My Preschooler Does Not Nap - My Preschool Wants Her Too.

Updated on August 30, 2011
A.K. asks from Kingwood, TX
43 answers

My 3 year old, has not napped in a while, she does not take any form of quiet time either, she is go go go, from 6am til 9pm.
She is also extremely active, and vocal, but listens pretty well.
I was a bit apprehensive because I knew they had a 2 hour nap time, and of course I told them she would more than likely not nap, but she may play quietly.
It turns out they are not allowed to play quietly, they have to lie on their nap mats, asleep or not for 2 hours, staring at the ceiling, not talking.
This is impossible for my daughter, and today, her first day, they said she sobbed for 1 and a half hours, calling for Mom and Dad, and then finally cried herself to sleep for the last 30 mins.
I had asked them to maybe rock her, or read to her, but they said they can't do that as they have 13 other kids to see to.
This preschool came highly recommended, is this normal? that they have to just lie there?
I am not too happy.

What can I do next?

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answers from Dover on

It is reasonable to require quiet time...can't force a kid to actually sleep but the naptime is a good time to let them have the rest period they all need. My daughter never liked to nap but she would lay quietly. Eventually, she started napping. She is now 4.5.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son has Adhd, has shown signs early on for it as well as a sleep disorder, he would NOT nap at daycare except for days they did water play before nap and things to the exhausting level. Nor would he sit still (still does not) so, they may him teacher's helper in one of the other classes with older kids or a class that had nap time already. He would go to the other class and hand out snacks, craft items, "put papers away" in the office etc. On shredder days they would ask him to draw a line on the ones they were going to shred one of the older school age kids got to do the shredding part because he was a late pick up kid so my son "prepped" the papers - no red line no shred! Any how, they need to find a way to accomodate that issue you can not force a child to sleep/sit still.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I wouldn't like that either. I understand they have a lot of kids to attend to, but aren't most of them asleep? Did she just start school or has she been to school/daycare before? I know it was hard on my daughter when she started daycare at 13 mos for 3 days/week. But the teachers did a great job of holding and rocking her and not just leaving her to cry. It took a while, but they eventually got her to fall asleep while holding her, and another teacher would put the mat under her and they would slowly lower her to the floor. :) If they just set her on the mat she would wake up. They should not just tell you 'sorry you're out of luck'! It's their job to take care of the kids and it seems unreasonable for them to ask what they are asking of both her and you. They need to step up and do their jobs! And they should be well aware of the differences between children, even on such a simple thing as some napping and some not. They need to be more accomodating, in my opinion.

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answers from St. Louis on

well, they told you their nap policy & you still chose their facility. As a daycare provider, I's not possible to rock your daughter, read to her....that would disrupt the other children. When dealing with multiple children, you always have to go with the "greater good"....which means that your child will not be catered to. In this case, the "greater good" is that naptime has to be considered sacred & peaceful for the room. Does it make the daycare a bad provider...I don't think so...

On the other hand, to allow a child to cry for that length of time...that is disturbing. But what else were they going to do? Any form of play would disrupt 13 other kids....not fair to them. My recommendation is to start practicing this "quiet time" skill at home.

Naptime is important, & in our school district's KG....quiet time is enforced for the 1st semester. It is not an option, it is a requirement. Kids have to remain on their mat for the 90 minute period. You might want to check with your school district & see what their policies are. This may be a goal your child needs to work toward!

& moving onto the question: is this normal? Yes, it is. For daycares, naptime is their downtime for their staff. That's when the # ratios can be played with....where the director steps in to "cover" while the staff takes lunch breaks. It's a planning period for the teachers....& it's flat-out quiet time for all.

If you check the state guidelines, then "yes" naps are a part of daycares.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If this preschool is so inflexible about this, what else are they inflexible about?

If they can't deal with, or comfort, or find an alternative quiet activity for one child "because we have 13 other children to deal with," what else are they NOT doing to make individual children feel comfortable and comforted "because we'd have to do it for everyone if we do it for you"?

