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Would you patronize a RU daycare??

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Life has come to the point that we need more than DH's income coming in. Originally we had come to the conclusion that it was inevitable that I go back to working outside the home and we were going to put my son in daycare. As it became closer and closer to reality, we just could not do it.  greensad.gif So we decided that we would give ourselves time to brainstorm. We've been looking into all kinds of options and were just kind of going in circles. At the last minute, wouldn't you know my son was the one who saved the day?? winky.gif He came up with an idea that DH and I had never considered, and it was obviously the right plan that we just couldn't even see it. My son is so perceptive!

 

 

Anyway...the idea he came up with is basically that as a family, we would start what would basically be a radical unschooling home daycare. idea.gif Now I have never run a daycare but it's not like I am talking about opening a franchise of the local daycare center chain. Just taking care of a few likeminded local children whose families radically unschool, but need outside of home care. For whatever reason!! This was just what I was looking for when I was daycare shopping, so I imagine there are others out there like us. :) We would of course serve organic vegetarian food, practice consensual living, not force routines for the sake of having routine, not require uniforms (lots of preschools and some DC here do), hang out, have fun, and just live out the radical unschooling lifestyle as a cohesive group. I am just SO excited and had to share with this wonderful community. I feel like this will be such a great thing. We are gearing up now and plan to start advertising by August 1st. My state does not require licensing so startup should be easy enough. I can't wait!!! Funny thing is now that this is going to become a reality, my son is questioning our plans and wondering if he will get along with the kids who will be here. Just a little while ago he asked to leave a playgroup we had been attending b/c he was not comfortable with some of the others. Well I have tried to explain to him that first of all, this will not be like the playgroup and second of all, this was HIS idea! Natural consequences in action huh. winky.gif   Bring on the adventure!!!!

post #2 of 24

I would check regulations regarding daycare and private schools in your area.  Depending on how much time the kids spend in your house and whether they are school aged, this could be an issue with the authorities.  If other parents were there as well, effectively forming a cooperative, then other regulations could apply or none.

     Whether or not this is a great idea is a separate issue.  I think it COULD be.  Some things you can't really judge until you try it.  Perhaps starting it in summertime might postpone the need to be on par with the regulations, if any.  Check with any local homeschool organizations.   They might already have experience with this scenario and could advise you.

post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs joe bubby View Post

 Funny thing is now that this is going to become a reality, my son is questioning our plans and wondering if he will get along with the kids who will be here. Just a little while ago he asked to leave a playgroup we had been attending b/c he was not comfortable with some of the others. Well I have tried to explain to him that first of all, this will not be like the playgroup and second of all, this was HIS idea! Natural consequences in action huh. winky.gif   Bring on the adventure!!!!


The bolded part really concerns me. If you were looking for daycare, he must only be 3 or 4. He makes a suggestion, has second thoughts, and you're considering this a natural consequences lesson? Can't the kid change his mind? Good for him that he is so verbal that he can express his concerns, but then you ignore him and even give a "winky.gif" Wow. 

 

I did babysit one girl then, when he got older her little brother too. We did that for about a year, but it was only twice a week for about 5 hours at a time. I did it so my son would have a playmate. I didn't charge money and we had lots of flexibility...if I needed to be out of town, her dad just kept the kids with him. It was a great experience, but now those kids are going to school/preschool. I've considered offering to watch other homeschooling kids so their parents can work, but for now that's not what I want to do. Anyway, the kids just played while they were here and they had a great time. Very little was required from me except a bit of safety oversight and food prep. (And cleaning paint off faces, marker off walls, etc.)

 

With the right group of kids this could be very successful, but your son is right. If it's not the right group of kids it could be awful. However, given the option of putting my kid in daycare or providing daycare, I'd choose to provide the daycare. Maybe if you talk to your son about his concerns and how things have to change. He either has to be away from you with a group of kids or he can be with you with a group of kids. Tell him it will be a big change and you will make sure you have special time with just him.

 

post #4 of 24

I don't want to be a downer, but I don't think I would. Your description is idyllic, but I honestly can't imagine a cohesive, consentual group of toddlers. I have 3 kids, and their personalities and interests are so vastly different, that even if they all were all about the same age, CL would be so much work as to become practically impossible. (CL is our ideal, but we are often very far from this ideal. Think an extrovert + a homebody + an extrovert who is too young to participate in most activities. Someone is almost always unhappy. Sure, we deal with it, and do our best, but it is not an the rosy picture you envision.

