Getting ready for your child to start day care can be an anxious time for you both. Will they be okay when you are gone? Will they cry when you leave? Are they going to be happy? Some children take to starting day care like a duck to water and others need a little bit more time.
To put your mind at ease, child care centers are run by professionals who have looked after and taught many children, they know what to do and will provide your child with great care. Of course, when choosing a child care center ask many questions and find one that feels right for you and your child.
Starting child care is a big step, for children AND for parents so when it is time for your child to start day care, the following tips can help them settle in calmly and more happily.
1. Talk About It
In the months and weeks leading up to going to day care, speak to your child about the different places people go like work, school, day care etc. Explain to them about day care and that it is a place especially for kids with lots of fun activities. Visit the day care center a few times so that it becomes familiar to your little one.
2. Make Getting Ready for it Exciting
Involve your child in getting ready for day care. Let them come with you in choosing a special bag for day care, let them pick which cot sheets they want to bring, which hat to use. On the first day, let them pick their favourite outfit (day care appropriate) if they are old enough to have a preference.
3. Read About it
Read to your child about day care or preschool, books about the first day and what to expect. Books like “My First Day at Day Care” or “Rosie Goes to Preschool” are good for getting your child ready.
4. Bring a Transition Object
Bringing something from home sometimes makes your little one feel more safe and secure. A favourite soft toy to sleep with, their favourite drawing, or a blanket, something that if they feel a little upset can remind them of what they know.
5. Walk away! Don’t look back!
When it is time to drop them off and say goodbye, give them a warm loving goodbye and tell them you will be back but then WALK AWAY. It can be so tempting to drag out the farewell, to have one last cuddle, or to pop back and sneak a peek to see how your child is settling in. The best thing to do is walk away – I know this is hard! Find them a toy or something they are interested in before you leave can sometimes be a good distraction. However, dragging it out just makes the separation longer and more painful. If you are concerned about how they are going, especially if there were tears when you left, give the center a quick call later in the day to see how they are going.