If you feel you must stay there, I'd pay close attention to other ways in which they might be inflexible or ways in which they might fail to find out what each individual child needs. This is preschool, not high school, and they need to learn about each child's habits and needs and routines.

Did you tell them before today that your daughter no longer naps? If you did warn them, and they didn't have something else like books ready for her, they need to start listening to parents. If you did not tell them before her first day today, you need to tell them tomorrow. Don't just grab the teacher or director as kids are being dropped off; that's too hectic a time and you won't have anyone's real attention. Say, I am going to stay until after drop-off because I need to sit down and talk with you privately for a while about an issue we had with Sally's day here yesterday, and then do just that -- ensure it's a sit-down talk and they give you sufficient time, and don't hustle you out the door. They may try to say "Oh, she'll nap eventually:" but you know she won't, so tell them they need to figure out a quiet alternative like books on her cot, as other posters here have recommended.

At least they told you exactly what happened today. Some preschools might just have chosen not to tell you about her crying and calling for you so it's good that they did so. I'd give them a longer chance and not leave over this one day's events but I'd keep tabs on how flexible they are or aren't about working with your daughter on this, other than ordering her to stare at the ceiling for two solid hours each day.

Two hours for nap sounds very long to me unless she's there ALL day, like from 8 until 6 or whatever.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

That sounds unnaturally cruel! I worked in daycare and we often had kids that didn't want to nap. The kids were given nap cots through age 4, and some 3 and 4-year olds did not nap. The rule was they had to stay on their cot quietly, we gave them books to look at, quiet toys to play with or pages to color. Often I would go sit with the non-nappers and color with them because it's boring for the staff too! We placed the non-nappers in a corner so that they would not be disturbing the nappers. The favorite non-napper toys were the finger puppets. You can easily lie on a cot and play with finger puppets.

I think maybe this daycare center is not for you. HOWEVER, many kids cry a lot on their first day, and while that's not an excuse for letting her cry for over an hour, perhaps the staff thought it was because she was new, not because she doesn't nap.

I would still look for a new place. I wouldn't want my child in that situation!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like the preschool is not a good fit for your daughter. Highly recommended or not, their 2 hour rule sucks. Get her out of there and into one that suits her better. Do it today. GL


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Joplin on

I am recently back to work in a Daycare/preschool. I also worked many years ago at a La Petite, and both the La Petite and the Preschool I work at now have nap.
I also am in a room that is age "3"
What I can tell you is the way we play and interact at school is probably a lot different than the play she would have at home...when it comes to nap time, my age 3 kids are worn out and NEED a nap.
That being said...if I routinely had a child that flat out did NOT sleep at all, as long as they stayed on their cot quietly until others had a chance to fall asleep I would see no reason why a child would not be allowed to sit and look at books quietly or even sit and color.
I do pat backs for kids that have a difficult time falling asleep. I can sit between two cots and pat two backs at a time.
I usually have 12 cots in my room, and maybe 3 or 4 that have trouble falling asleep.
I know my own son had not napped in almost a year, I returned to work this past week and he is already sleeping at nap time with the rest of the kids. If he did not play as hard at recess he would not be tired. Most Kindergartens do require a nap time if they are all it is something to think about.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I am with Betsy. Our daughter was in day care and at around 31/2 she did not nap, but they allowed the kids to lay on their mats and look at books.

Daycare is a non stop active place and usually the kids are wiped out.

Either speak with your daughter about how she needs a rest.. Or ask her to please lay quietly so everybody else can rest. I would also ask if she is allowed to look at books while laying on her mat.

But in the mean time look for a different daycare if you think this is not a good match.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry - when I worked for Kindercare - children were allowed to "read" on their cots...for them not being able to hold her because they have 13 other kids - sorry - it's her first day - they needed to do something for her....the fact that she sobbed would drive me insane.

To EXPECT a child to stare at the ceiling for 2 hours?! NO FRICKING WAY!!!!

I would be livid that she had to cry herself to sleep...they will most likely use this to say "see - she DOES nap during the day"...