 

Of course you might be able to preselect children that would mesh in with your group, but I'm not sure how plausible it is.

 

Another question, how old is your son? It is one thing if he is 11 and loves younger kids, enjoys playing with them, and loves the idea of a family daycare. It is quite another thing if he is a 6 year old who has a high need for privacy. It might be better if he is a highly extroverted 6 yo, vs. a 6 yo who is picky with whom he plays.

 

Also, when I try to imagine what I'd want for my 3 yo, if I suddenly had to WOH, I wouldn't want a radically unschooling day care, even if we are unschoolers. I wouldn't trust anyone other than parent to RU, especially in a group setting. Well, I'd trust someone with extensive theoretical and practical background in education and child development, someone with exceptional skills and rapport with young children. RU is hard work, and I believe incredibly difficult to implement with young day care children.

 

Even we are not like at home, I'd want my daycare provider to have an established daily rhythm, because I believe that such a rhythm would make my child's experience most comfortable and secure. I believe I'd be choosing a Waldorf inspired daycare.

 

Another issue is that MOST who want to unschool or RU, are likely to be SAHM. Those who plan to WOH, are not that much into unschooling (in the vast majority of cases) but can be interested in alternative daycares, such as Waldorf or Montessori.

 

So an organic Waldorf inspired daycare would be my first choice (as an unschooling parent to send my child to, even if I find pure Waldorf dogmatic and don't agree with many philosophical aspects of it). 

 

Good luck with it! I don't mean to be discouraging. I hope your project evolves in such a way that it is a good fit for your family and provides financial relief as well.

 

post #5 of 24

Here in New Zealand we have an official early childhood education organisation called Playcentre. It is essentially a free play alternative to more structured centres. (Although, my DS went to a kindergarten/daycare at one stage that was very unschooling as well, in fact, most are in NZ until the children hit around 4.5 when they start prepping them for school). There are no set eating times, there are 6 areas of play set up every day for the kids to roam to and be at and play at for however long they wish with no expectations on participating in anything in particular (painting area, playdough, cooking, crafts, role-play/dress ups, construction, plenty of outdoor equipment for gross motor skills, sandpit, carpentry etc) They have a 1 adult to 5 kid ratio, so there is always help on hand. Here is their site, it may help get to see if this is what you're after? http://playcentre.org.nz/ A lot of unschooling families prefer playcentre because it is a parent-run co-op (although state funded, parents pass courses to help the sessions run effectively and to pass on the philosophy) and essentially unschooling philosophy. Each child brings their own lunchbox each day (with healthy eating guidelines, but not necessarily organic etc).

post #6 of 24



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs joe bubby View Post

 

 

We would of course serve organic vegetarian food, practice consensual living, not force routines for the sake of having routine, not require uniforms (lots of preschools and some DC here do), hang out, have fun, and just live out the radical unschooling lifestyle ...

 

Funny thing is now that this is going to become a reality, my son is questioning our plans and wondering if he will get along with the kids who will be here. Just a little while ago he asked to leave a playgroup we had been attending b/c he was not comfortable with some of the others. Well I have tried to explain to him that first of all, this will not be like the playgroup and second of all, this was HIS idea! Natural consequences in action huh. winky.gif   Bring on the adventure!!!!


It doesn't sound very consensual to me that your son made a suggestion, then thought better of it, but is being held to it as "it was his idea".
 

 

post #7 of 24

I have run a daycare for 10 years now and having a routine is essential. When you have a certain number of children, and especially children outside of their homes, away from the parents, not having structure is setting yourself up for a disaster. There are many things that can work wonderfully for some families in their homes, but would be total chaos and dangerous in a daycare setting.

 

A few things to consider:

 

-The wear and tear on your home is significant.

-The state may not allow you to serve all the foods you want, for example it is against the law for me to serve raw milk, any food (meat/vegetable/fruit) that was not purchased in a store. Nothing home grown/raised, farmers market, etc. They are also strict about what I am allowed to feed children of different age groups, ie I *have* to feed infant cereal to kids under 1 every morning.

-After expenses, the money really isn't good. You really have to love what you are doing to make it worthwhile.

 

I would seriously think about what your son is saying about not being sure if he wants this anymore. My kids have never known any different and they still really struggle with it a lot of the time. It is really hard to have to share all of your toys, your personal space, and your mama.

 

Here's the regulations for your state to have children in your home:

 

http://daycare.com/tennessee/tennessee-home-daycare-licensing-requirements.html

 

That is a 54 page document. Similar size to my state, and if TN is like where I live, that is the "basic" manual, and you can look forward to several more.

