Starting at daycare is an anxious time for both the child and their parents. Preparation is key to getting through it, and that starts long before your child’s first day. You should visit the centre beforehand to let your child get acquainted with both the environment as well as the new faces they will be seeing regularly. It’s also a good opportunity for you to ask questions and learn as much about the centre and its routines as possible.
If your child is old enough, you can have a conversation with them about their new childcare routine. You can talk about the drop-offs, the pickups, the activities they will try, and the friends they will make. Involve them in the shopping process as you pick up clothing, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. Your child will feel ownership over the process, and that will make them feel more comfortable with what’s going on.
It’s The First Day
- You want to ensure everyone’s stress levels stay low, so make sure you stick to a schedule. If your child isn’t used to getting up so early, get them into the routine well in advance. Don’t set yourself up to rush about stressing.
- Most childcare centres ask that you do not bring toys from home as there are plenty of new experiences for your child to explore. However, a small photo or something they can keep nearby may give them comfort.
- Aim to arrive early enough that you have time to see them off. Do not linger; make your goodbye short, sweet, and confident, and wave them off. You can make your child comfortable about drop-offs by creating a routine around your goodbyes. If you remain calm, this will transfer onto them.
- This isn’t only stressful for your child; it can be upsetting for parents too. Once your child is in good hands, treat yourself to a nice coffee.
The End of The Day
- Be sure that you’re on time to pick your child up every day, but especially on the first day! Your child will find comfort knowing that you will arrive at a specific time, whether it’s after their nap or a late snack.
- Just as you can create a goodbye routine, you can also set a routine for going home. Let them show you what they did that day, show you their classroom or introduce a new friend they’ve made. Have a sign when it’s time to go and play a little game on your way to the car and on the road home. Your child should have something to look forward to, whether it’s their favourite meal for dinner, a specific book they enjoy, or simply playtime.
- You will likely run into some hiccups, be sure to validate your child’s feelings. Offer them reassurance if they express fear or worry.
Whether you are looking for a childcare centre in Port Macquarie or Kempsey, know what you’re looking for before you begin your search. Forewarned is forearmed, and that’s one of the most important parts of the search process.