Will putting your child with special needs in daycare be a good experience or potentially harmful?
For many kids, putting them in daycare is an experience that helps them learn to be social, teaches them how to properly interact with adults, and helps them adjust to a schedule outside the home. If you're the parent of a child with special needs, you know that doing your research first is always a good idea.
And you're in luck, because we're going to look at the benefits of daycare in this article, as well as things to potentially look out for.
Benefits of Daycare
Is daycare for special needs children a good fit? How can they benefit from it? Here are five benefits to consider.
1. Regular Schedule
For all kids—heck, adults too—a schedule makes life easier. And the truth is, having the same schedule day after day is actually good for the development of your child.
In fact, one study showed that kids who had a regular schedule benefitted from developing more both socially and emotionally. Depending on your son or daughters needs, this might be exactly the reason you're considering putting them in daycare. The science behind it seems to work out in your favor.
2. Another Caring Adult
Any child (and their parents) can benefit from the trust or bond formed with another caring adult. At a daycare facility, your children learn how to listen and take direction from another adult, which can help them prepare for school or extracurricular activities down the road.
At a good daycare center, the adults working with your child will be specially trained. You may even find by contacting the center that certain staff or programs are designed for children with special needs specifically.
3. Learning To Play With Others
Your child is going to benefit from being around other kids in a structured (and sometimes loose) environment. Depending on his or her specific needs, this play or socialization time might actually be beneficial down the road. This of course depends on your goals and long-term plans for schooling.
If you're hoping to go the inclusive route (sending your child with special needs to a a regular school), this time around other kids will pay off in the long-term.
4. Benefits For The Parent
Raising children is not easy. While you probably came across this article with your youngster in mind, the truth is that one benefit to sending your child to daycare is that it gives parents more free time and frees up their mental energy for other tasks, like work or projects around the house.
Your child will benefit in the long run from this, because you'll be able to give them 100% of your time and energy when you are around them. For both of you, daycare might be a win-win.
Things To Consider
There are some things to consider when it comes to special needs child care. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Do Your Research (and Take Your Time)
Not all daycare centers are created equally, so it will benefit you and your child if you take some time to decide where you might potentially send them. In fact, as part of your strategizing for this potential move, we recommend you visit at least two centers. This way, you can learn what you like at each and at least have another place in mind if option A does not work out.
It is unlawful for a childcare center to refuse a child with a disability. But that doesn't mean every place is the right place for you and your family.
Inclusive or Special Needs Center?
There are benefits and drawbacks depending on where you'd like to send your child. If you send your son or daughter to an all-inclusive daycare center, it might take some time for them to adjust socially or emotionally. On the other hand, a special needs center may be easier to adapt to, but won't give them the diverse exposure to other kids that offers so many of the benefits we've already talked about.
Going back to the first tip, it might be best to research both types of daycare centers and make several visits. This way you can make the most informed choice about what's right.
Talk To Your Doctor
Besides talking it over with spouse (and maybe your child), it might be best to consult your doctor regarding daycare centers. For example, if your child has a hearing disability, they might be able to give you advice based on other family's experiences. At the very least, they can give you things to look out for.
Or, like with our facility, we have a medical director that's able to build a customized plan for you and your child. This is not the status quo in terms of daycare for a special needs child.
When it comes to considering the benefits of daycare for your special needs child, there is a lot to consider. Yes, your child can benefit from the socialization, structures, and exposure to new adults and experiences that a quality daycare center can provide.
On the other hand—and this won't any sort of "aha!" moment to you—it will serve to do your research. Each child is an individual case, so seek out places that are more than happy to answer questions and sit down with you for comprehensive visits. Anywhere that isn't willing to do this shouldn't be an option.
Contact us with questions about your child. We're excited to hear from you!