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0075 Getting Childcare

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 75 – Getting Childcare.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 75. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode.

Today’s podcast is going to be about getting childcare, or getting someone to take care of your children. Let’s go!

[start of story]

My friend Susan is an engineer, and she's also a single mom. She has been working some odd hours lately and was having a tough time finding childcare for her four-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old son.

Her daughter, Kimberly, is enrolled in a preschool, and Susan is able to drop her off on her way to work. But the preschool closes at 6:00 p.m., and sometimes Susan can't get there in time to pick her up.

Her son, Paul, is in the second grade and goes to a public school near their house. Paul gets out of school at 3:00 p.m., but Susan never gets off work before 6:00 p.m., and sometimes later.

So, what can she do with the kids after school? I went with Susan to check out a latchkey program at the local community center. It seemed like a good idea. Paul would be picked up from his school, and he could stay at the center to do his homework and to play in the center until as late as 7:00 p.m. The tuition was fairly low and there was rolling admission. The trouble was, there was very little supervision of the kids, and the staff seemed inexperienced.

Now, Susan is considering hiring a nanny. The nanny would pick both kids up from their schools and bring them home. The nanny could make dinner for them and stay with them until she got home. This would be ideal, but a good nanny is hard to come by and is very expensive to hire, even the ones who don't live in.

I don't envy Susan. Single moms – and dads – have it tough.

[end of story]

In this episode, we’re talking about “childcare” (childcare), which is when you have someone look after or take care of your children while you are working. I talk about my friend Susan, who is an engineer and a single mom. A “mom” is a mother, and a “single mom” is a mother who isn’t married. She could never have been married, or she could have divorced, or her husband could have died. In any event, she is on her own. She is a “single mom.”

This friend of mine “has been working some odd hours.” “To work odd (odd) hours” means to not work during the usual working hours, normally eight or nine o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the afternoon – those would be normal hours, or business hours. “Odd hours” would be if you had to work, for example, from ten o’clock at night until six o’clock in the morning. That might be considered working “odd hours.” Another use of that expression is when you do not have a regular schedule. For example, some days you work from eight o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon, other days from noon until eight o’clock at night, and so forth.

I say that Susan “was having a tough time finding childcare.” “Tough” here means difficult – Susan was having a difficult time finding childcare for her two children. “Her daughter, Kimberly, is enrolled in a preschool.” A “preschool” (preschool) – all one word – is what we call a school for young children especially between the ages of three to five. Sometimes preschools go a little younger than that, but normally it is for ages three to five. Here in the U.S., children go to preschool, and then when they finish preschool –usually around age five – they go into kindergarten, and after kindergarten they go into grade school: first grade, second grade, and so forth.

Preschool is optional; children don’t have to go to preschool. There are some people who like to keep their children at home because they can stay home to watch them, or who prefer to put them in some other program. Susan’s daughter, Kimberly, goes to a preschool, and Susan “is able to drop her off on her way to work.” “To drop off” means to leave someone or something at a certain place. “On her way to work” means somewhere between her house and her work. She can drop off her daughter at this preschool, which is located on her way to work.

“But the preschool closes at 6:00 p.m., and sometimes Susan can't get there in time to pick her up.” “In time” means before some deadline, before it is too late. “Did you get there in time?” means “Did you get there before it was too late?” So, for example, if a movie starts at 7:00 p.m., and you get there at 7:05 p.m., you didn’t get there in time. The movie already started.

Susan’s son, Paul, “is in the second grade and goes to a public school near their house.” In the United States, a “public school” is a school that the government operates, that the government runs. The opposite of a “public school” would be a “private school.” This is different than in British English.In Britain, the term “public school” means “private school,” so it can be very confusing. But in the United States, a “public school” or a “public” anything is usually something that the government operates. And in the United States, each school system is governed, or run, by a local school board – a group of people who are elected to run the school system in their area.

