USA - is daycare the same as nursery?(8 Posts)
This is weird as I actually already live in New York, and yet I'm having trouble finding out the answer. I have a 18 month old and if I were living back home in England I believe I could take her to nursery for a morning or 2 a week if I wanted. I think she would love it as she's very sociable and it would be great for me to have a couple of hours to myself. Here in New York it seems most people have a nanny which is not something i want, so is daycare the same setup as nursery here? I suppose I need someone who has had experience of both to answer this! Thank you.
Daycare is pretty much the same as far as activities and age groups go, though daycares often take infants from 6 weeks and children to 6 years thanks to short mat leave and late school entry.
Daycare places are rare as hens' teeth in some cities, and you have to pay. There is no such thing as free nursery (or free daycare) unless you fall into a very low income bracket.
I doubt many daycare places would be happy to accept a child for only two mornings per week or so because they might then have to turn away someone who wanted a place for the full week, or chance someone else arriving who wanted all the other hours your DD didn't want. They are businesses and they have rent to pay for their premises and staff to recruit and pay.
Daycare is very much for working families needing care for their children. Families where one parent is at home usually provide enrichment activities at a variety of places that run classes for toddlers and preschoolers - libraries, YMCA, some museums, music schools, etc. Families that want one on one care for their children while parents work hire a nanny or au pair. It's kind of not the done thing to send your child to a daycare if you are at home. Being able to spend time with your DCs and go to classes with them or just plain veg out with them when they are young is considered somewhere between a luxury and a privilege.
If you want a couple of hours to yourself, advertise for a babysitter in one of the many universities or even in a good high school - DD1 made a lot of money babysitting when she was in university in NYC. Many young American women spent their teen years babysitting and they are good at it - if you do this, you can ask for references, and be prepared to spend time phoning women in North Dakota or Chicago or Louisville - and many students like to connect with a family to babysit and might have a few daytime hours free, depending on their class schedule. Students who are far from home may especially like to see an actual home as opposed to a dorm, and a family, and little children can make a welcome break from roommates.
Mathanxiety has written a great post and I have little to say on the subject but my Paris friends who were in NY when their DC were little do not give positive feedback on NY daycare.
I live in jersey city so not far from you and have a 5 year old. Here we have drop offs which are usually from 9 to 11 or 12 and you pay for as many mornings as you want. They provide a mixture of free play, crafts, music etc and are aimed at mums who need a break and want the kids to socialize. My ds loved it. Not sure if there is anything like this where you are. Maybe check your local meet up group or just ask around...
You might want to check any church based daycares and they seem to be more flexible how many days they expect you go to. My friend sends her 3yo 2 days a week and her 4yo goes 4 days. They are also cheaper
At the private ones I had to send DC every day and if you're not working you have an opinion for shorter hours, wraparound care for working parents was slightly more expensive.
We also have drop in places, here there is one called adventure place. You can use them like a drop off babysitting service. Day or night, they'll feed them a meal and have activities. I've not used it, but my friend above does quite often.
With a church run preschool in the RC system, there is usually a parish school where families expect children to go for Kdg once their years in preschool are over. Places in RC preschool are often highly sought after because there is a hierarchy of applications when it comes time to register for Kdg, and sometimes you get priority after families with siblings already in upper grades if you are in the preschool.
Most preschools that are not 'daycare centers' will not expect full time attendance - you might go two to four mornings or afternoons per week. However, RC school preschools will probably require a full academic year commitment. Some will have a direct debit requirement to keep you current in tuition.
If you would prefer flexibility, then cobbling together sessions at different activities and/or finding a few daytime babysitters might be your best bet.
Not in NYC, but I sent DS to 8-week sessions of preschool in my local YMCA when he was 4. The beauty of the arrangement was that I booked only for the 8 week sessions I wanted, could skip the snowiest part of the winter, and the cost was very reasonable, with a good range of pleasant activities and a few field trips included. DS fell madly in love with his teacher, a young woman from London whose name was Miss Louise .
By and large, daycare here is not a patch on daycare in the UK. Preschools generally start with twos programs, and it's rare for the twos to run beyond nine until noon. If you do want your child to attend twos, you have apply to many programs, and from there there will be interviews and observational days. It's madness.
I can highly recommend Metropolitan Sitters if you do want a great babysitter. The sitters are all grad students, background checked, CPR trained etc. and always have experience working in children's camps and so on.
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