Sending your child to childcare for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience for both children and parents. Luckily, there are a few ways to help prepare yourself and your child for this exciting new chapter.
Here are our top five tips:
1. Introduce your child to their new environment
You want your child to be familiar with their new environment prior to their first day. A great way to do this is by bringing your child along when you tour the centre. This can help to familiarise them with the staff and all the new children, as well as getting them used to the atmosphere of the centre.
It is also helpful for your child to attend all orientation sessions provided by the centre. This will allow your child to warm up to their surroundings and start to form relationships with the other children and the educators that will be caring for them.
2. Build a relationship with your child’s educators.
Having a relationship with your child’s educators is important in preparing your child for care, but also for the duration of their childcare journey. Forming these relationships will help your child’s educators learn as much as possible about them. Understanding your child’s interests, likes, dislikes and any special needs allows the educators to better support their learning and development.
Positive and respectful relationships also encourage constructive communication of ideas and expectations of parents, as well as their specific approaches to parenting. This guides educators in incorporating aspects of your child’s home life where possible to help smooth the transition into care and create a cohesive childcare-home environment.
3. Speak to your child about childcare
If your child is old enough to understand, it can be helpful to speak to them about childcare to encourage the day ahead. Letting them know what to expect, the people they will see and the activities they will take part in can help ease some of the emotions they may be experiencing prior to drop off.
Go through your child’s schedule for the day with them and start with you dropping them off and end with you picking them up. This helps ensure them that you will be back at the end of the day and encourages them to enjoy the time in between.
4. Ease your child into their days of care.
If you are planning on sending your child to care for multiple days a week, it can be helpful to take a gradual approach and slowly increase their days over a few weeks – this can be especially useful for parents returning to work.
A great rule of thumb is to start with two days and slowly build up to your required number of days. Starting with two days allows your child to gradually settle in and reach a level of comfort and security by the time they are attending all their booked days.
This also reduces the level of stress that comes with trying to settle your child in a new environment whilst returning to work – we recommend getting your child started a few weeks prior to your return.
5. Create a drop off routine
Mornings can be busy for parents. However, it is important for your child’s first few weeks you take a bit of extra time to say goodbye and create a drop off routine. This could include reading your child a book, playing a game together, giving them a hug and a kiss or a high five. Helping your child understand that you are leaving rather than sneaking out while they are distracted is a more effective method in creating a smooth drop off routine.
Regardless of age, you also want to form a sense of trust between yourself and your child. When dropping off, it is comforting for your child to know that you will be back to come and pick them up. When they see you return at the end of the day just like you said you would, this trust is formed.
When it is time to leave, confidence is key. If you seem anxious or upset, this may ring alarm bells for your child and make them feel unsure about you leaving. Be confident and try your best to avoid going back into the room to check on your child as this will just repeat the process of them having to see you leave again. Remind yourself that they are in good hands.
At Explorers we are passionate about offering high quality care for our children in a supportive and caring environment. We encourage families to tour our centres with your children to learn more about Explorers and our curriculum. All our qualified staff and educators are committed to providing the best possible care and supporting your child to grow, learn and explore in these developmental stages of their life. Book a tour today to learn about how Explorers can support you in finding the perfect fit for your child and family.