7 Tips to Ease the Transition Into Child Care
Getting ready for School? Don’t overlook your little ones.
Even small children benefit from the routines and experiences found in high quality child care and development programs. The early years from birth – 5 are a critical time when the brain is developing at rapid speed and creating connections that will last a lifetime.
Here are some tips to ease the transition into child care:
1. Visit Your New Center
Choose a day when you and your child can visit the center together. Familiarize your child with the caregivers he or she will interact with on a daily basis, take time to play with the toys and get used to the overall atmosphere of the daycare. If possible, conduct a trial run like this more than once before full-time care begins. Many centers offer a phased start to child care from 2 weeks to a full month before your child starts full-time.
2. Talk About Childcare With Your Child
No matter whether your child is an infant, toddler or preschooler, begin talking about the idea of childcare. Find books or TV shows that involve children attending child care centers. Emphasize that preschool is a “fun” place for learning, and practice playing school together at home to get them familiar with the concept.
3. Practice Experiences Outside the Home
While your child may be comfortable being cared for by grandparents and family friends while in the comfort of your own home, they may feel differently about being cared for in an unfamiliar environment. Expose your child to a couple short visits with non-parent caregivers as a way to build independence..
4. Give Yourself Lots of Time for Drop Off
The first few times you drop your child off at their new center, ensure you give yourself an extra 20 to 30 minutes than you think necessary. It could be difficult for both you and your child to separate in the transition process until both of you get used to your new routine. Most children need reassurance at drop off time but skilled staff can help them settle in and shift to play within a few minutes
5. Ease Into It
If at all possible, start your child with just a few days a week rather than a full week of care to ease the new transition. Starting with a few days of care can help your child feel less overwhelmed before progressing to full-time childcare. Many centers ask for a phased start to ease with change
6. Send Them With Their Favorites
Whether it’s a favorite toy, blanket or snack, sending a few of your child’s favorite things with them can help them feel more at home. Check with your center team first to be sure bringing snacks from home is OK (if meals are provided) and make sure that personal items are labeled with your child’s name!
7. Celebrate the time together outside of child care
When you have more time together outside of child care hours, think of some fun activities you can do as a family that your child can bring to their child care center as a story for Monday! Maybe you take a trip to the park, visit an indoor playground, or even explore the neighborhood on foot.
These memories will give your toddler something to celebrate when they return to their class for the next fun week and something to look forward to if daycare transition is more difficult in the first few weeks.
Finally, be kind to yourself!
Transitions are always difficult and separating from your child isn’t easy. Luckily, you can rest assured knowing center staff have years of experience with childcare transitions and are there to help you through.
Give yourself permission to be sad in the beginning and hopefully happy when you see all the new fun relationships and activities your child receives at their new child care center!
Do you have another tip to make the transition into daycare simpler for yourself or your child? We’d love to hear them.
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PS: Do you still have questions about your child's first day? Just send me an mail at firstname.lastname@example.org