Why choose childcare for your child?

During puberty, I was the one to scream loudest how I never wanted children. Because why? Why participate in society’s ideals, when you could have a carefree existence?

When I was 19 and in my third year of the study Cultural and Societal Education, a friend’s sister advised me to work in childcare, next to my education, because ‘that really suited me’. She had done this herself, next to her study PABO (primary school education), and told me very passionately about how beautiful this job was. I laughed loudly, and said that this really wasn’t for me and that I thought childcare was kind of sad for the children. She asked me why and continued to dig deeper. She told me a completely different side of the story and I threw myself into the deep end…

Not much later, I sent an e-mail to several childcare centres. One childcare centre that stood out was Zo Kinderopvang and I received a reply from them only a day later, asking whether I would come try out the next morning. I e-mailed back that I would like that, though I had some doubts.
I ended up at the Van Nijenrodestraat, where I – miraculously – would later spend 7 years of my career. I was welcomed by kind, warm educational staff members and I started on the baby group. I had worked as a babysitter before but I had never cared for children so young. I thought it was very busy, even though the educational staff members were unbelievably great at keeping serenity. I was completely unfamiliar with this world.
They let me do a few things by myself – something I really appreciated. They gave me small tasks and I truly admired how good and patient they handled 9 babies at the same time, who each had different rhythms and needs. That morning, I was also allowed to take a look at the toddlers and pre-schoolers group. There were more children in a group space and it was a bit busier. Unbelievable that someone could do this job full-time, I remember thinking. I could not imagine myself doing that ‘later’…
The day after, the head office called me to say that I could start a few days later.
As I could only work for a few hours a week, because of my study, I worked at every location on several groups. I liked that a lot; it made me feel like I truly got to know the company and the job. Even though I worked at different locations, with many different educational staff members (a few men too!), I always perceived one line, one methodology. My opinion on childcare slowly started to change…
At school, I regularly announced my enthusiastic opinion about my part time job and infected multiple classmates – also men – with the ‘virus’ that is called ‘working in childcare with endless love and enthusiasm’.

I saw how much childcare could offer a child… 

After I had graduated when I was 21, I was asked to become a regular staff member for a group at the Van Nijenrodestraat. I told the woman in human resources: ‘’I feel honoured and I want to do it, but I won’t stay longer than a year, due to my education!’’ She laughed and said: ‘’Well.. I said the same back then. We’ll talk again in a year!
I started on the baby group – absolutely not for me, at the time – and I moved to the toddler group after 1.5 month – definitely for me. I was still wondering how people could work here full-time for years and why so many people bring their child to a childcare centre because it’s kind of sad, I might add.
My opinion soon changed completely. I saw how much the childcare centre could offer a child. Why is it sad to bring your child here? It is almost worse to keep it home for seven days a week! I saw that especially the social-emotional development of a child was stimulated at the daycare centre, because it is the best place for young children to meet peers, thus to practice these skills. I saw how many children were happy to come to us and how much they learned there. How many milestones were reached by children, parents and colleagues. We were busy building something incredibly beautiful. The first part of a child’s life.

It takes a village to raise a child

I realised that children didn’t just come to a daycare centre to play and that educational staff members weren’t simply glorified babysitters. I realised how much a daycare centre actually contributes to the development of a child, in collaboration with parents and guardians. Because after all: it takes a village to raise a child. Raising a child is a shared task and the responsibility of all adults in children’s lives.
The love you receive as an educational staff member was also inconceivably beautiful and grand. It is extraordinary what such a small being can bring about within our entire team. Slowly but surely, my job became more and more special…
My environment found this very funny. After all, I had always been the girl to scream that I never wanted children and that working in childcare was not for me, right?!

Throughout the years, I have seen and learned so much. Every day at a daycare centre is different. There are no boring days. Every day is a new, great challenge. But not just for the children or the educational staff members: for the parents too.
I have seen many parents cry when they handed their child over to me for the first few days and I definitely understand that. Because that young girl of 21 can’t possibly do it better than you can.
But those new parents, too, changed their minds. They got over their insecurities and lack of awareness. They saw their child taking so many steps throughout the years because of the great addition of childcare, next to their home situation, and they even saw their child at the end of the day at age 3 or even 2, telling them: ‘’Daddy, mummy! You’re way too early! I want to play some more!’’. They saw their child become potty-trained, become more confident when he/she was able to do more on their own, say new words, had made new friends, made music on instruments for children, showed their craftworks proudly… They saw how their child experienced a second home at the daycare centre, with everything it has to offer. And that we, as educational staff members, could create that in a team: that, especially, was very magical.

Working with endless love and enthusiasm

And now, as a manager – more than 9 years since I started as a regular – I get to work on building such a beautiful beginning of a child’s life with my own team at another location, in collaboration with their parents. Building together. Working hard together. Having fun with children, parents and colleagues, together.

Even though I did not choose this career after secondary school, I am extremely happy to have landed here. I am doing something beautiful and important in this society, together with my team. Every day, my colleagues and I get so much love and laughs from all the children. This work gives me so much satisfaction.
If I could choose again, I would absolutely have taken this road.

As I said before: I have been seized by the ‘virus’ that is called ‘working in childcare with endless love and enthusiasm’.

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