The fact that your daughter is "GO GO GO" - have you had her tested for ADD - not to label her - but to help her get tools so that she can focus on something and not get distracted?

I would look for other pre-schools that are more willing to work with you and your daughter. That they didn't do anything - just does not sit right with me.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ummm, you might want to check with your state's licensing body to see if that is ok. Here in IL, if the child does not sleep, the care facilities are not allowed to mandate that they stay on their cot/mat. They are supposed to be given alternative quiet activities. (My sister runs 2 large daycare centers and has told me this.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My SD used to make up stories with her barrettes (she still talks about this) because she gave up naps long before preschool. But that was a 1 hour nap. My DD also naps only sometimes and hardly ever for 2 hours. I think that either they need to acknowledge this and let her read or play quietly for that time or perhaps move her to a different class where they don't need to nap. We had "nap time" in kindergarten, too, and I rarely ever slept. Just lay there quietly.

Highly recommended does not = right for your child.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

That is UNreasonable, for a preschool to expect.
MOST preschools, have quiet time for kids that cannot nap.
Kids, are NOT 'statues.'
They are simply not.

A friend of ours, had a child that went to a Preschool like that. They were always calling her about her child, because although quiet, she would not and could not, nap.
This school was very RIGID.
And she then, took her child out of that school, and found a better one.

Kids are NOT statues.
And to expect that to happen, is really irrational.

That school's nap time is 2 hours.
HOW the heck, can a child that age just lie there, not moving and not making sounds???

Find another school.

Preschools are different styles. Rigid or more flexible and nurturing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

That doesn't seem right. In our three's class everyone had to lay down on their
nap mats at the same time. The shades were drawn, quiet, lullaby type music was played and the teachers sat down on the floor and alternated rubbing the children's backs to help them relax (only some kids liked a back rub.)
Not all the children would sleep. Those who couldn't fall asleep were sent down the hall to the "active" room where they were allowed to play with quiet toys like puzzles, play doh and beads.
I'm sorry, I know naps are good for children but if she's forced to lay there for two hours she's going to hate going to school. I'd start looking for something else :(

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I own a childcare center and yes we do prefer the children to nap, however sitting and listening to a child cry for that long on her first day IS WRONG!!! In NJ state law requires a rest time, however if a child is not sleeping in 30 minutes they should be either permitted to get up and do a quiet activity or rest on their cot and look through books. My staff and myself included if help is needed (especially the first week or so as children adjust) will sit on the floor and rub backs to help the children relax and fall asleep. We also play soft music. I know each state has different laws but I would check on it and find out what the resting requirements are. It doesn't matter what the center wants to do, if it is against the requirements set by the state they have to comply. Most centers will require children to rest, so I do not think you will find a center who doesn't, however having a child cry themselves to sleep is mean, (especially their first day!!) and I would not want my child in that type of environment. Check out the laws and then meet with the director if you plan on staying at this center to come up with a better plan for your child. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I think rest time for kids this age is vitally important. My rule at my house is that if kids don't want to sleep they must rest quietly so that other kids can rest too. I do make them be in a quiet room for an hour before I let them get up to play quietly. Most times they fall asleep because they really need it.

I have dealt with lots of kids and parents. I find that many times parents let nap time end at an early age because either it doesn't fit in with their lifestyle of having to set aside nap time and be home during that timeframe, or their kids go on a sort of nap "strike" (around 2 or 21/2) and start fighting it so the parents think that they no longer need them. I am not saying that you fall into either of these situations, but I am guessing that your preschool is testing the waters with your daughter. Many times parents tell me that their kids no longer nap and I say "well, in a different environment with different stimulation, and when all of the other kids do, she might. Let's see how it goes..." I don't have the luxury of space to have a couple kids up while everyone else is napping. Everyone has their policies around napping, and if they aren't flexible it may not be a good match.

But this sounds like a center preschool? I would think that they have accommodations for kids that take shorter naps or no nap. While I've seen most kids keep a nap schedule until about age 4, it usually has to be shortened to about an hour and a half so it doesn't disrupt their (night) bedtime.