 

I think it is great that you are so excited about this. Childcare needs enthusiastic people! I just think you have a lot of research to do. Talk to your state, other providers in your area, and please listen to your child. Good luck.

 

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs joe bubby View Post
! This was just what I was looking for when I was daycare shopping, so I imagine there are others out there like us. :) We would of course serve organic vegetarian food, practice consensual living, not force routines for the sake of having routine, not require uniforms (lots of preschools and some DC here do), hang out, have fun, and just live out the radical unschooling lifestyle as a cohesive group. 


Off the top of my head - the veggie food and the not having routine for the sake of routine would work for me (example - the very first daycare I checked out for my son many years ago insisted that all kids nap or lie down for minimum 1.5 hours in the afternoon - I was not Ok with this.  I also think people should be able to eat when they are hungry...that sort of thing).  The lack of uniforms would work for me.  

 

The only thing that would give me pause would be consensual living.  How does that play out?  How does it relate to discipline?  What would you do if 3 out of the 4 kids wanted to go outside (as did you) but one adamantly refused?

 

I actually like a lot of the CL stuff when it is not taken to extreme.  It might be tricky and confusing for the kids to be CL at daycare and not at home.

 

Long story short - I would give such a daycare a chance if I had the degree of CL worked out in advance.

 

 

post #9 of 24
I don't know... it just doesn't seem very likely that you will 1) find that many unschooling families in your area, and 2) find unschooling families that are going to put their kids in daycare. Maybe that's an inaccurate assumption but it seems like most of the unschooling families I know/know of tend to not leave their younger kids. I could be wrong though.

It does sound cool, though somewhat idyllic. I also worry that your DS is not a fan of this idea... plus how will you manage getting out of the house with extra kids?

Have you posted in Finances & Frugality? How much extra money do you need per month? There may be other ways to meet your financial goals... like working opposite shifts or tightening your budget or selling stuff... A RU daycare just doesn't sound particularly lucrative to me. Good luck, though, if you decide to proceed!! smile.gif
Edited by crunchy_mommy - 7/8/11 at 5:39pm
post #10 of 24

This thread has been on my mind all day and I wanted to mention a couple more things for you to think about before you commit to this plan. The first one is naps. I know many states REQUIRE that children have a (specified) period of time where they rest on approved, individual sleeping surfaces. Of course they do not have to sleep, but they have to rest/have quiet time. I know as a provider, I highly value this time myself. I work 11 hour days, 5 days a week and this is the only break I get. Most jobs you have a lunch break and maybe a couple small ones here and there. Not so when it comes to daycare.

 

Second, you have to become a planner. No more on a whim trips to the musuem or a quick run to the store. You'll be making your appointments a month or two in advance. Parents need plenty of notice that they will need to find alternate care. This probably sounds like a trivial thing, but trust me, there are days when I have such cabin fever I want to tear my hair out! Even the decision to play in our yard or go for a walk requires me to prepare 8-10 children in either hates, coats, gloves or hats, sunscreen, etc. Everything you do is different, and your own child has to wait with the group the same as everybody else.

 

Lastly, you will be REQUIRED to clean your house, toys, bedding, etc with a bleach sanitizer at least every day (depending on your state). I don't know how you feel about that, but I know it is not a popular idea at MDC. Before we purchased a sanitizing unit for our kitchen, I also had to bleach all our dishes and utensils after every use. I know that would make a lot of mamas here uncomfortable, so I wanted to give you a heads up.

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agatha_Ann View Post

 

Lastly, you will be REQUIRED to clean your house, toys, bedding, etc with a bleach sanitizer at least every day (depending on your state). I don't know how you feel about that, but I know it is not a popular idea at MDC. Before we purchased a sanitizing unit for our kitchen, I also had to bleach all our dishes and utensils after every use. I know that would make a lot of mamas here uncomfortable, so I wanted to give you a heads up.

You'll also have to identify all the plants and weeds in your yard, mainly for toxic berries.  Rhododendrons are extremely toxic, but kids are not likely to eat them.  Hollies, nightshades, cherry laurels ("English" laurel), even potato berries can be trouble.

 

I realized in my first post I didn't really answer your question about "would I?".  As an unschooler, yes indeed IF I needed a daycare. I am not into academic preschools, and an unschooling daycare would be essentially supervised playtime.  But, one of us is always home.  We do not send the girls to daycare, nor ever have.  A nearby unschooling friend gets dropped off now and then so their parents can work or run errands, and I'm hoping once their youngest is older and less demanding (and my girls likewise) that this can turn into a regular babysitting exchange.  Not too many days, perhaps just one at each house every week or two.  For us, that's all the extra income we really need, plus any more time will essentially ground us, as neither of our families can yet afford a car that can accommodate more kids.

