Days take care of themselves
That’s the catchy, one line explanation for why we call it child care and not daycare. The word “daycare” does not honor the work that is being done. With or without care, the days will be just fine.
It goes beyond this pithy explanation, though. Words have meaning. Words are powerful. You can gauge a lot about a society’s attitude towards something by the language they use.
So what does “daycare” convey? Daycare implies that children are passive. It conjures an image of kids being managed and herded through their day. It assumes a low skill profession where paraprofessionals simply keep children alive.
But we know too much about how important the first five years of life are for a child’s brain development. A child needs and deserves a nurturing and developmentally appropriate environment. A child thrives on positive interactions with caring adults. A child requires care and stimulation, and that is anything but passive.
The environment for this care is one that is deliberately created by a professional who is observing, interacting, thinking, and planning. This is intentional work and it requires knowledge and skill. Caring for children requires the dedication of early care and education professionals.
Parents need care for their children during the day so that they can work. You could say parents need daycare. But that’s not what professionals do. Professionals do child care. They nurture children, they ignite their curiosity, they feed their independence, and they help them grow into themselves. That’s so much more than just daycare.