In Summary

Parenting. Every parent is scared by the prospect of leaving their child with strangers. Yet, sometimes their only alternative is enrolling their child in a day care centre. But what are the conditions a day care center must meet to make a parent comfortable enough to trust them with their child? Joan Salmon explores.

Unlike in the past, where parents left their children with maids, nannies, relatives to help in raising them while they were away at their work places, or where women stayed at home to raise their children, today, many are opting for day care centres.

Early education
Many parents prefer these places because they offer a formal, structured environment that is helpful in the children’s early years. Angela Birungi leaves home very early, only to return in the evening. Despite that, she desires that her children learn how to talk eloquently and confidently.
“With a day care, I am certain that I have handed my children to professionals who know how to handle children’s development. Apart from that, I am certain that they will be given child appropriate shows or cartoons rather than channels that only show music videos and soaps which most house helps love watching,” she posits.

Birungi feels secure knowing her children have adult supervision at all times.
“Because this is someone’s investment they take extra care to watch the children unlike at home where a househelp will, without a worry, leave a child and go to do their own business,” she notes. With young children, a responsible child minder is a gem and Wamala is thankful for that in her daughter’s teachers.
“They will update you on your child’s wellbeing. I am not worried if I have taken her to school with medicine because I am certain that the teachers will tell me how she has fared in the day and give her the medicine on time,” she says.
They will also update you on how the child is progressing regarding learning various skills such as singing.

Potty training
Parents are busy and child minders at home are not ready to do what it takes to help children become independent. Diana Wamala is thankful for having taken her daughter to day care.
“When we drop off the children, they free them from diapers so that they learn how to use potties. That was something I found almost impossible to do while at home”. Currently, her daughter can easily tell her when she needs to use the potty.
“I have now put it in a place she can easily see so she goes whenever the need arises,” she adds.

Most children are picky while others are constantly battling bacterial infections. However, Wamala has no more worries since “the school has a well organised meal and snack plan. They, therefore, give them a balanced diet and encourage them to eat. My daughter loves her food and I do not have to force her to eat anymore. Besides that, they are hygienic so we do not deal with bacterial infections at all”.
The teachers are also patient with them, listening to them for even the smallest detail.

Having a religious foundation is key for most parents and Shaleen Nalubwama is not different.
“I love my daughter’s day care centre because it is based on a Christian foundation. That is very important for me,” Nalubwama says. Their environment is so infused with Christian values that children find hard to resist.
“There are times when I pick my children up and they refuse to leave. That is sign enough that they love and are loved by those I leave them with,” she says.

Most day care centres close with the school term, but not so for the day care Nalubwama takes her daughter to.
“They are open all year round, only taking a break during Christmas break which makes them reliable,” she says.

A day care centre should not cost a parent an arm and a leg. Lillian Mugenyi, chose her daughter’s school because apart from being inexpensive, it is possible to draw a payment plan between the parent and the director to avoid inconveniencing either party. While learning may not be the major objective here, Mugenyi is thankful that her child’s day care is not crowded.