Starting Daycare or Preschool is such a big milestone for any little one, one that is just as monumental for parents as it is for children. No matter if you have a bubba, toddler or a preschooler starting, there are a few little tips that can help make the transition a little bit easier.
We’ve all been there, at some point you will be sending your child off for their first day of childcare, you’ll have a tummy full of butterflies and will most likely be a bit teary, though never fear, it DOES get easier!
Here are 10 top tips for starting childcare.
1. Chat, chat, chat
In the lead up to the big day, it’s imperative to chat to your child about going to childcare and what that entails, even if they’re too little to fully grasp the concept, remember, our little ones take in more than we think. No matter how big or how small they are, they’ll understand your tone, so keeping it light and fun is key. Talk to them about how much fun they’ll have, how they will make lots of new friends, that they get to play with playdoh and paint and get messy and listen to stories. We all get a little anxious when we are sending a little one off for the first time, though if we can try to keep our anxiety out of the conversation, our children will arrive with confidence to start their daycare journey.
2. Orientation visits
Another great way of ensuring your child has a happy start is to visit the centre a few times in the lead up to starting. This is a great way to get your child acquainted with educators and many of the little friends they will be playing with. Most childcare centres and preschools have an open door policy, ask your centre and arrange a good time to visit! Expert tip: mid morning, after most parents have already dropped off, is a great time to arrange a little play, the kids would have settled in and they’ll be playing LOTS of fun little games around this time.
3. Take mental note of toys and equipment
When you visit the centre, before your child starts, take a good look at the toys and equipment, especially the ones you know your child will love. You’ll have a great talking point in the lead up to starting, when you arrive you’ll be able to easily lead them to something you know they will enjoy AND you can give the educators and idea of what your child likes to do, just in case a little distraction is needed for any teary moments.
4. Bring Blankie
Not all children have a comforter, though if yours does, make sure you label it and take it with you. It’s such a simple way for educators to help calm and comfort your child if they’re feeling a little upset. Your child will be happy to have something from home to cuddle and it will help them feel safe.
5. Arrive early
Arriving with a little time up your sleeve ensures you are a little more relaxed and can make your child feel comfortable in their surroundings. Those extra moments allow you to chat to the educators with any routine information, likes and dislikes and also gives you time to give a nice big cuddle before you go. Don’t forget, you might be a bit teary, so having an extra minute or two in the car before you go never goes astray!
6. Say goodbye once
When you’re leaving for the day, make sure you only say goodbye once, and leave straight after. Any prolonged goodbyes could leave your child feeling a little worried. Your child will be with professionals, they will be able to calm your child down (if there are any tears), and they’ll make sure they not only have fun, but learn something along the way.
7. Don’t sneak out
Sometimes, if your child is happily playing and distracted, you might try to sneak out to save any tears. This is always a tricky one, whilst it saves initial tears, it does also give the impression that you may not come back – which is a tough one for a kid. ALWAYS say goodbye and tell your child you will be back to collect them at the end of the day, there might be tears, but your child will trust that you’re coming back for them. Don’t forget, the educators have many different children with different personalities and needs, they WILL find a way to make your child feel comfortable with them.
8. Tears might not appear until pick up
Some little ones will have a GREAT first day at childcare, though when you arrive back to pick them up, they dissolve into tears. Don’t worry at all if this happens! Think of it as your child making you feel you were missed, but they’ve also had a great day
9. Spend some time at pick up
If you can spend 5 minutes at pick up time going around with your child asking them about their day, they will be SUPER excited to show you around. This one is more for toddlers and preschoolers, but even little bubbas will enjoy looking at everything with you there. Make them feel special and look at every little thing they want to show you, you’ll see the reward of this little tip in the months to come.
10. Take a moment just for you
We all want the very best for our children and sometimes, if tears start flowing from your child you can second guess your choice. Be kind to yourself, you’re allowed to have a little cry about it, it’s a big day. Try to take a little moment in your day to do something just for you, you’re doing such an amazing job and you most definitely deserve it.
How did your little one’s first day of childcare go? SHARE with us in the comments.