The idea of leaving your child in day care for the first time can be tough for both parents and children –parents often talk about it with guilt and trepidation. But that initial transition from home to care doesn’t have to be a negative experience, and certainly shouldn’t be something to feel guilty about. In fact, with the right approach and preparation, it can be smooth and stress-free for everyone involved, and it can offer your child remarkable social and developmental benefits they wouldn’t get at home.
Here are a few tips for a smoother transition:
1. Take it slow.
A gradual approach works best. Helping your child feel happy and comfortable without you starts well before you leave him or her in someone else’s care. Spend some time at the day care together in the weeks leading up to the big day, and give your child some time to get used to the new environment while you are there. It’s a great opportunity for you to see firsthand how teachers and caregivers interact with the children, and also a chance to tell them everything they need to know about your child.
At Childventures, parents and children join us for a couple of morning or afternoon “playdates” in which the parents stay in the classroom while the child gets involved. Not only does this give children a sense of comfort and stability, it gives parents and teachers a chance to build a trusting relationship with each other. You can see how teachers approach education, skill building, playtime, naptime and more. It’s also an opportunity for the teacher to get to know their newest arrival, learn about eating and sleeping schedules, and establish a careful, personalized curriculum that will work with your child’s personality and developmental level.
And if you need more than two “playdates,” that’s fine too. We encourage you to do what feels right. Our approach is about making you and your child as comfortable as possible, and partnering with you and your family for a successful experience.
2. Don’t show your stress
Present the new place and routine in a positive light, and don’t let your child pick up on any negative feelings you may have about day care, or about going back to work. If they sense your misgivings, chances are they’ll end up feeling the same way, making the transition harder on all of you.
When parents drop off their children at Childventures, we welcome them with warmth and enthusiasm, and immediately offer them something engaging to do. This way, they focus on the fun of the activity, and not on the departing parent. If your child does cry as you’re leaving, we encourage you to give them a hug and reassure them, and then leave without showing your anxiety. The teacher will take over from there, and comfort your child as you depart, and get him or her involved in an activity as quickly as possible.
3. Stick to a schedule at home
Children are reassured by routine, especially when another part of their life is in transition. A consistent bedtime and going-to-bed routine are good ways to give them the structure they need. Whether it involves a bath, reading, cuddling, a snack, or just some quiet time, it’s a wonderful way to connect with your child and give them the sense of consistency they crave. Focus on getting your child to bed early enough that he or she can easily wake up to a relatively unhurried morning, and face the day well rested.
4. Check in often
Parents sometimes experience more separation anxiety than their children. The solution? Don’t just reassure your child; reassure yourself. Check in during the day. Talk to the teacher. Observe your child at play. You’ll likely see that your son or daughter is adjusting beautifully, and having a great time with other kids.
At Childventures, we’re always open to having parents come in and talk, observe or volunteer. We also offer a secure webcam feed where you can log in any time of day and watch your child in real time. Plus, you can also be reassured in knowing that our facilities have a wide range of features to keep your child safe, including biometric hand scanners that ensure only registered families have access to the building.
When your child is prepared for day care, and you as parent are comfortable with the knowledge that your little one will by well cared for by warm, capable teachers, the transition is easier. There may still be a few tears, but rest assured that they won’t last long – and that your child will be playing and happily thriving, probably faster than you expect.
Do you have more questions about easing the transition – or about Childventures in general? We would be happy to answer your questions. Please feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch with one of our child care professionals directly.