Question: Hello, I'm going through a divorce and have a 3 year old son. I would like to switch him from a home day care to a day-care center. I feel that this will be an all-around better experience with more kids and diversity, and will also better prepare him for pre-school, etc. Is it better to leave him where he is (for stability reasons), or is it OK to change day-cares now?
Answer: Dear Nina:
Let me start by saying I am sorry you have experienced a divorce. Being a single parent is a heroic situation.
Here is my response to your question.
Not only is it better to keep him where he is (providing he receives nurturing care in a stimulating environment) for stability reasons it is also better because preparation for the reasons you mentioned is over rated.
Often parents are told that putting children in institutionalized settings is better for socialization for children. However there is a big difference between becoming socialized and civilized. Children can learn socialization skills at home. What they tend to learn more of in an instructional setting is more of what parents do not want them to learn and then it is too late.
Most families can not avoid sending children off to an institutionalized setting however delaying it as long as possible is a good idea. Interruptions in children's routines and disruption in caregivers before the age of 6 does have an impact on children.
Children rarely have a concept of time before the age of 7 or 8. Before then it is all about routines. The more their routines are kept intact the more self confident they can become in their routine. The longer they are in a nurturing environment with a stable care giver the more resilient they will become.
M Kay Keller