The Dangers of Daycare
Homeschooling’s Not as Costly as It Seems
In your first year or two of parenting, you might get a sense that sending your child to daycare is as mandatory as sending them to school. Even if it creeps you out—or you think your child isn’t ready to spend so much time away from you—it’s easy to give into the pressure. Let me be the first to tell you, though, it’s not mandatory (neither is sending your kid to school, in fact), and you’re well within your rights to be nervous about daycare.
Even When It’s not a Disaster, Daycare Isn’t Perfect
If you’re considering sending your child to daycare, you’ve probably heard some pretty intimidating stories. These can range from laments about the everyday misery of children stuck in a big building full of strangers for hours to some truly horrifying anecdotes about kids left out in the freezing cold for hours, daycare workers refusing to change diapers, and owners drugging kids to facilitate naptime.
These are freak occurrences, obviously, but even on a systematic scale there are some troubling things about child care. In a very measured, well-balanced article on the subject, Slate’s Melinda Wenner Moyer points out that many studies have linked child care to persistent behavioral problems, some of them lingering well into adolescence. Daycare is linked to poor academic habits, disobedience, and impulsiveness as late as age 15. Some researchers maintain that sending kids to daycare can make it harder for mothers to care for their children—and this is at a critical time in child development, between the ages of 0 and 5, when it’s most important to form parent-child bonds. One study has even found that children experience the same sense of abandonment when they’re in daycare for more than 20 hours a week as they do when they’ve truly been abandoned. Not even excellent care heads those problems off.
It’s hard to establish causal relationships in complex data sets like this, and daycare works perfectly well for a lot of kids when it’s high in quality. But it’s hard to guarantee that, and if you follow the links I posted above and your gut tells you daycare is not right for you, there is an alternative.
If your gut tells you daycare is not right for you, there is an [email protected] Click to tweet
You Can Make Homeschooling Work for You
Homeschooling is a great alternative to outside daycare, and it’s an option you should consider even if you don’t think you can afford it. Keeping your kids out of daycare and closer to you, whether it’s through high school or just until kindergarten, can give your kids a chance to bond more closely with you, help them navigate interpersonal relationships, and ensure that they have a solid educational foundation.
The obvious objection to all of this is that it’s expensive. How are you supposed to stay home with your children without cutting your family’s income in half? And it’s true that homeschooling often means taking a hit on your income—but consider the expense that childcare represents. In some places, daycare is more expensive than college tuition, and even where it’s not it represents a significant cut taken out of your family’s pocket. Couple that with the cost of commuting to and from your daycare provider for two years and you might find yourself with something not unlike a year’s income.
The point here is that homeschooling your child instead of sending them to daycare is more affordable than you think. If you’re willing to let one parent stay at home, and you have the wherewithal to cut expenses—cheaper groceries, less driving—the costs will even out. It might sound frustrating, but keep in mind that what matters is what’s best for your child. If daycare makes you viscerally uncomfortable, do what you need to keep your child out of it. It’s not as difficult as you think.
photo credit: USAG-Humphreys <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6164994929″>Kids on Site, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, USAG-Humphreys, 19 Sept. 2011</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: K.Logan.Sullivan <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27190010564″>Measuring heartbeats</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>