 

     Sorry, such a long-winded answer for a resolute MAYBE!
 

 

post #12 of 24

Just from a practical standpoint, NO.  What happens when you have 3-4 kids, and one child wants to go outside, one child wants to stay inside, one child wants a snack and the last child is 'going to the park'?  This is what you are going to be facing with at  RU daycare.  Daycares have rules and schedules for a reason.  They have snack time, outside time, park time, inside time etc for specific reasons.  That way all the kids know when things will happen.  Try to wrangle up 3-4 toddlers and preschoolers who are all headed in different directions.  Its not pretty.  These kids don't want to hear reasoning, they don't want to wait.  They want xyz and they want it now.  Why?  Because there is no schedule and they don't know what to expect.

 

I've run a small daycare back in the day and the lifesaver was the schedule.

post #13 of 24

I think if you keep it small enough, you don't have to follow all the regulations of a daycare.  And maybe the families you work for wouldn't need care all day every day.  It could also be that parents of older kids would want to hire you which might be easier than a bunch of same aged toddlers/preschool aged kids.  I know having kids over all day every day would be hard on my own ds.  I wouldn't be able to give him the attention and help he wants, but we occasionally watch my niece, who is a pretty easy going toddler, for the day.  That works well now though it was hard when my ds was younger and I watched a different toddling niece.  I like the idea of there being a place where I could have taken my school aged ds for the afternoon (or morning) a couple times a week.  It wouldn't have to be RU as such, but someplace that treats kids respectfully and facilitates positive interactions.

post #14 of 24

If you don't follow the regs, you can't be licensed in many states.  If you're not licensed, parents cannot claim the childcare tax credit, which means you've just become 20% more expensive than other childcare situations.  

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by savithny View Post

If you don't follow the regs, you can't be licensed in many states.  If you're not licensed, parents cannot claim the childcare tax credit, which means you've just become 20% more expensive than other childcare situations.  


Right, I mean if it's small enough, you may not be required to be licensed and therefore not required to follow the regs.  I know there's some kind of cut off regarding the number of kids.  Someone can do daycare for another persons child or two and not be required to be licensed.  Good point about the parents not being able to take the tax credit.  The OP would have to number crunch and see if charging less would be feasible.  Or maybe the right people would be willing to lose that credit for the right environment for their child.

 

post #16 of 24

I have some experience with this scenario.  I just finished a 2-year run with a "toddler playgroup" in my home.  Plusses and minuses of many kinds. 

 

The idea kind of fell into my lap.  A group of likeminded mamas I knew, not unschoolers really, but "alternative" types - many nonvaxed kids, etc, were looking to form a sort of co-op, but nobody wanted to host (or take a turn watching the kids - so, it ended up being less like a co-op and more of a Mother's Day Out program).  They approached me about using my home.  The way we set it up was twice a week, 5 hour days, three adult "workers," myself and two others who had been nannying some of the kids, 12 kids max per day, $25/day/kid, all informal, unregistered, unstructured. 

 

This worked for me because:

1) I wasn't interested in having the state inspect my house, or really, being on the radar in any form

2) THEY had asked ME, and they all knew each other and us caregivers well, so I felt the potential for bad feelings/reporting to the authorities/what have you was extremely low

3) it was only 2 days a week, so DS and I had freedom on 3 other days to do whatever else we wanted to do  

4) having 2 other adults come help saved my sanity.

 

While the environment wasn't what I'd think could be called RU (get 12 kids between ages of 1 and 4 in a space and see how RU or CL works!) it was less structured and demanding, and more supportive, of the kids than any other daycare environment I've seen.  Kids could eat their lunch anytime, play with whatever was around, and with 3 of us to supervise they had full run of indoors/outdoors and help with pottying/diapers/opening lunch containers, etc.  Our main role was basically preventing injury and meltdowns, which we did with as little intervention as seemed prudent.  We did plan crafts and games and such, but it was mostly free-range play.  When we started, parents contributed thrifted big yard toys, jungle gyms, sand table, water table, books, etc. and also took turns bringing snacks for the group, which made it feel like more of a cooperative effort.

