So the town I live in has a little fitness place that does an open gym for kids ages 5 and under. It's free and runs from January-March for a couple hours every Wednesday morning. We've gone the last two weeks and today while I was there I found myself thinking the same thing that I think every time I take the girls to play some place---whether it be open gym, the mall play area, the children's museum, story hour, etc. ...and that is that there are very obvious difference between kids who attend daycare and those who stay at home with a parent.
Now obviously there are exceptions just like everything in life (so don't leave me comments complaining about how your daycare provider watches kids like a hawk or how your stay at home kid is super outgoing---because this is just a lighthearted take based on averages I've noticed :-).... but for the most part here are my observations about the differences beween daycare kids and stay at home kids:
1) Daycare kids are better at independent play. This really shouldn't come as any surprise, but it's one of the most obvious things when I go places like this. I can spot the stay at home kids and daycare kids immediately. The daycare kids are the ones running around playing by themselves, oblivious to whether any adult is paying the least bit of attention to them. The stay at home kids are easy to spot because they are the ones being followed around by a parent. Raya always tells me "follow me Mama" or "play with me Mama" and she is nervous to run off by herself. I'm sure this is because stay at home kids are used to having a lot of adult attention/play, which is one of the things I *wanted* my girls to have when I decided to stay home with them. But still, part of me wishes I could sit and read a book while they went off to play by themselves at places like this!
2) Daycare kids are *worse* at sharing. I know, this has been shocking to me too! You would think that kids in daycare would be used to sharing and therefore better at it, but no. I've found the opposite to be true. Daycare kids are hoarders. I would guess it's because they are used to many kids constantly playing with the same toys/taking their toys/etc. They probably rarely have toys that are specifically theirs rather than group property. So they end up hoarding toys and being worse at sharing. For instance, today Raya was playing with a beanbag toss game and suddenly two daycare kids were upon us, stealing all the beanbags and hoarding them close to their body lol. Raya was oblivious to their stealing so she said "oh, your turn!" and then when they never gave them back to her I had to tell them to give her one. Raya, bless her heart, would give the beanbag back after her turn and say "your turn now!" :-) I think stay at home kids are perhaps better at sharing because they are so trusting that they will get their stuff back. They haven't had as many experiences with their toys being stolen and hoarded from them!
3) Daycare providers see these play areas/activities as a *vacation*, whereas stay at home moms see it as a *learning opportunity*. Seriously, I'm starting to dread things like this because I feel like I'm watching and disciplining everyone else's kids! The open gym we went to today has lots of in home providers who go. You can tell who they are because the walk in with a gaggle of kids and then release them like wild animals---and then they go sit off to the side and chit chat, read the newspaper, drink their coffee, etc. It's like they are on vacation! Stay at home moms on the other hand see these things as times to teach social skills, turn taking, making friends, etc. so they are right there with the kids faciliating things, disciplining, etc. This would be fine except on more than one occassion I see a fellow stay at home mom who is calling out "who's kid is this?!" and today for example it literally took 5 minutes to track down which daycare provider was supposed to be supervising a kid who was in a corner crying. Also today were were playing and some little brat (yeah, I said it!) who was about 4 years old hauled off and slapped Brielle for no reason! I had no idea who the kid belonged to but I immediately grabbed her hand and said "no no, we do not hit other kids!" She just ran off and laughed. Grrr. Poor Brielle cried and wanted nothing to do with playing after that! Also I've found that as soon as I engage my kids in an activity at these things I immediately have 10 daycare kids trying to play too, because suddenly they have something fun to do while their daycare people are on vacation :-P
4) Stay at home kids are way better dressed. In less than 10 seconds I can pick out the stay at home kids at things like this, simply by what they are wearing! haha. It's obvious that the parents of daycare kids just dress them in something easy, inexpensive, etc...play clothes. Now I would do this too if I were them--because you don't want your kid ruining their nice clothes at daycare. But it cracks me up then to see, in contrast, the stay at home kids....who's parents are obviously thrilled that their kids are actually going to be seen outside the house by other human beings LOL. Today I saw no less than 2 stay at home kids wearing tutu skirts to the open gym. They were decked out! Their moms were wearing nice clothes too. All around they were just pumped to be strutting their stuff outside the home! :-) The daycare providers were in sweats and tennis shoes, watching their gaggle of play clothes wearing kids. Too funny.
5) Daycare kids have more stamina. There could be a multitude of reasons for this, but I've found that daycare kids will play at these things until they are drug out of there and the place closes. Stay at home kids play for 30 minutes or so and then want to move on--they've lost interest. I think this is partly because stay at home kids often have the luxuary of going place to place during the day, and when they are bored they have a parent right there ready to suggest a new activity---as opposed to daycare kids who are probably pretty used to staying at the same place day after day. This is another case where I wish Raya was a little bit more like the daycare kids!
So all in all we have fun going to things like this and I love seeing how Raya interacts with the other kids (she typically attaches herself to the first little girl who shows her attention, and then follows that girl around haha. My mom says that is exactly what *I* did in preschool!) Like anything there are some positives and negatives to both daycare and staying at home when it comes to kids and socializing, etc.....I just think it's really interesting to see the differences play out in situations like this! Probably my school psych degree coming out and missing all the classroom observations I used to do haha :-P
Sorry, no pictures today! I should have taken my camera to our open gym I guess!