When your preschooler stays at home

When your preschooler stays at home
Whether it’s because you still haven’t found a spot in daycare or because you’ve decided to be a full-time mom, keeping your child at home has its advantages, but also its challenges.

Whether it’s because you still haven’t found a spot in daycare or because you’ve decided to be a full-time mom, keeping your child at home has its advantages, but also its challenges.

A child’s environment and experiences influence her development. If she doesn’t attend daycare, her family is her only environment. It’s therefore up to the parent to provide the child with a variety of stimulating activities.

Stay-at-home mom Mylène had no trouble finding activities to offer her daughter Elisabeth. “I follow her interests. We do things together. She helps me with chores like vacuuming, folding clothes or washing dishes. We look at pictures and talk about them. We play outside. When I garden, Elisabeth likes to play in the sandbox.”

Daily activities with mom and dad are opportunities for preschoolers to interact with their environment. Putting things away allows your child to learn how to sort objects by category, and cooking introduces your child to quantities. An outing to the supermarket is an opportunity to learn about making choices, look at numbers or even practice motor skills, if you get your child involved in placing the items into your shopping cart.

Stay-at-home parents have access to lots of books and Web resources for ideas on how to stimulate their young child’s development.

Meeting your child’s need to socialize, on the other hand, may seem a little more difficult. With smaller family units, young children at home sometimes have less opportunity to play with other children. But it’s very important for children to socialize during early childhood. By playing with friends, your little one develops her motor skills and her ability to share and express emotions.

According to Nathalie Bigras, “Socialization should take place in quality locations where children can meet other children. Drop-in daycare centres or activities offered nearby at your local library or family centre, for example, give young children the opportunity to learn to adapt to group rules. Going to such places a few times a week will get children used to interacting with other children their age.”

It’s therefore quite possible to offer a highly stimulating environment even to a stay-at-home child. “At the beginning, I wasn’t too sure,” remembers Mylène. “But keeping my daughter at home was the best choice for our family. Our schedule is more flexible now, and I can respect her rhythm. I have the chance to watch my daughter grow and I know she’s doing really well.”