 

This experience did solidify my suspicion that children under the age of maybe 4 are simply not developmentally capable/interested in playing together in groups.  We made it work, but it was less than ideal, mainly for that reason.  Other minuses: toward the end (last 4-5 months?) DS was consistently NOT into it, felt pretty invaded by the 2x/wk influx, and often spent a couple hours in our bedroom (one of the rooms that was off-limits to Playgroup Friends) before deciding to come out and play.  He would say, "No playgroup today!" and after a while I started to feel the same way - our house was not our own.  I felt like on some level we were betraying our commitment to unschooling for our own DS.  When he was smaller it was less of an issue, but after he turned 3 he needed more from me, and began to resent the other kids taking my attention away from him.

 

Over the course of 2 years, the kids switched in and out a bit.  It was much easier logistically once only a couple of them were in diapers!  Older ones went on to preschool, which always made me sad.  And I thought a few times about letting the playgroup morph into a smaller group of older kids who were interested in trying out unschooling - sort of an unschooled school - but always came to the conclusion that it would compromise our own unschooling plans as a family.  None of the kids were really from RU families, and I don't think RU works part-time, especially if the RU part is out of the home!  And even if their parents did consider themselves radical unschoolers, that would probably look different in each family anyway.  I just couldn't see how it would work.  Maybe with people we knew well enough to be kind of like family... but then we'd be charging money?  Would be a strange arrangement.

 

Our DD was just born, and that was the official reason for ending playgroup at our house.  But I think I would've needed to end it soon anyway, newborn or no, because it was starting to become a real issue for DS.  I'd recommend really listening to your son throughout the whole process, and if you do go ahead with a daycare, set excellent boundaries from the beginning and be willing to change your plan if necessary.

 

post #17 of 24

Honestly, unless I knew the provider very well, I would hesitate to patronize an RU daycare.  RU is going to look different in every home, and I would be concerned that without any routines, it would be easy for a child to go too long between meals or diaper changes.  My kids went to a co-op mother's day out program for a while, and when I volunteered there it was clear to me that a child could easily get lost in the shuffle, and so having some routines where EVERYONE got offered food etc... was helpful.  

 

I would also consider the total cost of running a daycare, and calculate what your total hourly wage is likely to be, including the time you spend cleaning and shopping for the daycare on evenings and weekends.  I can't help but wonder if you couldn't make as much working in the evenings/weekends outside your home with less disruption for your son.

 

Have you read "Your Money or your life"?  There are a lot of ideas in there for ways to cut costs, work out bartering, that kind of thing.  

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post

... I would be concerned that without any routines, it would be easy for a child to go too long between meals or diaper changes.  My kids went to a co-op mother's day out program for a while, and when I volunteered there it was clear to me that a child could easily get lost in the shuffle, and so having some routines where EVERYONE got offered food etc... was helpful.  



I don't think routines and RU are opposed.  You can be aware of which kids have eaten and been changed at which times without being coercive or having everyone on the same schedule.  It's harder to do, sure, but not impossible, especially if you have another adult to help.  (This is not to say an RU daycare in other ways is possible/desirable; just that lack of routine does not equal RU IMO.

post #19 of 24

Forum crashing to say my story.  Have you considered being a nanny?  We just hired a nanny for our 2 and 4 year old and our number one applicant was an unschooling mamma to a 6 year old.  She would bring her daughter with her to our house.  She is an MDC member.  We found all of this at the interview.  We loved her!  She was totally fine with our no vaxed kids and our gentle discipline methods and me still breastfeeding my 2 year old.  Overall, she totally "got" it.  I SO wanted to hire her!  Unfortunately, our schedules just didn't click and we went with our #2 choice.  (BTW, my kids will be going to a traditional school, but I totally respected her choice to unschool her daughter.) 

 

But, maybe you could consider this?  With being a nanny there's no licensure and there will be less kids and more money.  Also, you could easily ask to not pay taxes and that would save everybody money if you wanted to stay under the radar.  Also, you could somewhat pick the family, so they could be a good match with you. 

 

Good luck on whatever you decide. 

post #20 of 24
Quote:

Originally Posted by Xerxella View Post

 

  With being a nanny there's no licensure and there will be less kids and more money.  Also, you could easily ask to not pay taxes and that would save everybody money if you wanted to stay under the radar.  

 



It's pretty easy to be a nanny under the radar, but legally, caring for an unrelated child in your own home for compensation is daycare, which might or might not be regulated in your state.  Going to their house with your kids would not be.  Laws vary from state to state.  I am an unrepentant scofflaw, but at least you should know the regs being flouted. 

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