Daycare Homework? Let the Babies Play

When did a daycare curriculum start to resemble a college syllabus? Or better yet, when did daycares start using the word “curriculum”?

We recently switched CeCe to a smaller daycare closer to work, but while on the waiting list I decided to call around just to see what Lexington had to offer in terms of childcare for my infant. The spiels I got over the phone from daycare directors had my head spinning.

I was told about music classes, Spanish hour, monthly newsletters, a rotation of “learning themes” and sensory activities. Some even sent home recommended reading lists so parents could “reinforce what the babies learned that day.” So essentially, homework. For individuals who can’t use a toilet yet.

We were even using those terms at home. “Are you ready for school, CeCe?” “Isn’t Miss Susie a great teacher?”

It’s wonderful that our children are being intellectually engaged, but what about the importance of free play? Our current daycare has my kind of curriculum: Here are the toys. Let’s play. The end.

Babies are absorbing so much through simple play, and the structure of having certain learning themes and designated times for each is just too much for children so young.

Have you ever tried to gain (and keep) the attention of a room full of crawlers? You might as well be herding cats.

Our children will be thrown into a world of structure and schedules soon enough. They will be following directions and sitting still for so much of their childhood in actual school, so why are we rushing this process?

Let them use their imaginations! Free play teaches social skills, independence, reduces stress later in life- the list of benefits goes on!

If my daughter would rather chew on her animal flashcards than memorize them, I am probably going to let her. If she thinks her cereal bowl makes a great hat, I will applaud her creativity.

I think she is learning valuable information either way.