“Susan never gets off work before 6:00 p.m.” “To get off work” means to be finished with work. “I get off work at five” means I am done working at five. Susan and I went “to check out” or to investigate – “a latchkey program at the local community center.” A “latchkey (latchkey) program” is a program in which school-age kids can go to a special place after school and there’s someone there to take care of them until the parents come and pick them up, usually after five or six o’clock in the afternoon. This is called a “latchkey program.”

A “key” is what you open a door with, and the word “latchkey” refers to the key to the front or main door of a house. Here in the United States, the school day is usually over at around three o’clock in the afternoon, sometimes a little later, and many working parents don’t have a place for their children to go after school. So, for that hour or two hours before the parent can get home from work, a lot of children are on their own, and they have to use their key – their “latchkey” – to get into their house. Kids who do this are sometimes referred to as “latchkey kids.”

A “latchkey program” is a program where these kids can come together in one place where there are adults to take care of them. One place that may have a “latchkey program” is a “community center.” A “community center” is usually a government building in a neighborhood, or a section of a city, that different organizations can use for various things. Usually there will be a big room like an auditorium for concerts or plays. Community centers will often offer classes that are free or inexpensive. Many cities have a community center, operated by the city government.

I say, “the tuition was fairly low” at the latchkey program. “Tuition” is money you pay to go to a school. We often talk about tuition being “low” or “high.” “Low tuition” is not very expensive; “high tuition,” however, is expensive. I say this latchkey program has “rolling admission.” “Rolling admission” is when there isn’t a deadline for applying or signing up to get into something. You can join the program at any point during the year.

But the problem with this program was that “there was very little supervision of the kids, and the staff seemed inexperienced.” “Supervision” is the act of looking after or taking care of someone or something. The verb is “to supervise,” and a person who supervises is called a “supervisor.” At this latchkey program, “there was very little supervision of the kids,” meaning the kids weren’t being watched very well. Also, “the staff seemed inexperienced.” Someone who is “experienced” has been doing something for a long time and has “experience” doing it. “Inexperienced” is the opposite of “experienced” – someone who is “inexperienced” has not been doing something for a long time.

Susan is now considering “hiring a nanny.” A “nanny” (nanny) – what the French might call an “au pair” – is a person, often a young woman, who comes to a house and takes care of the children while the parents aren’t there. Often, a nanny cleans the house and makes meals for the family. Sometimes nannies are “live- (live) in (in),” meaning they sleep and stay with the family full-time. There are also nannies who will just come during the day and leave at night. I say that a good nanny “is hard to come by.” When we say something is “hard to come by,” we mean it’s difficult to get. For example, “It’s hard to come by really good movies nowadays.” Well, I think so.

I say that, “I don’t envy Susan.” “Envy” (envy) is similar to “jealousy.” When someone has something that you want, you “envy” them for having that thing. I say that “I don’t envy Susan,” because she has a difficult situation – it is not a situation that I would want. I end by saying, “Single moms – and dads – have it tough.” “To have it tough” means to be in a difficult situation or circumstance – to have things harder than some.

Now let's listen to the story, this time at a normal speed.

[start of story]

My friend Susan is an engineer, and she's also a single mom. She has been working some odd hours lately and was having a tough time finding childcare for her four-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old son.

Her daughter, Kimberly, is enrolled in a preschool, and Susan is able to drop her off on her way to work. But the preschool closes at 6:00 p.m., and sometimes Susan can't get there in time to pick her up.

Her son, Paul, is in the second grade and goes to a public school near their house. Paul gets out of school at 3:00 p.m., but Susan never gets off work before 6:00 p.m., and sometimes later.

So, what can she do with the kids after school? I went with Susan to check out a latchkey program at the local community center. It seemed like a good idea. Paul would be picked up from his school, and he could stay at the center to do his homework and to play in the center until as late as 7:00 p.m. The tuition was fairly low and there was rolling admission. The trouble was, there was very little supervision of the kids, and the staff seemed inexperienced.

