How Do I know if my Toddler Likes Daycare? Some Thoughtful Signs for Parents

Early Childhood Education can be a challenging time for parents, especially when trying to understand how your child feels about their daycare environment. How can a toddler who can barely talk, share how they feel about the place they spend a large amount of their time? And of course you as a parent, don’t want them to be in an unhealthy environment for their social and mental development. So how can you put your mind at ease that your little one likes daycare?

Well at this age, it’s not always about the words, it’s about the Signs. Both positive and negative. By watching your child’s behavior patterns, you can get a clear indication about how they really feel, regardless of their words. Below are some positive signs to look for:

Positive Sign #1: Excitement about Daycare.

If your toddler is enthusiastic whenever the subject of daycare is brought up, that’s a good sign! They won’t be jumping up and down to go every day, of course. But generally, in a quality childcare setting, they should enjoy going. Especially listen for the names of favorite teachers or friends in the class.

Positive Sign #2: Reluctance to Leave.

Children in fulltime daycare spend a large part of their day in a supervised childcare setting. One way you know they are enjoying themselves is if they are hesitant to leave at the end of the day. They might be happy to see you as the parent of course, but they might want to remain in their environment a little longer instead of leaving right away. This is a clear sign that your child is deeply and positively engaged in the activites and the social interactions offered at the daycare center.

Positive Sign #3: Development Milestones & Progress.

Noticeable improvements in language, social skills, and independence can be a good indicator that daycare is having positive effects on your child’s development. A stimulating and supportive daycare environment will work education into all facets of their daycare development, and a child who is engaged will be soaking in all this academic goodness.

Now just as there are positive signs to watch for a healthy experience at daycare, there are also negative signs. These are just as important to watch out for, as they could signal that your child is not happy at childcare, even if they don’t tell you with words. So here’s 3 concerning signs to be aware of:

Negative Sign #1: Persistent Reluctance to go to Daycare.

While initial resistance to attending a new childcare center is completely normal, there should be a point some weeks later where your toddler grows used to their new routine and embraces it. If this never happens, and you child has ongoing distress or anxiety centered around going to daycare, this could be a red flag.

Negative Sign #2: Behavioral Changes at Home.

It’s normal for kids to model and copy the behavior of their peers. However this is a double-edged sword, because they can also pick up bad habits from a Daycare having trouble keeping the class under control or tamping down bad influences. If you notice increased aggression, biting, clinginess, or disobedience from your child after some time of attending daycare, that could be a sign the classroom is not a healthy environment.

Negative Sign #3: Apathy Towards their Daily Activities.

Some children are more talkative and forthcoming then others. Some can’t wait to tell you all about their day, and others when asked, will say it was “fine”. A lot can be chalked up to personality differences. However, if your normally talkative child seems reluctant to discuss their day, or seems uninterested in completing after school crafts or homework, that could be a sign that your toddler isn’t engaged in the daily activities of the classroom and is not happy there.

Communication is Key:

A quality daycare provider should be very communicative and transparent about challenges your child might be facing in their day. If you have any concerns at all or see any of these negative behaviors in your child, feel free to discuss it with your childcare provider. They will be able to share deeper insights on your toddler’s daycare experience, and why they may be acting that way. On the flipside, if you see lots of positive changes in your child since sending them to school, tell the teachers thank you! The industry is challenging to work in, and they would greatly appreciate the kind words.

To Summarize:

Whether your child likes daycare or not is a complex question. The answer depends on watching your child’s behavior, actions, and words carefully. By you as a parent staying tuned into what your child needs, and how they respond, you can ensure that you put them in the best center for them, so they can soar in their journey of mental, physical and emotional development during these formative years!

Penguin Crossing Academy is a leading childcare center and preschool proudly serving the Lewis Center area in Columbus, Ohio since 2006. We are committed to providing the best quality childcare service, and holding fast to our commitment to offer a safe and loving environment. We have tenured, credentialed teachers that are passionate about early childhood education including some that have been with us 5+ years. We offer a phenomenal curriculum, supplemented with rich extracurricular activities, that make bringing your child(ren) to school easy and fun! Our location is bright, clean and state-of-the-art, with large outdoor playground. Schedule a Tour today, we would love to have your child be the newest member of our family!