By Sara Feigelson
This is a “family-sized and styled” daycare in the caregiver’s home, usually limited to 5 children of more or less the same age group (within a one-year span), available for 3 month-3 y.o. children. Some are run privately, some are sponsored and certified by the Rehovot municipality.
The mishpachton is as good as the caregiver who runs it. Some are truly excellent. My daughter attended a “Rehovot municipality sponsored” one run by a warm, energetic, lovely woman who kept an immaculate home, had an apt. full of age-appropriate fun and educational toys, who delighted the children with her lessons and play, and just her endless energy to sing and interact with the children all day long.
The caregiver stuck to a daily schedule of activities and covered various “lesson plans” much the way a Maon does (taught all of the colors, seasons, body parts, etc. and had special emphasis on chagim). In a Mishpachton you get many “home advantages” over a Maon: More individual attention. Diapers are changed immediately after they are soiled. When my daughter was teething, the caregiver gave her specially prepared mushy foods to eat. If a child had a rough night and was tired in the morning s/he could rest on the side and did not have to participate in the “group activity of the hour.” A mishpachton can also come with home disadvantages (and distractions)- the caregivers’ own kids may come home in the afternoon, the home telephone rings, an irresponsible one may be tempted to watch TV or do her own household chores… City certification involves “hishtalmut” classes, drop-in inspections, etc. to weed out the irresponsible, but of course the best way to find out about a Mishpachton is to visit it on site and speak to parents who sent their kids there in the past.
All mishpachtonim on the north side of Rehovot are in apartments, and the caregiver will use her mirpesot or the apt. yard for outdoor play, while some in mid-town or on the south side of town are held in private homes with private yards. The hrs. are Sun-Thurs. 7 or 7:30 until 4:00, some also include Fri. 7/7:30-12. All mishpachtonim serve home-cooked breakfast and (hot, meat) lunch meals.
The cost of the Rehovot sponsored Mishpachtonim is identical to the cost of the State sponsored Maonot (Wizo, Naamat, Emunah, etc.) is approx. 1,500 shekels/month. The cost of private ones can run higher. Most mishpachtonim also provide 1-2 extra chugim of gymboree sport and/or music at an additional monthly cost (approx. 100 shekels/month/chug).