I'd be upset if they just left her there to cry. I understand that they can't rock her or read to her, but I've rubbed kid's backs or sat close to them if they were upset... especially on the first day. Good luck... you may have to find a new situation :(

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Honestly, it sounds like maybe it's just not a good fit your your DD. Some places may allow for quiet time, some may not. Some may require naps, some may not. I say, look around until you find one that fits your DD's needs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Yikes. The two schools my girls have attended want kids to nap, but if it's obvious a child can't after thirty minutes or so, the teachers get the child up for quiet play. And there are a couple of kids who never nap. They're asked to rest quietly while the others fall asleep and then they can get up. I think you need to talk to the school about how they can accommodate your daughter better. Two hours is a long tme to lie there bored.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

I think 2 hours is a LONG time to lay on a mat and be quiet if you are not sleeping! I don't know if I could do it myself! I think she should be allowed to play quietly or look at books or something. If this was my child I would be very uncomfortable with this and I know that preschool is so expensive, so what's the point in paying for 2 hours of torture? I like what Queen of the Castle said about checking to see if they are even allowed to do that!

My son quit napping very early and they didn't do nap time at his Kindergarten, which I was grateful for.

Good for you, follow your gut Mommy! That's a long time! Poor kiddo!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

WOW. That is TERRIBLE! I have actually looked up the licensing requirement for my state on napping. Here schools and daycares must offer a quiet activity for non-nappers and cannot require that kids stay "in bed".
My daughter naps on some days, but mostly she does not. They actually have a little table set up for the non-nappers to get up and draw or color or play puzzles.
I would talk to the teacher or the director again about how to handle your child during nap) maybe the teacher did not know that she was a non-napper? Some kind of miscommunication? What are the licensing requirements in your state?
If they are not willing to make it work for your child, I would pull her ASAP.

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answers from Philadelphia on

i have found this to be the norm.... we fought with our day care for two years to give a quiet time option. The most we got is books. Plus it created a horrible cycle. he would eventually fall asleep... most people will tired or not after 2 hours doing nothing! so then he was up late... and cranky when we woke him up in am. So he was tired at nap time... this slowly got longer for nap time through the week. then weekend was back to no nap... and started all again on monday.....
I understand that they use it to move teachers around for luches, and so forth but when MOST of the class no longer wants/requires a nap it is just unfair. There has to be a happy medium that can be found...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bellingham on

It is not fair for her to cry for 1 1/2 hours and then fall asleep because she cried so hard. I never could do the cry it out at night so I know I wouldn't want my child to do it at school. See if she can be in an area that she can look at books, play quietly, etc since she doesn't take naps any more. If not there are a lot of other great preschools for her to go.

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answers from Dallas on

That's mean. It's totally normal for a 3 yr old to stop needing naps. My first stopped at about age 3, and two others stopped in their 2's. I'm meaning this to come across nicely to you...just not so nicely to them....I think it's absolutely ridiculous that they expect a 3 yr old to nap if she is done with them.

THEY should have another area for children who are past needing naps to play. It is not your responsibility to make your daughter take naps again, and I would NOT allow them to make her lay on the mat and cry for 1.5 hours. That would actually make me more than furious at them. It sounds more like they are lazy and want to have a two hour break and your daughter is making that not possible for them. And, honestly, if they are that selfish and heartless in making a little kid stay on a little stop for two hours, there's no way I'd let them take care of my child. That's MEAN.

That's so beyond ridiculous. And it's not fair to your little girl. I would have a serious talk and consider removing my daughter from there if they don't change how they do things.

