The first day, week and month in childcare can be an emotional time for both you and your child. It can be exciting, nerve wracking, and at times difficult, as your child adapts to a new environment and learns to be content in the company of others.
Different children react differently to their first few days in childcare. Whilst most happily skip off without a backwards glance, others feel the separation anxiety more and take longer to settle in.
If your child falls into the latter category, there are plenty of things you can do to ease the anxiety (for you both!) and make the transition into childcare as easy as possible.
Test the waters with some orientation visits
Firstly, it’s a great idea to have a few orientation visits.
This is where you take your child to the childcare centre and stay with them for about an hour to start with, building up each time. This allows them to explore their new environment and meet the educators and other children, whilst having the security of mum, dad or their regular carer close by.
Try to have a few orientation visits, and on the second or third visit, tell your child that you’re popping out for a while and you’ll be back very soon. Then leave the room for 20-30 minutes. During these times, they’ll learn that this is a safe environment to be in without you, and that you’ll always come back to get them.
Do this a few times and slowly build up the time that you are gone, until you can do a half day, and eventually full day.
Prepare for the separation
If possible, try and get your child used to being cared for by someone other than you before they go to daycare.
If you have family or a close friend who can look after them for a few hours on a regular basis, this will get them used to being away from you. As long as they are in a safe environment, they will quickly realise that the world doesn’t end when you disappear.
Talk about childcare
Communication with your child is important, and the more you can talk about daycare, the more the child will know what to expect.
Talk to your child about the fun activities they will be able to participate in, explain the daily routine of the childcare centre to them, and let them know exactly when you’ll be there to pick them up.
There are many story books available about starting daycare, so read some of these to your child. Always talk about daycare in a positive light and convey your confidence in the childcare facility they will be going to. If you are positive and confident, they will be too.
Dropping your child off
If you’ve started daycare with some orientation days, your child will be used to the centre and should be happy being there without you.
Occasionally however, there will be times you drop your child off and there are tears. It can be tempting to stay longer, have another cuddle, comfort your child and wait for the tears to stop, but often the best approach is to firmly say goodbye, let your child know you will be back to pick them up soon, and walk away. Dragging out the farewell can often be harder.
You can phone the centre after you have gone to see how your child is, and a good centre will call you anyway to let you know how they are. More often than not, the crying subsides within a few minutes of you leaving and your child is perfectly happy.
Picking up your child
At the end of the day when you collect your child, give them your undivided attention and ask them all about their day.
At Central Gardens Childcare, we provide you with a daily report on what your child ate, when they slept and what activities they participated in. We also have a slideshow of photos from the day on a laptop for you to look at and you can also view our daily program on our family lounge app.
We encourage you to look at these with your child and talk about all the exciting things that happened that day. This creates a positive connection between their home life and daycare life, and makes coming back the next day something to look forward to.
If you’d like to arrange an orientation visit at our centre with your child, please call us on 02 4323 7701.