Starting a new childcare center can be tough on any parent or child. Throwing your child into a new situation can be scary for them, especially if they are unsure about what is happening. Some children take longer to adjust to new situations while others may be able to transition more easily. Either way, we suggest you follow our tips below when starting childcare.
Before the First Day
Visit the Center
Take a tour of the childcare center with your child before beginning. This is a great time to introduce your child to their teachers. Let them know where they can hang their coats and bag. If you know your child has a hard time in new situations, see if you can spend a couple hours with them there. Play games and interact with your child so they can get comfortable with the childcare center before they start. Even if your child is still an infant, this can be helpful!
Make a Special Purchase
Get your child excited for childcare by getting them something special. This doesn’t mean that you have to run to the store and buy the most expensive toy. Think simple! Buy them a backpack that they can use to carry all their stuff in. Or, buy them a new outfit or shoes that they can wear on their first day. Consider buying books like “Llama Llama Misses Mamma” or “The Kissing Hand” to help ease them into transitioning into childcare.
Pack Their Backpack and Prepare Before the First Day
The last thing you’ll want to do is rush out the door in a frenzy on the first day of childcare. Plan ahead by labeling everything the week or day before. Pack your child’s backpack or bag the night before as well. If they need a water bottle, bottle, or extra snack, have those ready beforehand. Don’t forget to add their favorite stuffed animal or lovey to their bag as well! Lay out an outfit for them, or have them pick one out if they are old enough. Consider laying your outfit out the night before as well!
Give Your Child Experiences with Babysitters Beforehand
Let your child get used to you leaving by having a friend or relative watch them before. If possible, have them watch your child outside of your home if they haven’t already done so. If your child has never been out of your care, this will be helpful for both of you!
On the First Day
Plan an extra 30 Minutes
Even though it could only take you 10 minutes to get to your daycare, plan an extra 30 minutes! You’ll never know how your child will react when the first day of childcare comes. It may go easy and then you’ll have extra time to get to work. It may be hard, and you’ll be glad you planned for that extra time!
It’s always helpful to arrive a little early on the first day. This will give your child the opportunity to settle in. Plan to stay a couple minutes with your child and get them started on an activity.
Stay Positive and Say Goodbye
When it’s time to go, let your child know you are leaving. Make your goodbye short and sweet and let them know you’ll be back for them. Stay positive even though you may be feeling nervous too. Your child can pick up on how you’re feeling, so let them know you are happy and that they will be too.
After the First Week
Expect Some Changes in Your Child
When starting anything new, expect to see a change in your child in the following weeks. This can mean a renewed independence, or maybe a new fear of separating. Either way, validate how your child is feeling and let them know you are there to help if needed. Just remember, it is normal for children to feel sad, grumpy, or clingy during this transition time. Give them time to go through this [phase and stay patient with them.
Get to Know Your Childcare Providers Better
Getting to know your childcare providers can help you feel more comfortable. In turn, this will help your child feel more comfortable when they see you are. If you have concerns, start an open dialogue with your childcare provider. They are professionals in raising children, so ask for help if you need it!
Continue to read books and talk to your children about childcare. Make sure you keep the conversation positive. If you can, stop in for lunch or during a break to visit your child during the workweek. During holiday events, see if you can stop in and see what they are up to! Letting your child know that you are interested in what they do can make childcare that much more fun!
Starting childcare is not an easy transition for most children.Just remember, you’re whole family will get through this just fine! Focus on making childcare a positive experience and your child do great!