Perhaps this is normal with preschools (I've never heard that), but I still think it's mean and ridiculous.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I know how frustrating this can be. My 3 year old loves her naps, but her cousins, who go to the same daycare center never nap. The director of the daycare explained to my SIL that the two hour "forced nap" is per state guidelines. In order for them to maintain state approved status, they have to abide by certain rules, and this is one of them (for our state - maybe for yours too?) Is there anyway they could allow her to listen to an Ipod during naptime?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

It sounds as thought this preschool is just not a good fit for your family. For some 3 year olds, a 2 hour nap is perfectly normal, while others won't sleep a wink. I would suggest finding another place, one that either has less mandatory mat time or optional naps. My niece went to a day care in which she was patted on the back by one of the instructors if she had a hard time falling asleep. Or, maybe you can look for one that will allow her to read or do something else while still laying down. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my son listens to books on tape (winnie the pooh, etc.) during his quiet time (at home). maybe you could give her a little mp3 player with headphones so she could listen and not disturb the other kids. she might even fall asleep listening. I'm not sure if they'd permit this, but just an idea...
good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

2 hours is way too long. "Forced" naptime is common but my kids were never expected to lay still, wide awake for 2 hours! That sounds like torture. She should be able to lay quietly and look at books for 1/2 and hours or so. I'd look into another preschool.

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answers from Anchorage on

2 hours seems really excessive for a forced nap. NO body wants to just lay there for 2 hours doing nothing. I would consider a new center if they will not work with you on this.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

The state requires all children under Kindergarten age to have that time of rest. It is a requirement to keep their license. They should allow her to do something quiet on her mat though. If the other kids see her they will want to do it too so it has to happen after the other kids are asleep.

I had one girl who came from another center. She had not napped in a year. I had her lay down and did not let her get up and play, after 2-3 days she laid down and went to sleep every day. I talked to the directer of the old center and they had basically "let her go" due to keeping other children awake. I didn't do anything different. I just told her she had to rest for a while.

As sad as it may seem to you, kids that age need to sleep a lot of hours per day and they simply cannot sleep 12-14 hours through the night. He will continue to have to lay down at any child care situation he goes to and even in Kindergarten for the first part of the year.



answers from College Station on

This sounds really rigid to me, but you need to give it some time. If she is still this way after 2 weeks, then talk to the director. You may want to pick her up at nap time instead of the regular dismissal time.


answers from Medford on

Id check and see what the state laws say about nap time for how many hours she is in school. Some laws state after a certain ammount of time, they have to give them a place to sleep or stay quiet, but I dont know how long. It sounds miserable for her to lie there for 2 hours. No wonder she cried. Im all for kids napping but some just dont and there needs to be some other way to handle it for her. It sounds to me as if the school doesnt want to deal with kids for long so they force them to into naps. Id be looking for some other preschool or daycare. Maybe private in home daycare.



answers from Minneapolis on

Honestly, that sounds cruel. A lot of 3 year olds don't nap. I'm a firm believer that you cannot force someone to sleep. They should at least give her some small quiet toys, coloring, picture, or reading books on her mat. Even then 2 hours is a very long time for a 3 year old to stay quietly in one space. I would be OK if they did that WITH allowing her quiet reading for play for one hour, but not two.



answers from Victoria on

totally normal. they do things as a group not on a one on one basis. the two hours seems a bit long to me but the everyone must have nap time and not play time is totally normal. you might be able to find a home daycare that is more hands on but out home daycare was the same about nap time. it dose not make much since to allow one child to play while the others have to have a nap.



answers from Houston on

My daughter's school has a 2 hour quiet time and they are supposed to lie down quietly there too. She usually naps at school pretty well, but does not for me on the weekends. However, when they do wake up, they are allowed to get up and play quetly or "read" books so they don't disturb the other kids. She is almost 2 1/2.



answers from San Antonio on

Yes, it's normal. But if you ask around you might find a place that would consider accommodating her somehow. I would worry less about the "high recommendation" and more about the "good fit for my child." If my child were not a napper, as someone else said, he/she would learn to hate school. My daughter has always been a napper (she comes home wiped out from 1st grade--it's her first time not napping). However my son, who is 3, is the first child awake from nap. So, someone at his school has to start supervising kids well before the 2 hours is up, even when he was in the 2-year-old class last year. And, they've never complained to me about that. I didn't even KNOW he wasn't sleeping for 2 hours until I asked them their advice about his well-child appt--the office would only see him earlier in the day and I'd have to pick him in the middle of nap, which is not supposed to be allowed. They said, no problem, he's up anyway. I had no idea! (At home he gets up early, but I didn't know they allowed it at school.) I would find a school that offers some flexibility.



