By “J”, a Child Care Center Director
For the safety and security of the children and to provide a “real” perspective on child care, “J” has chosen to remain anonymous….for now.
Summer is upon us and for a lot of center directors in the area it leads to one question: to pool or not to pool. When creating that fun filled jammed packed summer calendar you have to decide early, are my kids going to go swimming this summer? Parents expect great fieldtrips, more importantly parents expect trips worthy of that lovely $200 activity fee. So when you’re calling museums, local pizza shops, and entertainers that sing silly songs and do magic tricks-in the back of your mind you are still pondering the pool question.
It’s a small daycare world so you hear about other cheaper summer camps who are going to the pool three times a week. Parents stop by the office to ask how you will incorporate “water” into the summer curriculum (true story). The kids who plan on attending the summer camp ask daily, hourly, every minute “we going swimming?”.
Why is it so hard to decide you ask? Several reasons. Field trips, swimming or not, require extra staff. Pools require a higher level of monitoring than watching kids in a large classroom. The pool’s lifeguards are often sophomores returning home from college who are underpaid and over attentive to their phones. Locker rooms require staff to help kids change and make sure they aren’t staring at the 85 year old naked man in the corner. Highest on the pool worry list is drowning. When I first got into the childcare field in northern Virginia there were 4 deaths (at local surrounding daycares) due to drownings in one summer. The deaths were due to children who were left unattended or lost in the mass of children who take over the pool in the summer. This for me was the catalyst for alternative thinking. What can we do for water fun that does not involve trips to the pool? Water balloon fights, super soaker challenges, maybe even dunk the director…maybe.
I find summer to be a true test of creativity, what can we do to keep those school-age kids busy and parents glad they paid an activity fee. In my experience the best summers do not involve going swimming a few times a week, they do involve very attentive summer camp teachers and a grand imagination. With family trips planned and weekends with no homework families find plenty of time to take their kids to the pool.
This year when we originally planned the summer calendar we had pool dates and with every week getting closer to June 22nd, I peeled them off one by one as we added more non-water adventures to the summer tally. As a center director I take the safety of my students seriously and often I choose safety over “funness”. This led to many conversations with parents explaining my thoughts, fears, and overall vision for the center’s summer. These conversations are hard at times but anything is easier in this field then explaining to a parent their child was injured in some form or fashion. Summer is fun and thankfully fun has a deep vast array of options.