Your child’s first day in an early learning centre is coming up soon. No matter how well you have prepared for this, it is natural to feel a little apprehensive when the time comes to do the actual drop off.
Here are some things you can do to minimise the tears and help your child adjust as quickly as possible.
1. Orientation visits
Orientation, if you haven’t done it already, is a good way to ease your child into a new environment. It’s like visiting a new friend and getting to know them so when the time comes for actual childcare, it won’t be a shock.
At Red Apple, we offer as many transition visits as you need. Usually, parents do two orientation sessions for about one or two hours. You can be with your child the whole time or you can step out of the room for a while.
During this time, your child can familiarise themselves with the room and you can discuss your child’s needs with the educators. It also helps that at Red Apple, we try to keep the same educators in the same room throughout the year. So your child will always come in to a friendly and familiar face.
2. Get organised early
There will be quite a few things to do to get your child ready for childcare. Get a checklist of all the things you need to do such as labelling jackets and other belongings, and getting a bag that will fit all their stuff. Get organised early to reduce unnecessary stress when the big day comes.
If you are new to childcare, packing for a day at childcare can seem like a huge task. Take care of all the little things the night before such as packing clothes or preparing milk bottles. If you are working, you will probably have a billion other things on your mind. The less you have to worry about the next morning, the more you can focus on your child.
3. Bring a comforter
Does your child have a special item that helps them calm down? It could be a dummy, a soft toy or a special blankie. Comforters are a great way to help your child settle when you are not around.
What else helps your child to calm down? Music, stories, cuddles, being outside? Talk to our educators so we can support your child in the best way possible.
4. Tell your child what to expect
If your child is a bit older, you can talk to them about what will happen in the early learning centre. For example, you can tell them the educators’ names and the rough schedule for the day.
You can tell them what to expect such as having playtime, having lunch, and having a nap. Let them know what time you will pick them up. If they don’t know the time, you can say something like ‘After afternoon tea’. You can also tell them what to do or who to ask if they need anything.
5. Make the most of your time together
After being away from you all day, your child will probably be looking forward to spending some quality time with you. It doesn’t have to be a big activity. In fact, most children will probably be quite tired after a busy day at the early learning centre.
You can build special bonding time into your evening routine with things like songs at bath time, playing games, and having lots of cuddles. If your child is older, talk to them about their day. You can use the activity notes from the early learning centre or chats with the educators to guide your conversations.
6. Say goodbye with confidence
When it is time to say goodbye, be firm and confident about it. Just give your child a quick kiss and a hug, and be happy to leave.
It may be tempting to stay and try to comfort your child if they are crying but this can send them the wrong signals. They might think, why is mummy (or daddy) unsure about leaving? Is there really a reason to feel unsafe? If you are happy and assured, your child will be too.
Quite often, children will stop crying within ten minutes of you leaving.
If you are worried, you can always ask us to give you a call if your child hasn’t calmed down after half an hour.
Red Apple is a small boutique early learning centre. Find out more about our family-centric environment and what makes us different.