Child care, in all its forms of nannying, family day care, preschool or long day care, is essential particularly for those of us who work and family aren’t able to look after your little one.
It can be a daunting task finding the right centre, but now that you have found the perfect one and they have a place for you; it is time to begin prepping your little one for their first day! Settling in to daycare with a new environment and new people can be overwhelming for kids and parents alike.
Talk with them about it!
No child is too little to hear you telling them about where they will be going soon. If they are around 3 or more, I would start this prepping at least two weeks out. If they are younger, make comments about their new centre every so often, such as ‘I wonder what books might be at your centre.’ This allows them to build their understanding and their connection between home + centre, and will assist with the settling in.
Do the daycare orientation visits to help your child settle in
These are there to help you build a relationship with the educators in your child’s room; if your little one sees you happy and calm with the educators then they are more likely to feel safe and secure with them too. The orientation visits are not for you to walk off and leave your child, they are there for you to play with them in this new environment. Find a toy or object at the centre that you know your child will love and encourage them to explore their new environment.
Include your kids in the preparation.
If they are old enough, allow your little one to help pack their bag (even choose their bag!) before their first day. If they are a little too young to help, you could pack it alongside them and explain what you are putting in and why, such as “Let’s put bunny in your bag so he can keep you company at your centre when you sleep.”
Pack a comfort item to send to daycare
Some centres don’t allow toys, but a comfort item is different. It might be your scarf that you wore but you will let them have until they are happy to go and play or it might be a little bunny or blanket that they sleep with at home. If they are older and don’t have a comfort item, maybe suggest they take in their favourite book and the educators can read it during the day.
Always say goodbye
The big day arrives and you need to leave. Some think sneaking off is best; no, it isn’t. Say goodbye to your little one. Tell them that you will miss them and see them later. If they have an afternoon nap, you could tell them that you will be back to pick them up when they wake up. Setting a routine for this goodbye is great too! Play a game with a clear ending (read a book or do a puzzle) + explain that you have to go now but you will be back later, give a kiss and cuddle and wave goodbye. You might wave a funny wave at the window or gate, something special for your little one.
Toddlers in daycare
Learn about toddler daycare rooms and what to expect.