motherhood, parenting

To Daycare or Not to Daycare


I am a stay-at-home mom. My son is now a 28-month old Little Dynamo. He loves to be with people. He loves to be with children. And that observation doesn’t just come from me:-).

A few weeks ago, I was determined to put my son in a daycare. I knew he was ready for it. When I saw him in a daycare we last visited, he didn’t want to go home. He would rather stay behind than go with mommy. Psychologically and emotionally, we were decided that he should be in daycare… until I heard my Korean friend talk to the songsaengnim and said (in Korean) that my son is an active little boy… to the effect that he is more active than a regular boy. I was quite offended and right there I got those serious doubts about letting him in the daycare. No offense to my friend. She has a daughter who is tamer compared to my boy (aren’t girls generally really tamer than boys?). My boy is very active but is easy to talk to… unlike her own toddler who throws tantrums and shouts with a shrill voice. Okay, I was offended that’s why I added a nasty comparison.

My friend may have meant well but it gave me a realization that I would rather be in control of the firsts (first impression, first day, first orientation) of my son. I don’t want anyone forming their opinion of my son because of what they had been told, rather than what they personally see. This is a very important phase in my son’s life and I could only blame myself if he has a bad start. The daycare center that we went to is quite good and I am satisfied with it. But the songsaengnim in charge of my son speaks no English at all, although she understands a little. So, it brings me to the important part of my son’s daycare experience. I can’t understand the songsaengnim (I speak very, very little Korean) and communication gap between us might be disastrous to my son’s first daycare.

Because of the above experience, it led me into thinking: why should I put my son in a daycare? I am a stay-at-home mom… and he is just 28 months old. If I am working, there will be no second thoughts about that, I guess. Somebody has to take care of him. We can’t have a full-time nanny here in Seoul. That’s just impossible. I love taking care of him. Sometimes, I just feel that I am no longer enough for him. But when it comes to socialization, I came to realize that my son is not so behind in this aspect. We go out almost everyday. He gets to meet children. He loves to be with them. He is comfortable with adults, too. My primary concern is his learning the Korean language… a necessity for him at this stage so that he can comfortably mingle with other kids. Whenever I see him with other kids, he tries to say the words they say… I guess, that’s the start of learning. But I can’t help him further on that… unless I go back to studying the language, too:-).

As a mother, I am not too good with schedule.  Even if I want us to have a 5-10 minutes study time everyday, my own laxity makes it impossible. Oh sure, he knows his numbers and his alphabets. Sometimes I feel I could do more if I am more conscious of time. But I can’t even make my toddler sleep on a regular time at night (LOL). He sleeps when he wants to and I let him be:-). After his bedtime stories, he continues on jumping on the bed and performing for Daddy and Mommy. Most often, my husband and I fall asleep ahead while he goes on playing in his own bed.

Dilemma. Dilemma.

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7 thoughts on “To Daycare or Not to Daycare

  1. hi michael – this is wendy. i think you’re addressing your comment to me as the author of the post above:-). hubby and i speak english to our son, too and that’s the only language he can speak and understand, so far. for practical reasons, we do not address him in Filipino, our national language. Nobody will go out of their way here in Korea to speak to him in Filipino:-). since you have access to these kind of programs and if you are counting numbers so special classes will be offered for kids of expats here in seoul, please count me in. i am after my son’s welfare but i can’t imagine paying exorbitant daycare fees that are being offered by existing english daycares here in seoul. my email address is: admin@myrockingcradle.com. thanks.

  2. hi maria–

    i’m a dad with a somewhat similar dilemma– my wife and i think our son is ready for some regular interaction, but we plan to take him back to the states when he is ready for first grade, and have made the decision to teach him english exclusively at first, in order for him to have a first language and then a second one later on, after he’s gotten his bearings in the first, rather than two at once. i respect the decision people make to intoduce variations of bilingual ed, we’ve simply made a different one, and don’t want to throw him a curve at this critical stage [he’s just turned 2 and is now really learning to communicate]. the problem is finding decent english daycare that is not outlandishly expensive or too far away from us. there are plenty of korean programs for this age that are run quite well– my idea is that if a large enough group of foreigners show up and request a special class, these places will make one and staff it with a qualified native speaker or legitimately bilingual korean national–simple economics–if there’s a demand, they’ll meet it. but we’re rare– it does not make sense to have such classes if you meet such people individually every once in a blue moon. so i want to send feelers out there to get a group of parents together with similar goals, which can then create what it is we need. i work in publishing now, but have spent years in administration of such academies, and that is precisely the way korean parents get specialty classes–there is no reason we can’t, too…

  3. hi maria, you’re right a mom’s energy doesn’t seem to be enough. that’s why i sometimes think that i am not enough for his growing needs:-)

    The Mother – thanks for your insights. my boy would sometimes ask me about daycare. he is looking forward to it:-) but the story above affected my decision to go for it. thus, my current dilemma. i salute you for having 4 boys. my husband grew up with 3 male siblings, too. it was a daily mess:-)

    hi cher – i think so, too. in fact, i have observed he is comfortable with both children and adults around. so, i was quite offended ng pinangunahan ng kaibigan kong korean ang teacher. she thinks compared to her daughter, my son is very active. though, i have a different opinion because her daughter always displays nasty temper. anyway, my case is an example of language barrier difficulties.

  4. i don’t think your son is TOO ACTIVE, i’ve handled korean kindergarten kids and believe me your son would absolutely be considered SHY compared to them. I think he is normal, as I’ve mentioned when I visited your house my nephew is also as active as your son and that’s normal for a smart little boy. Don’t worry, I think the teacher just got scared because she can’t communicate with your kid.

    cher´s last blog post..The Gullas Bill

  5. There’s no hard and fast requirement for sending him to daycare–you don’t even HAVE to send them to school. I don’t think it really hurts their socialization experience (but then, I have 4, so there was plenty of socializing just between the boys).

    The main reason is to give mom a break. A few hours a day is a blessing. You can go shopping without the hassles of bringing a little boys along.

    My rule about daycare, though, is that it has to be what the child wants. You can make it what he wants, by talking it up and getting him excited about it, but if you just drag him, it’s going to be a mess.

    And don’t worry about how he acts or what other people think. They’ll get to know him. First impressions don’t mean much when his personality is changing daily.

    The Mother´s last blog post..Corporeal Punishment? Is that a Yes/No Question?

  6. My 4yr old is in daycare, since I work full time. I am currently on maternity leave with my newborn but keep my 4yr old at daycare 2-3 times a week. I think it’s great for his social skills. Also, no matter how much energy I try to give him, it doesn’t match the energy his friends can give him at the daycare.

    If you don’t feel comfortable putting him in daycare, giving him some social interaction with other kids (like you already do) is important. I think either way, he’ll be fine. You seem to keep his well being (emotional and physical) in mind all the time which is great.

    Maria@Conversations with Moms´s last blog post..Product Recalls – Dorel Juvenile Gates and Jerry Leigh Children’s Hooded Sweaters

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