Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Praise of Awesome Daycare

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!


Niksmom said...

OMG! WHERE is this incredible woman and how do I get me one!? *sigh* You are sooooo lucky; butyou already know that! And "Lynda" -- if you read this-- in case you ever wonder if you are making a difference...YES YOU ARE! Keep up the awesome work.

Anonymous said...

It sure warms my heart to hear such wonderful details about the day care setting for my little niecey! Lynda sounds wonderful. I just have to tell you, though, that you could call yourself Lynda/Wonder Woman too, JoyMama! You do so many things like this and more for both of your girls, and with such calm and patience. Joy and Rose are both so fortunate to have the parents they have. I think it might not all be just luck and coincidence that you have found such a wonderful place for Joy to be, because I think you and JoyDad work hard at thinking about, researching, and finding what you feel is best for your girls. I know you face many struggles and tough times as parents, but I always feel such confidence and hopefulness that my nieceys are getting the best possible love and care from their parents! So, thank you to Lynda for the wonderful care she provides for Joy, and thank you to JoyMama and JoyDad for being the best parents to Joy and Rose!
Okay, enough of the "mushy" stuff!

Osh said...

Lynda is one of those angels we hear about walking on around oh wonderful

JoyDad said...

Lynda doesn't just take care of Joy, she takes care of Joy's parents as well...

I remember there was one period where Joy was throwing almost constant tantrums and fits, biting and scratching and crying and all kinds of carrying on. This went on for a week or more. I'm sure there are parents out there (and probably some readers of this blog) who have had to deal with far worse situations, but we were getting extremely frazzled by the constant struggle to try to keep Joy and those around her safe.

JoyMama must have looked pretty stressed, because Lynda said "You need a day off. Bring Joy here tomorrow (on what would have been a day where Joy was at home with JoyMama), don't even worry about paying me, just bring her and have the day to yourself."

Yes, we are truly blessed to have found Lynda!

Anonymous said...

WOW. Thank God for angels like Lynda. I know it does your heart good not to have a single worry when you leave your precious Joy with her!

Trish said...

All I can say is, Yay! and boy am I envious. I am so glad to be done with daycare and am hoping never to need it again!!