There may come a time where you need to drop your child off at a childcare centre. You may not want to but because of work and a lack of other care options, you have no other choice. As there are many care centres, you will need to look at your child’s needs and find the best option. Is the centre close by? Will the centre offer food? Are there learning opportunities? Are the staff members trustworthy? These are just some of the questions that will come to mind. Once you find your top childcare centre choice, you will have to think about how your child will react to this new environment. It can be an uncomfortable experience, especially since you won’t be there by their side. Every child will be different when preparing them for childcare centres but below are some tips that can help make this transition easier and less worrisome for you.
1. Visit the Childcare Centre
If possible, try to visit the childcare centre with your child so that they can become familiar with the new environment. Ask the staff member to show you around. Where is the toy area? Where are lessons held? Where is the designated lunch area? Which staff members will interact with my child? When it’s time to drop your dear son / dear daughter, he / she will be able to recognize the staff members and other aspects of the centre.
If a physical tour isn’t possible, ask for a virtual tour. For example, when the video shows the centre’s play area, you can mention to your child that this is where they will get to play with different toys.
2. Practice Building Independence
Your child may not be used to a new environment immediately. That’s normal. This is a part of growing up and gaining social independence. They are used to seeing your face, other family members (like their grandparents) as well as close family friends at home. To help reduce separation anxiety, try to take your child to different environments with different people there. For example, if you have a trusted friend that your child isn’t familiar with, visit them and let your child interact with this new environment and person.
3. Emphasize the Fun in Childcare Centres
Initially, your child may think that childcare centres will be boring and scary. To help them feel comfortable, mention the fun aspects of the centre. Talk about the new toys your child will be able to play with, the new activities they could do, as well as the new friends they could make. Repeat these messages daily up to 7 days prior to the transition period. You can also find tv shows, books, or other sources of entertainment that your child is familiar with, that show how much fun going to a childcare centre could be. For example, Franklin Goes to School shows how school and centres can be a fun place for kids to learn and make new friends.
4. Allocate Extra Time for Drop Off
When you start dropping your child off at the centre, leave yourself extra time. It may be difficult for your child to leave you and be in an environment with new people. By arriving early, you reduce the chance of a stressful drop off. Eventually your child will get used to their new routine and environment.
5. Give them their Favourite Things
Your child may have a number of items that they love – a toy, a book, or even a snack; something that makes them feel a sense of security and comfort. When your child goes to the centre, they can bring this with them and will have a familiar item that will make them feel more comfortable in the space. Before you let your child bring something from home with them, double check with the centre staff to see if that is alright.
6. Phase the Start of Childcare
Instead of dropping your child off at the centre every day of the week initially, try to phase the start. By starting off with dropping your child off for only a few days of the week, it can help your child slowly become comfortable and less overwhelmed at the centre.
Transitioning into childcare can be a difficult experience for both you and your child. But know that you are not alone. Childcare centre staff members have experience with these situations and can help you with this transition. Your child will become accustomed to the new routine. You can’t wait to hear all about their new friends and adventures at the centre.