As a parent, your child’s first day at childcare is usually a period filled with mixed emotions of anxiety and excitement that can be overwhelming for both you and your child.
Your feelings can subconsciously influence your child; thus, the more optimistic and positive you are the more your child will be open to the idea of this new experience.
Remember that it is worth starting the transition slowly and preparing your child for the adventure ahead. Here are five tips that can help prepare your child for his/her first day of daycare.
1. Visit the early learning centre with your child ahead of the start date
Having chosen an early learning centre that best suits you and your child’s needs, make sure you visit the centre with your child for a couple of hours before his/her start date.
Most centres will allow you to do this to help orient your child, familiarising them with the layout of the facility and the nurturing staff caring your little wonder. You may choose to make two visits, on two separate occasions.
Ask the team if you can come at a time when the children are involved in some hands-on activities allowing your child to participate with his/her peers.
First experiences leave strong impressions, so make sure your child has some positive experience that will ensure they look forward to coming again. At little wonders, we take time to nurture a sense of belonging for your child when they make these initial visits.
2. Get ready together
When getting ready for your child’s first day, it may help to talk to your child about how they are feeling in a calm and composed tone.
Let them know that it is ok to feel nervous. You may share your own experiences with them or help them recall some of the fun things they did during their visits.
Ask them if they have any questions? It may help to engage children in role-playing so that he/she is familiar with what is going to happen.
Taking your child shopping to buy a bag or water bottle of their choice just for daycare, can help turn some of their nervous energy into excitement.
Making slow changes to their sleep schedule to match daycare routine can help children regulate their emotions when they start daycare, ensuring that they are not tired and ready to engage with the day’s activities.
There are many storybooks about starting daycare that can be read to your child, promoting discussion, and encouraging your child to share his emotions.
Let your child know you will be thinking about him/her and will be excited to hear all about their day
3. Arrive a little early
No matter how prepared you are, when children are faced with an unfamiliar environment and new faces, it may be difficult for them to adjust. They may cry or be hesitant to explore.
This is normal. Arriving a little earlier to help them orient themselves, reintroducing their carers will help comfort and calm them.
You will also need to stay strong, positive, and calm during this process as children pick up on their parents’ emotions quite well and may reflect the same.
If a child is drawn to a particular activity or interested in exploring Montessori materials, encourage them to proceed as this will serve as a distraction.
4. Leave a piece of the family with them.
Give your child the choice to take a piece of home with them. This may be a favorite toy or piece of blanket. It may also be a family photo or something small that belongs to you and reminds your child of you.
Let your child know that you would like them to keep the item safe until you come back to pick him/her up. This helps to assure your child that you will come back to pick them up.
Creating a bond of trust, makes children feel secure even in your absence.
Little Wonders Montessori permits children to keep their favorite toy in the centre so that your child comes back to school with enthusiasm. Leaving a piece of yourself or their favorite toy gives children a sense of comfort allowing them to feel your presence.
5. Make the drop-off brisk
Even though you’re thoroughly prepared, your child is likely to feel upset during the drop-off in the beginning.
It differs from child to child but almost 80% of children end up in tears however, children are resilient and regain composure within a few minutes of your departure. It is simply the thought of the parent leaving that makes the child feel uneasy and anxious.
Whenever you drop your child off make sure to be quick and try your best not to turn back even if you hear them cry because they will be fine within a few minutes.
Feel free to check up on them by calling if you’re worried once you work.
It will be hard in the beginning but as time passes, children will come to trust the pattern and enjoy going to daycare every day. They will see you off with a smile as they engage excitedly with staff and their peers, making it easier for you and themselves.
These are just a few ways through which you can prepare your child and yourself for the first day of childcare. It may be difficult, and there maybe be obstacles you and your child encounter but remember that everything changes with time.
As time passes, your child will develop familiarity with the environment, and people forging friendships and growing in confidence.