Our daughter has been in Parents’ Day Out (PDO) since she was 11 months old. I often get questions about PDO: “What is Parents’ Day Out?” “Is it a daycare or a school?” “What do you need to do to get enrolled?”
I’ve heard many parents from up North tell me that they don’t have PDOs and that it may just be a Southern thing? With the school year starting soon, and many older kids starting school again, I thought this was the perfect time to answer all these questions and more!
There are many PDOs around Memphis. The reason we picked ours (we chose Mullins PDO) was because of the proximity (it is about 8 minutes from our house), recommendations from other parents, and availability (they had spots available at the time). Most PDOs allow you to schedule a tour, so if you’re interested in one, you can set up a tour to see their facility beforehand. Most (if not all) PDOs are connected to churches. PDOs are registered (but not licensed) with the state of TN, and are generally only a few days a week.
I would say the main difference with a daycare or preschool is that they only allow you to register your child for a few days a week. If you work full-time or need more than 2-3 days, you may need to register your child at two or three PDOs. But it isn’t a licensed daycare. Also, most programs run from 9am-2pm, or somewhere in that range. So it is not quite a full day. Some programs (like ours) offer early room (where you can drop off your kid 30 minutes or an hour early) and aftercare, but not all programs do this. Most programs also offer extra-curricular activities on site, like soccer or dance classes.
Once you’ve selected a PDO, toured the facility, and confirmed their availability, you will usually need to fill out a registration/enrollment form, pay their registration fee, and give them updated shot records (yes, your child does need to be up to date on vaccinations, even for PDOs). Usually PDOs start their registration process as early as February of that year, so make sure you’re early in registering. PDOs accommodate kids as early as 6 weeks up to Kindergarten age. We chose Tuesday/Thursdays for our days because most holidays fall on a Monday, and PDOs are closed during those holidays. We do have some breaks where Nora doesn’t go – usually Spring Break, Summer Break and Fall Break, but they do offer camps during those times, so she still has the option of going if we really wanted her to.
Nora has always loved going to PDO. Other than the first week dropping her off, when she didn’t quite know where she was going yet, she has never cried with drop off and has always looked forward to going.
When Nora first started PDO, she was in the nursery class. She got to do lots of age-appropriate activities, and do typical baby/nursery-age things, such as taking naps, eating etc. In the nursery, she always got a sheet with what she did that day: when and what she ate, when she peed/pooped, when she napped etc. That was very helpful!
Right now, she is in the 2’s class (she turns 3 in September), and she has SO much fun! In the older class she is in now, we simply get a report from the teachers at the end of the day. They do have a curriculum they use, and Nora does learn a lot at ‘school’ (we call it school, so she can get used to going somewhere on a regular basis). The teachers follow a daily schedule that includes activity time, circle time, centers, arts and crafts, music, reading, manipulatives, manners, sharing, and basic life skills. When Nora gets to the older classrooms, they will also include science and math. We send our own snacks and lunches to PDO, so she can still get all the nutrients she would get at home. Most PDOs have the option to keep your child enrolled in the Summer, and they usually do some special activities, like water days during those times.
Since I’m only working very part-time right now (less than 15 hours a week), PDO is the perfect option for us for the time being. I get to have my own time from 9-2:30 every Tuesday & Thursday to go to appointments, clean the house, run errands, or sit at the coffee shop and relax/write/study (like I am doing right now!). There are so many things I can do by myself that are just easier to do without a busy almost 3 year old running around. And while I do those things, it give me peace to know that she receives quality, loving care while at PDO.
Whether you choose daycare, PDO, preschool, or another option for your child, do what works best for you and your family’s schedule. Hopefully you now have a better idea of what PDO is, what they do, and this will help you decide if this is something you might want to enroll your child in.