There is one woman I turn to as a mother of a preschooler. Debbie Ficarra has been the proud owner of a preschool for 13 years. And boy, does she know everything about everything.
As a preschool assistant teacher, I’ve also learned techniques on keeping preschoolers happy by watching Ficarra at her fine establishment, La Cañada Preschool in California. She is always pleased to assist the parents. Married, single, divorced, separated… they are all there. All aimed at increasing the feeling of love for the little ones.
Prior to becoming a mother to three daughters, Ficarra gained her childhood education, acquiring her AA in Child Development and BA and Masters in Human Development. She also took the required coursework for a degree in Marriage and Family. Ficarra then purchased La Cañada Preschool, which was a dream come true.
“Almost every school I went to, I felt as if there was a missing piece,” Ficarra said. “I wanted to provide what I thought was best for children.”
As a divorcee, and now newly married, Ficarra also knows about working through a divorce with young children. Her main goal in life – family and at work – is to provide the best environment for her preschool students that range between the ages of two and five.
Ficarra discussed the most common issue she sees for coParents of preschoolers.
“The first issue I tend to see is separation anxiety,” Ficarra explained. “One parent is taking the child to school, while another parent picks them up. For many children, this inconsistency or this sharing of their parents manifests itself in preschool with the days one parent will drop them off, as opposed to another parent, and/or different parents picking them off or dropping them off and picking them up.
“Separation for children at preschool tends to already be an issue as it is, but I think it is a little bit exasperated when they bring in their backpacks to school, coming from one house and going to another at the end of the day.
“I have a model that I would like to write about, talking about psychologists who have done studies showing that the best model to follow is when children stay in one place and the parents come and go.
“What I think is better for children is more of a consistent – one parent drops them off constantly, the other parent picks them up. Then their shared rights to the children occurs after school and it does not come into conjunction with school. I know that can be difficult for families.
“What I think we have taken out of the craziness is what’s best for the children. We tend to side on what is best for the parents.”
Story and photo by Lori Denman-Underhill