How to prepare your child for daycare
We are just 3 weeks before school starts as a new academic season. If you have children this period could be a stressful one because as parents you wonder how to prepare the children for childcare. Moreover, what if your child had never visited any childcare before?
As a Registered Early Child Care Educator, RECE for short, I have encountered many parents who have no idea what to do in this situation. Let’s deconstruct this area inch by inch so you can have a peace of mind. By consulting what our Ontario Government is advising we conclude:
Before starting care
- Visit the child care provider with your child to meet the caregivers and the other children to help them become more familiar with their new setting.
- For older children, talk about the child care program, the people there, and what they’ll do throughout the day
- If attending child care requires a new schedule (e.g., waking up earlier, eating breakfast at a different times), begin this new routine several days before starting care, to make the transition easier for your child
During first days
- Work with your child care provider on a plan for your departure when dropping off your child during the first few days/weeks
- If you can, begin care gradually (e.g., on the first day, take your child for an hour or so and then leave together; over the next few days, stay for several hours)
- As your child becomes more comfortable, gradually increase their time in care until your child reaches a full day
- Let your child know ahead of time that you will be going to work and when you will be back (e.g. after nap time)
- To help comfort your child, some programs suggest bringing a familiar item from home or a photo of family members
- Call your child care provider to see how your child is doing (this can help alleviate your own worries)
- Do your best to pick up your child at the time you said you would
- Transitions may also be stressful at pick-up time, and your child may express different emotions when you arrive (this is a normal part of getting used to child care)
These tips were recommended by the Government of Ontario at https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-prepare-your-child-child-care.
Of course we have much more insight about this period and we will share another list of 8 tips collected by the members of www.chirpingmoms.com, and specifically http://thechirpingmoms.com/8-tips-to-help-prepare-your-child-for/. Read on 🙂
1. Adjust your schedule 2-4 weeks before school starts. Make sure you get your child used to the routine of their preschool day. Plan lunch around the same time you will eat lunch on school days. Plan rest time around the same time that they will rest on school days. Helping them get used to the routine will help them transition smoother to the routine on school days. We even work on moving bedtimes up & rise a little earlier than usual so we are ready & eager for the first day of school!
2. Pick out a few special items for preschool. This could be new shoes, lunchbox, or a fun backpack with your child. Abby loves animals, especially dogs & cats so when we saw this Land of Nod kitty backpack, we knew that she would love to head off to preschool with a kitty on her back!
3. Play on the playground before school starts, especially during the summer before preschool starts! When we moved to our town two years ago, the new school playground was one of our favorite spots for the kids to play before they started at their new school. It helped them get used to the school area & they were excited to start school and be back on the playground every day. We also met other families and children that were also attending the school. (Just check with the school before you head over there as some schools do not allow this opportunity!)
4. Here are some of our favorite books for this young age to help with the transition to preschool:
Llama Llama Misses Mama: Anna Dewdney
I Love You All Day Long: Francesca Rusackas
The Kissing Hand: Audrey Penn
The Night Before Preschool: Natasha Wing
Maisy Goes to Preschool: Lucy Cousins
Fisher Price Little People, Let’s Go to School: Doris Tomaselli
5. Practice separation. Try to help your child get used to being dropped off & picked up (and you saying good-bye!). This could be at a gym daycare, grandma & grandpa’s house, or a church nursery. It helps so much for a child to already be used to this process before starting preschool, trust me! My oldest was so hard to separate from, but thankfully Abby has been left in care of family, friends, & more that she is totally okay with this transition which makes me feel more prepared for the big preschool day!
6. Talk about school experiences. The boys love to tell Abby about some of their favorite things about preschool: running on the playground, playing the drums during music class, & creating fun art projects with their teachers. We also have the eeboo Back to School Tell Me a Story picture cards where we can look at the different cards & tell stories about what we see. Talking with them about fun experiences is a great way to prepare for their new school year!
7. Try to think of simple ways to help them reassured. This could be packing a small lovey in the backpack for the day or establishing a goodbye routine. I have learned, over the years, to make the good-bye simple and sweet. Give them a kiss & tell them to have a great day and then leave (even if they are crying). Teachers know how to deal with the stars and most likely all will stop within several minutes, or at the worst several days but they will most likely adjust. Continue to be positive and uplifting about school and your kid will feel the same way!
8. Work on teaching independent age-appropriate skills with your child. At not even 2 1/2, we are working on very short directions including: cleaning up toys & listening to simple directions.