It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare
Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition.
Preparing for The First Day at Childcare
Are you concerned about how your child will go from being in the attention and care of close family and trusted friends to a room of strangers? Will they adjust from constant cuddles in a familiar environment to a foreign space with unknown carers? The world of parenthood is full of firsts, incredible moments, and unforgettable milestones, all of which are usually accompanied by a flurry of emotions. Each new achievement is both thrilling and daunting, and enrolling your child in daycare for the first time is no exception. At least it hasn’t been with us with a full range of experiences, centers, babysitters and family daycare we have found a few tips that work for us. So here are a few suggestions for making the transition to daycare smoother for both you and your little one.
Photo credit: @playthedayaway
Transition days and play sessions
This one is all about removing the fear of the unknown. A new environment can be unsettling so slowly introducing your child and building familiarity can be one of the most powerful strategies for preparing for childcare. new environment where your kid does not know the teachers or the surroundings can be daunting. So, take it out of the equation by visiting at least once before their first day, preferably a few days in advance, to keep it fresh in their minds. While you are there try to relax and enjoy it, play with your little one and interact with other children and carers. Your child will be very good at reading your non-verbal cues so make sure they see your enjoying the experience. Furthermore, this visit also gives your child a chance to become familiar with the educators and the environment. Make sure if you are in a larger center that your child’s main educator is there when you do these sessions. This also gives the educators or caregivers the opportunity to learn about your child and your family to help support your child as they transition.
Preparing for childcare through talking
Communication is key. Imagine if you were dropped off in a foreign place with no idea of what was to happen. The more you talk about things, the more at ease your child will be about daycare. Depending on your child’s age, you should describe all that will happen to them. Talk through routines, what to bring and what will happen during the day. You can play pretend to introduce the concept or show them photos etc. Our local daycare center is next to a park so we started going to play at the park while the children were outside playing. This meant both Freddy and now PJ are able to watch the children playing and they want to be a part of it. In fact PJ has just started asking when will he get to start.
Build a relationship with educators or caregivers.
Before the first day, start building a bond with the teachers/caregivers this can be done through communication with the center. As mentioned transition sessions and play visits give you the opportunity to chat and find out the best means of communication. Many centers welcome you to call during the day to get feedback on how your child is going. This can help to put your mind at ease. Maintain open parent/teacher contact, ask plenty of questions, and express any concerns you might have about your child beginning childcare for the first time. Many carers now also utilise Apps such as Storypark to share your child’s day with you.
Tips for saying goodbye (don’t sneak off)
As enticing as it is to flee, it is important to always say goodbye to your child before leaving and not simply vanish! This sets a pattern for the future. It lets them know you’re going rather than scaring them when they can’t find you. For some children sneaking off can be a break in trust. However, don’t drag out the good bye either. The more confident you are, the more confident your child will be.
Bring something familiar from home.
Finally, allow your child to take their comforter, blanket or teddy to snuggle when they are homesick. It will provide them with a great deal of comfort and help the new environment feel more familiar.
It takes time to build confidence. So be gentle with yourself and flexible with the process. It does get easier!