Starting Childcare and Pre-school can be hard for everyone. There are a few tips and tricks that can make the transition a smooth as possible. The main goal is to take away any fear or anxieties for both parents and children.
Adjusting to a new routine
Find out from the Childcare and Pre-school what their routine is like how they run their day and most importantly topics of the current programs so you can introduce and discuss these before your child’s first day. This will enable them to be up to date with what’s happening in the classroom when they arrive and take any fear of the unknown away.
Discuss these changes in routine with your child, no matter how old, consistency is key when setting up a routine for your child.
Set realistic expectations! As parents, we all want the first day start perfectly, although, it is normal for both you and your child to be feeling anxious about your new learning adventure. That is why we recommend orientation sessions and having conversations about childcare with your child before they start.
Preparing for social interactions
Talk to your Child about making new friends, find out the names of the educators and Teachers in the setting and talk to your child about them. Discuss the things they might like to play with their friends, discuss activities that they may have set up within the room so that your child know what will be there and can make sense of their new social environment. Discuss sharing ideas and talking to new friends, even small details about saying hello and introducing themselves to the group, the more information your child has about their new social environment the more they will be at ease.
Packing for the first day
Create a list of everything you will need with your childcare educators during the orientation and check it off with your child before bedtime the day before. Try to pack everything the night before so you are not rushed that very first morning. For older children, get them to pick out a special ‘childcare’ backpack and let them pack everything with you. This will give them some sense of responsibility and help reduce tears on the first day. Some things you may look to pack on your first day are below;
- Comfort toys / blanket
- Dummies (always pack extra!)
- Water bottle / Sippy cup
- Bottles with caps – enough for all bottles throughout the day
- Formula – If not using the centre formula
- Change of clothes x3
- Jumper / Raincoat – Melbourne weather can be quite unpredictable
- Extra socks
- ‘Wet Bag’ or plastic bags for soiled, wet or dirty clothes
Dealing with separation anxiety
It is important to remember that it might take your child a few days to settle in, so continue to remind them why childcare is fun and exciting. There may be moments where your child becomes emotional about leaving you, this is normal for children who may be entering a learning environment for the first time.
Remember that children need consistency, especially when dealing with separation anxieties. It is important to create this consistency from day one to reduce anxious feelings and help your child transition smoothly. One of the ways you can be consistent is by always being there at a ‘regular’ pick up time (e.g. before afternoon tea or after late snack) and dropping your child off at a similar time each morning. Maintain a regular night-time routine, discuss your day at work and ask questions about your child’s day at Childcare, this will help in your child gaining an understanding of your daily routine and their own routine.
Helping your child feel comfortable in a new environment
Talk to your child on the way to and from Pre-school, discuss with them the days activities, who they will or have played with, any new friends they have made, discuss with them the routine, when you will be there to collect them at the end of the day.
Always say Goodbye! It is extremely important to say goodbye to your child every day and not just sneak off once they are having fun. By saying goodbye, you leave your child with trust of knowing you will return, give them a ‘landmark’ time of when you are likely to return, such as: “When you finish afternoon tea, I will be here to pick you up”
If you have not often left your child before, start practising saying goodbye and returning at home, this could be any time you leave a room and return, by doing this your child will start to understand that every time you say “I’m leaving” you will return.