answers from Austin on

2 hours seems excessive. We had a 30 minute naptime/quiet time. Good luck!



answers from Houston on

This sounds kind of ridiculous to me even though many people were saying it is the norm - which is sad. I know that most kids will still take long naps at that age, but guess what - some don't take any naps at that age, like your child. I only have a 15 month old right now. But I was at the doctor's office for her well check-up talking about how she doesn't nap that much. He said, she might just be one of those kids that by the time they're 2 years old they don't nap anymore because it could disrupt their nighttime sleep. So I don't see why you should force a child into napping. If they're generally happy and alert all day long, they shouldn't need a nap. I can understand trying to transition her into quiet time - but even 2 hours of quiet time seems a little excess to me. Just putting her on a cot and leaving her for 2 hours seems awful. I would change schools even if it was highly recommended :(



answers from Denver on

I think they are out of bounds with their requirements. Not all children nap. Perhaps you and your daughter would be happier with another facility?? best wishes!



answers from Austin on

If you google "Is preschool necessary?" you will find that there are many who agree that it is not. There are many other ways to give your child experiences with other children and adults that don't require them at such a young age to conform to a schedule that doesn't fit. I agree with the poster who said that you don't want her to hate school. I would pull her out and find fun ways to get together with other kids.



answers from Houston on

Hi Allison-I grew up in The Woodlands and now live in Cypress, not too far from Kingwood and I have had three kids go through preschools/MDO in Cypress. All my kids were allowed to read books or have quiet time on their mat or at a center, never were they forced to lay down or cry for one minute because they didn't want to rest. That's absolutely ridiculous and if the Director of the Preschool thinks your child should have to cry herself to sleep, I'd pull her out immediately! There are too many fantastic preschools in our area to put up with that kind of issue, law or not!



answers from Houston on

This is normal.

My daughter is 3 and she has been attending a Catholic school since she was 3 months old.

Correct me if I am wrong but I assume this is the first time your child has been in any type of day care/school setting and she is not use to it. Believe me the teachers are not being mean and if it was highly recommended, there is some rhyme and reason to it.

My daughter sleeps for about 1.5 hrs and lays there for the last 30 minutes.

I do know in elementary school PreK-4 and Kindergarten, they have the same type of nap time. I am not sure if it is the same length of time.

Stick with it. I promise your daughter will get use to the routine.


answers from Beaumont on

My daughter would not nap either. She was attending Montessorri in the morning and was expected to nap in the afternoon while they had another group come in. I had to pay double for her to be able to attend in the afternoon also. She just was not a napper. None of my three kids did more than maybe 30 min. I personally would not want a preschool that spent that much time napping. I know day cares do, but a preschool? Can you have someone pick her up after lunch? My younger two attended half a day preschools.



answers from Houston on

As a former daycare worker I can tell you that yes this is the norm, but if this is not working for you then I would strongly suggest you look for a hoe daycare in your are. Make sure to check references and visit, but I know many moms who have great experiences with home daycare. It's perfect for situations like yours. Then once she gets a bit older (4-5) she won't have to nap, most centers allow the 4 and 5 years olds to do a quiet activity.

I do disagree that they can't rock or cuddle your child, to me that is not acceptable. Regardless of how many children they have, they must cater to the child's needs, and if all 13 needed to be rocked or cuddled then guess what? They would have to do that. My guess is they don't want to because this nap time is the teachers down time too. Though they remain in the room with the children, usually they can get some work done, chat or relax. I have had many kids like your daughter, and always cuddled, patted their backs, sung to them etc. Anything to calm them down and get them to rest. I also would not be happy if I were you it doesn't sound like they are taking any steps to help your daughter adjust. Talk to the director. If you go to this web site, you can get all kinds of info on what daycares are supposed to do according to the law:

Good luck! I hope it works out for you!

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