The exciting day has come, and you have made the decision to enrol your child in childcare. It is a big step for not only your child but you and your family. Some children will embrace the first day of care with a smile and a wave. For other children, it can take some time to adapt to this new environment. Here are a few strategies on how to support your child through this exciting but unfamiliar time.
‘Play and stay’ visits
When you decide on the childcare centre you wish to enrol at, it is a good idea to do ‘play and stay’ visits leading up to your child’s first day of care. ‘Play and stay’ involves both you as the parent and child visiting the centre for an hour or two to gain familiarity with your child’s room and Educators. This can lesson anxiety for you and your child and answer any questions you may have. Speaking with your child about their fears or worries prior to the ‘play and stay’ visit can also be helpful. During the visit you can then help to alleviate some anxiety around these by chatting with them and getting the Educators support.
When it is time to leave and let your child enjoy their exciting day full of play and learning, it is best to have the first day of care as a shorter day. Discuss with the centre Director on check in times and what they and the Educators may recommend best to ease in the transition to care.
Get familiar with the Educators
At Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure, we encourage all families to visit and speak to our team as much as possible before the first day. Gaining familiarity with the Educators will encourage your child to start developing a bond with their new Educator. Discuss your child’s interests, routines, and rituals with the educators, involve your child in some of these discussions and chat to your child about this exciting new adventure.
When your child is starting childcare, be sure to bring along a comfort item, as well as some family and pet photos with you on their first day. Ensure that your child knows that they will be at the centre with them and they can access them at any time during the day.
Create a morning ritual with your child before you leave each day
By creating a beautiful morning ritual with your child before you leave to start your busy day, you will set the up for a smooth transition when it’s time to say good-bye. This could be as simple as putting their hat on and finding their friends in the playground, or perhaps you sit down with them for an art experience. However, once they are engaged, it’s time for you to say good-by and allow them to develop self-confidence and build and nurture relationships with their friends and Educators.
Enrol your child in for an extra day
If your child is attending childcare one day per week, it may result in a longer, drawn out transition period. This is because it is only one out of seven days in the week that your child is attending care, and by the time the week rolls around again they have to get used to the childcare environment all over again. During the time they are away from the centre separation anxiety may build and result in tears leading up and on their next day. Consider enrolling your child for an extra day each week on the quieter days at the centre to support in building and maintaining a healthy routine.