Kids are now back in school and getting comfortable with their new schedule. I like having the older kids in my daycare for the summer, but boy am I ready for them to go back to school when fall comes.
Things change while the school-aged kids are here for the summer. They’re in charge of everything, which can be good and can be bad. They're able to initiate the imaginary games that are so important for kids to play. They can start a game of "house" or maybe become zookeepers or school teachers. They can keep the younger kids entertained for me while I get one of my chores done. But what happens to the kids left behind when the older kids go back to school.
As a mother or a daycare provider, did you notice a transition time when kids returned to school and you’re now caring for just preschoolers and/or toddlers during the day?
I, personally, had a couple of really stressful weeks. I’m an experienced daycare provider and run a tight ship. The kids know what is expected of them and they know what the consequences will be if they don’t live up to those expectations. But I could not get this group of kids under control. They were constantly running, yelling, wrestling and every else that has always been against my rules.
It took me two weeks to realize why I couldn’t get the kids to listen and behave like they normally did. But what I finally realized was that the oldest kids now left in daycare were not used to being the oldest kids. They were not used to being in charge. They did not know enough to start those imagination games I spoke of earlier. They did not know that they were responsible for being role models for the younger kids who are still learning all the rules of the house.
Once I was able to figure this out, I shared it with the kids. The two oldest kids in my daycare are four years old. I sat them down and explained to them that they were now the oldest kids in daycare. I explained to them what their responsibilities were now. They were now in charge of deciding what game would be played when I didn’t have an activity going on. They needed to show the kids how to share and use manners. They needed to be role models at clean-up time so the other kids learned their role. The most important thing, I told them, is that you’ve been here long enough to know all the rules and you need to follow all the rules so that the younger kids will learn to follow all the rules.
It worked like a charm. Things changed faster than I expected them to. Within the same week of me sitting the two oldest kids down, I noticed a sense of peace settling over my daycare. It was becoming the old daycare I was used to. And what I learned…sometimes you just have to verbalize to kids what you expect of them!
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