Settling Children into Childcare on Day One
Settling children into childcare differs depending on their age, temperament and the period of time they have spent away from their parents with other people. The anxiety level shown by the child at the time of the parent leaving them for the first time at the centre will determine the strategy required. In the lead up to the first day a parent can do little things that will assist in their child settling in more quickly.
In the lead up parents should talk to their child about where other children go during the day and why. Tell them that one day they will be able to also go to childcare. Explain all the exciting things that the other children are doing and seeing at childcare. This will build up their excitement to want to see for themselves. Another simple way is to locate books with stories about children at childcare and read these to your child.
If your child is a baby insure that you provide a rich experience with them in the childcare surroundings as this will help settle them.
In an earlier post “Daycare Centers – What To Look For On First Visit” I have strongly suggested that you take your child with you. By taking your child with you on that first visit, they will be partly familiarized with their new environment. Short visits with your child will help develop their confidence and make them more settled when you leave.
Day One – Stay With Your Child
I would suggest that on day one you organize it to be a short day and you stay with your child, arrange this with the childcare center. During this settling in time your child can get to know the carers and the surroundings with you there in support. Make sure during this time you are relaxed and show confidence in the carer, to make your child feel at ease with them.
Don’t Express Your Feelings & Anxiety
While you are with your child don’t let them know that you are feeling the anxiety of leaving them for the first time at childcare. They will soon pick up on this and react accordingly. You must stay positive, calm and control your emotions. Once you leave the center you can let it all out. After you have left you should be encouraged to phone the center to check how your child has settled.
You must show your child that you feel comfortable and secure leaving them at the childcare center and that you trust their carer. Keep the ‘goodbye’ brief and confidently say ‘goodbye’ to them and always reassure them before leaving that you will return to pick them up at a particular time. Just walk away, don’t look back. Never just sneak away while they are playing as it will be distressing for them when they realize you are gone. They will not know when they will see you again. It will also make it very hard in the days following.
Take a Comfort Possession from Home
Letting them take something from home that they have every day will help them feel safe and secure. If they have something when they go to bed let them take that with them, otherwise sleep time could be a distressing time without it.
Conclusion – Settling Children into Childcare
Carers observe parents settling children into childcare weekly so take their advice as well. On picking your child up ask the carer how your child settled in and consciously make a friendly and relaxed relationship with them in front of your child. Children trust people you trust. Tell the carer about your child’s routines and activities at home and any times of the day that they find difficult or unsettling. Don’t be too worried about your child settling into childcare as it takes little time for most children to settle.