Saturday, November 14, 2009

Separation anxiety

Infant room on the Railroad side
Come January, after we come back from Singapore, Jude and I will be putting Sophie in daycare. It breaks our heart to do it but if both of us want to finish our dissertations in any decent amount of time, we really don't have a choice. Now that she's increasingly responsive and social, it's taking me a lot to manage my time between work and playing with her. I can only squeeze in pockets of time when she's napping (which are getting shorter and fewer in the day) or at night after we've put her to bed to get anything done. And so yesterday, we visited Gretchen's House at Dhu Varren to have a look. It's the closest Gretchen's House to our place (distance is a huge factor for us) and comes highly recommended both from parents who've sent their kids there as well as friends who've taught there before.

It's a lovely, lovely place- bright and warm, with cheery rooms and even cheerier teachers. The infants we saw looked so happy playing in their sensory areas and are clearly well taken care of. One of the biggest things for us is that Sophie will be actively cared for at daycare and not just left in a crib to entertain herself (or as Jude fears, abandoned to wallow in her own dirty diaper...). We want to know that she's being appropriately engaged and stimulated, given lots of affection and hugs and it looks like that's what they do at Gretchen's House. All the teachers have at least a 4-year B.A. degree in a child development field which assures us that Sophie will be getting the most developmentally appropriate care possible.

As we were walking around, I was thinking how funny it was that my work and personal life have collided in this way- in my research job, I work quite a bit on child care quality and in one of the papers I produced for Columbia University, I presented research which suggests that for infants, family day care is more appropriate because of the more intimate environment that simulates the home. I always thought I'd put Sophie in family day care because of that but high quality ones are so hard to find, especially high quality ones near us. And in a situation like this, I'd rather put her in a high quality center than a low quality family day care. Besides, at Gretchen's House, even though they're licensed for a teacher to child ratio of 1:4, they keep it at 1:3 so that the babies get as much personal attention as possible. The whole place is also designed to replicate a home environment, with pods of classrooms that are self-contained units with access to a central living space and the outdoor area.

The tuition for Gretchen's House will be expensive (it costs more than our monthly rent!) but with a student subsidy, we're hoping to make it work. Besides, nothing's more important to us that making sure that Sophie is well taken care of so if it means cutting back on our expenses (thanks to Hulu, we're thinking of dropping our cable anyway...) and being very mindful about how we spend our money, it'll be well worth it!

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