How To Help Your Child Get The Best Start
Have you thought about what you can do to help your child settle into daycare?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression – that’s what they say.
It’s just as true for your child as it is for you. This guide helps you prepare them for settling in.
Before You Go
Before you bring your child to the daycare, it’s really, really important to have a meeting with your child care director to get properly prepared and so they can give you advice before you start.
To ensure a smooth transition for your child, your family should start a new evening and morning routine as soon as possible. This helps them feel more secure in their new environment. A sense of established routine can prepare both your children and you.
It can be reassuring if your existing routine establishes activities you always do when you leave home (take your things, put them in the car). Follow the same practiced steps every day when you come back into the house (put away the buggy, wipe your feet, hang up your coat).
Most centers will actually insist you book a tour before you even sign up – certainly at Happy Bunnies, that’s always our approach. Our director, Magdalena MacLeod, will always be happy to help you through the process.
We offer free settling in sessions. These are usually one to two hours, so a bit shorter than a regular session, and the parent generally attends with their child. It gives your child a chance to make friends before the first day.
The First Visit
Visit the school with your child before you have to leave for the first time and allow as many visits as they need. Keep parent-teacher communication open and ask lots of questions, but remember that every child needs a different time to settle into child care.
Take the time to introduce your baby to their new caregivers and be aware of the atmosphere around you.
If your child needs longer to settle in a new environment than others, plan ahead to make sure they feel comfortable there.
Do they have a favorite snack or toy? Help them to associate the daycare with the good feelings they feel about that. Reinforce this as exciting and a positive experience by combining it with the things your child already knows and loves.
If you feel concerned, you can call the preschool to check how your child is settling in. Some children may be afraid before they start child care for the first time, helping them keep the communication channels open.
Ask Your Child Directly How it Went
If your child is a little older, be sure to ask them about their activities during the day. Make this part of your routine after you pick them up or as you drive home in the car.
If it went well, that’s great! You can talk about things they like.
Sometimes, children have trouble focusing on just a few things like this, so it can really help if you have notes from the educators (such as via an app). In this case, you will know what the child was doing, and ask specifically, “How did you like finger-painting?”
Finally, What If You Need Help to Adjust?
If you’re finding it hard to leave your child at daycare for the first time, talk with the teachers and explain how you’re feeling. We’re there to support you too, you know!
Depending on your family’s situation, you and your children may need to get used to it. Give them a few weeks. If it’s an option, start with shorter sessions and then slowly increase duration. These changes take time.
How long it takes for children to settle in varies by age group, and for each child, so do talk with us if you have concerns. After all, this is a new and uncertain experience for you, but they have seen this many times already.