The day has come for your little one to head to daycare. This change can be tough for your child and you as a parent.
It takes some children longer than others to adjust to childcare. Your child might miss you a bit at first but there are some simple ways to be prepared for the change and to make the transition easier.
Before daycare starts
Before your child starts at childcare or daycare, it might help if a relative or friend looks after them occasionally. This will get them used to being away from you but with someone familiar and they'll learn that you will always return.
Even taking them to playgroups will give them an opportunity to socialise, gain independence and get used to new activities with you by their side.
Get to know the carer
Arrange a couple of initial visits, at least an hour long, with the new carer in the new environment. This early contact will give your child a chance to get to know the carer, with you there for support. The more familiar your child is with this new person, the more comfortable they will feel when you’re not there. While you're at childcare with your child, let them see that you get along with the carer. This will show your child that you trust in the carer.
Ease into it
Stay with your child for the first couple of days at the childcare centre or daycare and make them shorter days. This eases the settling-in process.
A slow part-time introduction to childcare is easier on your child. If possible, start with two or three days and slowly increase the number of days if it suits both you and your child. Many daycare centres require a child to attend at least two days a week.
Don’t worry, be happy
You may worry about how your child will manage without you, and whether a carer will look after them as well as you do. Even if you feel anxious inside, remember to stay positive. Being happy and speaking positively about the school and teachers will help your child feel good about being there. Children can sense anxiety and may mirror it.
A quick goodbye
After the first few days, start to establish a simple, fast routine at drop-off time. Say a quick good-bye and leave, even if your child starts crying. Staying longer than needed at the daycare centre, especially when your child is crying and yelling, can make it harder on them. The carers will comfort them and they will cheer up after you’ve left.
Make sure you say goodbye instead of sneaking out. If you sneak out, it might make your child concerned that you won’t return.
Leave a comfort item
If your daycare centre is OK with it, leave a comfort toy or blanket. The carer can then give it to them if they get upset or during moments of distress.