up to when he’s with her and the other kids there…
And the personal relationship extends beyond just the hours at day care.
Here’s an e-card she sent during the time Nathan was recovering from his major lip-laceration accident:
We miss you, get well soon
and HAPPY EASTER
With best wishes and love
from all your friends”
And the food… oh my! Nothing beats home-cooked food, and it helps that our carer’s husband happens to be a head chef at a prominent Indian restaurant in Fremantle. Some of the items on the menu Nathan had the privilege of enjoying include:
- Cottage cheese stuffed pratha with red kidney beans curry
- Moong dhal with carrots and rice
- Lentil and corn stew with fresh yoghurt
- Spinach, cottage cheese and potato patties
- Chickpea curry with chapatti
Our Family Day Care really is another home-away-from-home for Nathan. And with a great carer like ours not only makes it easier to part from Nathan for the day whenever I go to work, but it’s really a day to look forward to where Nathan can play with his friends and do lots of fun activities.
So if you ask me what child care options I would recommend, you know what my answer is.
More information on Family Day Care in Australia: