Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Starting "Baby School"

I figured it was an easier for Peanut to understand that "today is a Baby School Day" rather than "today you are going to Mother's Day Out".

While there isn't much formal learning going on -- and I don't think that there needs to be for an 18 month old -- Peanut is learning about socialization, independence and creativity every Baby School Day.

When she went for her first day, mama also had to learn another lesson about separation and how independent her baby is. I managed to only go by the "school" twice that day to peek in through the two-way mirror. Every time I looked in, Peanut was busily engaged with caring for a baby doll, eating or playing with the fun toys they had for her. She looked happy to see me at the end of her five hour day, but was also pretty glad the next time we pulled up to the "school".

Now, Peanut cheerfully goes to her classroom, gives mama a kiss and takes off to check on her baby dolls. I'm so glad that she enjoys her time there. I'm certainly enjoying my time to browse the book store, do some yoga, take a nap, make dinner, make phone calls, paint my toenails......just catch up on life! I think everyone around the house has been much more relaxed since Peanut started Baby School.

In our community, many Mother's Day Out programs are hosted by local churches. Some begin as young as infants and have classes through pre-school. The 'teachers' are often members of the congregation who have their own children enrolled in the MDO program. 'Teachers' recieve about 15 hours of training, including first aid and CPR, during the year, but don't need to have any other qualifications. Prices for the programs vary, but most are around $150 - $200 a month for two days a week, five hours a day programs.

However, not all MDO programs are licensed by the state of Texas. In order to be licensed a center 0r home-based care program must meet a list of minimum health and safety requirements and be subject to reviews. You can search their database to see the current standing of programs. If a program is not licensed, they do not have to follow the minimum requirements - frightening because they are pretty basic guidelines!

When I looked at the programs in the Coppell area, virtually every one of them had a citation of one sort or another. Some just one paperwork related one, others a whole series of repeating offenses. One got cited for an incident of toddlers on the playground looking at each other's bare bottoms....

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