10 Things I Learned While Working in a Daycare

Talitha Koum Daycare

Last semester I was in a class called Poverty in Waco where the majority of our grade was calculated by the number of hours we spent volunteering in the community. Our professor offered us a list of organizations that worked with homeless people, people in nursing homes, and children in low income areas, and I chose to work with…the children. Can you believe? Out of all the nonprofits with whom I could have spent my time, I picked a therapeutic daycare for at-risk babies called Talitha Koum. After my summer spent working with elementary school kids and high school boys, I grew a small–I repeat, SMALL, fondness for tiny humans that I haven’t been able to shake. It’s terrifying! There’s even a smaller part of me that’s thinking about possibly teaching for a while, either in a daycare similar to the one I worked at over the past year, or in a middle school. WHO HAVE I BECOME?? This is a confusing time in my life, please be gentle. I worked in the one-year-old classroom with the same five behbehs since they were 11 months until now as they reach their second birthdays. And I just adored them! There’s something strange about wanting children to like you and knowing that you’ll do anything for them even when they’re crying and pooping and being completely helpless. Ugh. I love them. Anyway, I learned a lot over the past 10 months working in the daycare and I thought I’d share how the babies changed me and made me feel more maternal than I ever have been, or ever will be in my life! (PS no, this doesn’t mean I will ever want to birth a child, but foster care is a huge possibility!)

  1. Babies can be extremely funny! One of my favorite boys loved sleeping and eating and hated waking up (sounds just like me, right?) and he often fell asleep into his snacks while he was eating them. I loved seeing him pout when we woke him up and slowly pass out in his chair with food in his mouth. Who knew babies could be funny?
  2. They’re smarter than they look. They figured out how to use different tools in the classroom and often played with our phones when they were out despite not learning the proper ways of handling said objects.
  3. Kids are just as moody as adults. This one wasn’t a huge shock as I’ve always cringed when I saw babies go from happy to instantly death scary in the past, but it’s true that kids have mood swings on par with the rest of us. Their mood swings, however, come with dripping snot and flying limbs.
  4. They can be talked to without using baby voices. I don’t know why we always talk to kids and pets in such high pitched, childish voices, but I loved watching the daycare teachers speak to each child in a calm and mature tone, which made the kids feel at ease and peaceful. I don’t care for adults talking down to the the babies as if they’re dumb, so I began speaking to them in the same way I would have talked to any other normal sized person.
  5. Stop and smell the roses. I know it’s a cliché, but the daycare kids reminded me that slowing down and appreciating all of the small simple things in life is a good thing! There was nothing I loved more than picking flowers for them on our walks and watching their wide eyes and big smiles as they played with each new and unfamiliar blossom.
  6. Structure is important. On the other hand, it’s equally important to invest in structuring time with children. The babies I worked with came from often dysfunctional households that weren’t always consistent, so they responded well to set schedules and rules they knew to follow.
  7. Kids grow so quickly! I know I only worked with them for 10 months, but in those months, the babies grew immensely both mentally and physically! When I started, they still had to be carried and rocked to sleep, but by my last day, they were running around and speaking in broken sentences. It’s amazing how fast they grow up (am I a grandma?).
  8. It’s easy to become attached to them. There was one little boy in my class who I just completely fell in love with and I looked forward to seeing him every week. I didn’t expect to instantly become attached to any of the kids, but watching them grow up and spending so much time with them made it easy to cling onto them and wish their growing slowed down.
  9. They love everyone easily and fully. Every day when we went on walks around the neighborhood, the kids wanted to wave at and talk to every person we saw. They reminded me that everyone is born with the ability and instinct to love others, no matter who they are or what they’re like, and I want to be just like that.
  10. Even I can be maternal! I never thought I had a maternal bone in my body (I’m still skeptical), but every time I walked into the classroom and the babies waved at me and wanted to hug me, I never wanted to leave them. Similarly, whenever they fell or cried, I wanted to carry them and kiss their hurt parts and never let them get hurt again. Who knew a bunch of little babies could have taught me this much about myself?