It’s nothing short of heartbreaking to see your teary-eyed little one looking out through the nursery window waving his tiny hand as you rush out through the nursery gates. Work commitments and the lack of family support often force many parents to turn to nurseries and childcare providers much earlier than they would like to. But is there a way to remain an active part of your child’s day away from you?
Unlike schools which provide organized platforms such as the PTA for parents to get involved, nurseries and pre-schools have a less formal structure to include parents in the activities of their centre. So, here are a couple of simple, do-able tips to engage better with your child’s childcare providers and stay involved in their adventures away from home.
#1. Put your hand up for volunteering
Many nurseries and pre-schools encourage volunteering by parents and offer opportunities to join the class for story-telling sessions, crafts and games and even welcome parents to accompany the class for day trips and outings. It’s quite a rewarding experience to observe your little one venturing out from the comfort zone you have carved for them at home, muster the courage to explore new boundaries and learn the early rules of social engagement. It is also a great way for you to gain some volunteering experience if you are looking for a career in childcare or teaching.
However, remember you would be required to undertake a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check before you volunteer as you would be working with children. Though it is sometimes at the discretion of the nursery to decide if you would require a DBS check for supervised one-off events such as a reading or craft session, it is mandatory to do the check if you plan to volunteer once a week or more or if your work would involve unsupervised activities which are classified as regulated activity.
The DBS checks can take a minimum of 4 weeks for processing. So, remember to factor that into account before you agree on the dates for your volunteering.
#2. Sign up for parental apps from the nursery… and use it
Many nurseries and childcare providers now offer free parental apps to help you keep track of your children’s day and to share daily diaries, photos and live updates with you. As opposed to web portals, which aren’t often mobile friendly and can take ages to load, parental apps are generally more convenient to use and help you get a quick snapshot of your child’s day even while you are busy at work or out and about.
Some apps allow you to interact with the staff members, comment on your little one’s photos and give you a sense of what your cheeky little monkey is doing away from you. You can access their daily diaries, keep track of their developmental milestones and decide on the adequate support you need to provide from home as they move from one milestone to the next.
Now, once you do download the app, make sure you make the most of all the features available to you as well. For instance, if your child’s nursery sends you a notification for a show-and-tell, and the app you are using has a calendar integration feature, remember to take out a few seconds to add it to your calendar. It will save you from a flood of tears and drama that will come flying your way if a busy day ahead makes you forget to pop ol’ Lightning Mc Queen in his bag.
A child’s early years are indeed demanding. But even as you find yourself spending these years trying to juggle your work commitments and managing the practical difficulties of raising a young family, you’ll see these years also award you with some of the most precious time in your life – the time when your little ones still fight for your attention unabashedly and are still small enough to beam with pride when you sit on the nursery stool, reading out their favourite bedtime story to their class. So, go ahead, get involved and make the most of it while it lasts!