Now, Susan is considering hiring a nanny. The nanny would pick both kids up from their schools and bring them home. The nanny could make dinner for them and stay with them until she got home. This would be ideal, but a good nanny is hard to come by and is very expensive to hire, even the ones who don't live in.

I don't envy Susan. Single moms – and dads – have it tough.

[end of story]

Thanks to our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for all her hard work, and thanks to you for listening.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
single mom – a mother who raises children alone, without the help of a father

* After her husband died, Serena became a single mom and had to raise her two children alone.


odd hours – work hours that are not typical or standard; times of the day when one must do something that most people do not do during that time

* When Andre left his office job and started his own business, he had to work odd hours of the day, in the morning, afternoon, and even at night.


tough time – difficulties; a hard or unpleasant experience

* Brunilda was having a tough time with the project and did not know if she could complete it.


childcare – a service or business that watches and cares for children when parents are unable to, usually while they’re at work

* Both of Julian’s parents worked, so he spent a lot of time in childcare.


preschool – school children can go to before they are old enough for kindergarten; a class children can go to before they reach an age when they must go to school by law

* Luise was not old enough for school yet, but she attended preschool.


to drop (someone) off – to leave someone at a specific location

* When Colby’s car stopped working, he needed his friend to drive him to work and drop him off there.


to pick (someone) up – to get someone and take them away from a specific location

* Madelyn picked her sister up from the library on her way home from work.


public school – a school that is free to go to and run by the government

* Mr. and Mrs. Carrell could not afford to send their children to private school, so their kids went to the local public school instead.


latchkey program – a service that watches and cares for children who are old enough for school during the hours before and after school

* The latchkey program used a bus to pick up kids after school.



community center – a building where events and services are held for people who live close together in the same city or community

* The community center had a large gymnasium where local kids could go to play sports.


tuition – the cost of joining and attending a college, university, private school, or childcare service

* The tuition at Freddie’s school went up, and his parents were worried that they may not have enough money to pay for it next year.


rolling admission – year-round acceptance; the act of letting someone apply and enter an institution at any time of the year, instead of limiting entrance to the fall or spring

* The school had a rolling admission policy, so new students often joined classes in the middle of the year.


supervision – the act of watching a child to keep him or her safe and out of trouble

* The students were under careful supervision during art class so that they would not hurt themselves while using scissors.


nanny – someone who watches and cares for children at one’s homes instead of in a separate location

* Jenna’s parents were not at home very often and she spent most of her time with the nanny.


hard to come by – difficult to find; uncommon

* Seth really wanted a trading card of his favorite baseball player, but it was rare and hard to come by.


live in – someone who lives in the same house as his or her employer; someone who does a job for someone else and is allowed to live in that person’s home

* The live in cook had a bedroom in the bottom level of the house and was treated well by the family he worked for.


to envy – to be jealous of; to want what someone else has

* Graciela envied her brother because he had many good friends.

Culture Note
“See You Later, Alligator”

Children often have their own language, things they say that are “meaningful” (has meaning) to them and that are “amusing” (funny) to them. One very common “exchange” (communication between two people) between two children goes like this:

A: “See you later, alligator.”

B: “After a while, crocodile.”

This is a funny way that children sometimes say goodbye to each other. It’s just one of those things that American kids say to be funny. “Crocodiles” and “alligators” are both animals that live in the water with very large “jaws” (mouths), “rough” (not smooth) skin, and long tails. Why do they use “alligator” and “crocodile”? Nobody knows.

“See you later” is perhaps the most common way to informally say goodbye. Other ways to informally say goodbye are:

- “See you.”

- “Catch you later.”

- “Later.”

- “Bye.”

- “Nice seeing you.”

- “Good to see you.”

Note that with the expression “See you,” Americans pronounce the “you” as “ya,” so that “See you” is actually pronounced “See ya.” In fact, pronouncing it as “See you” would sound strange to a native speaker.

The other expressions–”catch you later,” “nice to see you,” and “good to see you.”– can be pronounced either way, as “you” or “ya.” The less formal you are, the more likely you are to say “ya” rather than “you.”