Working in a daycare is hard, but extremely important

Rebecca Dombrowski, Reporter

Every time I tell someone what I do for a living, they say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Being a lead teacher in a daycare is a job that stresses you physically, emotionally and mentally. So, I tell them the truth: I don’t know how I do it either. Especially on unlivable wages.

Kids push your buttons, they test their limits, and above all, they just are plain mean. They are pint-sized humans without the capabilities of expressing how they feel. This mostly equates to biting, hitting, and toy stealing — things that are inappropriate in every day society. My job is to show them how to react in fair ways, without losing my mind in the process.

I’ve had so many people not understand the difficulties of this job. Even my own brother (an accountant) has told me that anyone can do it. After reading that job description, do you think you would be able to do it?

People look down on the childcare field because it is not as established as public middle and high schools, even though studies show early development is even more imperative than those learning years.

This is because it is looked at as a woman’s job. Something we were born and trained to do, because of our hormones, or whatever. Just because we have maternal instincts and enjoy playing with children does not mean it is an easy responsibility to take care of other people’s children.

The government needs to drastically change its view on my current profession. It is looked at as an overpriced babysitting service. It is far from that, if it is a decent quality daycare. Unfortunately, many places aren’t able to give what they would truly like to, and know the children would benefit most from, because they do not receive enough funding.

According to a recent short film, “Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks,” when a baby is born, it has 100 billion neurons, which grow into a quadrillion different connections within the first five years. In comparison, the Internet has 100 trillion links, and an adult’s brain has 300 trillion connections.

A child’s brain has 10 times the amount of connections as the entire Internet.

All the quadrillion connections are built through every interaction the child has with the people around her/him. The film clarifies, “Every time you are interacting with a child, you are literally growing a brain.” How important is that?

Children need to learn to be creative, to be empathetic, and to be secure, resilient and independent. If they are not getting that at home, it needs to come from the people taking care of them up to 60 hours a week.

If the staff at a childcare center cannot take care of their own needs, they are more likely to give less of themselves to the children in their care. Daycare is stressful enough, but when you can’t feed your own children, or even yourself, it becomes too much of a weight to bear. Many people have a great passion for this field, and are just not able to do it because they cannot live off the wages given.

Early childhood educators deserve far better than what we are offered now. Overcrowded rooms with undertrained staff, places lacking supplies, and toys and shelves not suitable for being around children.

The worst of it is that at some places, we are paid less than fast food and retail workers. I’m not saying there is something wrong with this work, as it helped me pay for college; just that I would like to be better off, not worse off, after leaving an institution that leaves me in debt.

When the stepping stones of the American Dream, i.e. college, higher education, do not lead you into a career that can afford you a lifestyle to be reasonably comfortable, let alone able to pay back those loans you took out to become well-educated, our society may crumble beneath its own feet.

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