I've mentioned Joy's daycare before, and officially dubbed her daycare provider "Lynda," after Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame. Today I'd like to let you know why we, and Joy, are so incredibly blessed in her daycare situation.
I work a part-time schedule. For the first two years of Joy's life, we had a daycare-swap arrangement with another family from church, who had a little guy only two days older than Joy. But after two years of swapping, the other family was looking to reproduce again and found another arrangement that would better suit an expanding family, so we needed to find something else. By that point, we were well aware that Joy was "behind" developmentally, and she'd been getting Birth-to-Three services for several months. We knew that we'd need something special, and we found it from a personal referral from a Birth-to-Three therapist, who had heard about what Lynda had put together in her home.
Lynda mixes things up with her daycare kids in two ways. She deliberately assembles a mixed-age group of children, regularly taking in new babies who then grow into years-long clients! And she deliberately puts together a mix of special-needs and neurotypical kids. Right now the mix is about half and half.
This daycare is a model of inclusion on a day-to-day basis, and she makes it look so easy. It really hit me the other summer one time when I dropped Joy off late and everyone was already out in the front yard, playing in a little wading pool. Lynda had the one girl with the most intense challenges (non-verbal, not very mobile, among other things) sitting on the bench of a little picnic table pulled up to the edge of the pool, with her feet in the water. Lynda was playfully pouring water over this girl's legs and feet, to a response of big smiles, while simultaneously tracking and interacting in turn with the other kids around the pool and in and out of the water, and managed to seamlessly welcome me and Joy as we arrived.
Lynda's place is therapy-central some days, with itinerant therapists from Birth-to-Three and the school district in and out to work with their various kiddie-clients. Joy's summer speech therapist was only there once this summer, working mostly out of our home, but her response to just one session at Lynda's was "This place is therapy heaven!" Lynda is eager to learn from the therapists and also make suggestions -- she's not a therapist by background, but has practically made herself into one by observation and continuing education.
Oh, and did I mention the reports? Every day during nap-time, Lynda writes up three or four paragraphs on each kid, with detailed specifics on their activities. Most days those messages are e-mailed to a private online group we have set up for Joy-reports, so JoyDad and I get to see them at work (only on the busiest days do they get handwritten). We've got the school-district therapists turning in their reports that way too, and Lynda's are easily the equal of theirs.
To top it all off, this week Lynda let me trade Joy-days because of vacation and holiday. I ended up having a day at home all to myself, though I did share it with JoyDad, swooped down on his workplace and whisked him off to a restaurant lunch.
Yes, she does read this blog -- thanks so VERY much, Lynda / Wonder Woman!