How To Prepare Your Child For Childcare And How To Help Them Settle In
- Mums & Bubs
It’s no secret that starting and settling into childcare is a huge adjustment for many children, as they get to know new faces, new environments and new routines. While this is, by nature, a bit of a given there are some things that you can do to try and ease the process and make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your child.
Here are our best tips to help get you going.
What's the best age to start?
Every parent wants the best for their child, and might wonder about whether there’s a ‘best’ age for them to start childcare. The good news is doing what’s best for your child’s and family’s needs is supported by quality childcare. Families’ decisions about childcare will depend on their needs and preferences. Some may choose to send them when they feel they are ready for more social interactions with others, or see it as an important step in the year before they begin school. StartingBlocks.gov.au shares research that says that the quality of the childcare service your little one goes to is more important than the age they begin.
Things you can do at home to help prepare them
While there are no hard and fast rules about preparing your child for childcare, there are plenty of things you can do to try and help the separation go as smoothly as possible. First and foremost, StartingBlocks.gov.au says that leaving your child with grandparents or family friends for a couple of hours is a great way to get them used to your absence. Talking about childcare with your child and being super positive in how you speak about it will also let them know that you are happy and confident that they will have a good time and will be cared for. These positive emotions will really rub off on your child, and they’ll feel much more secure about the transition knowing that you’re feeling good about it.
Orientation days are also a wonderful way to get your child used to the setting, for short periods of time and with your presence. This way, your little one can begin to develop a relationship with the educators and meet other children at the service safe in the knowledge that you are close by and ready to support them if they need it.
Some tips to support your child when they first start
According to StartingBlocks.gov.au, it can be a good idea to begin with short days, and gradually increase the amount of time they spend away from you. This will get them used to the fact that you always come back to get them, and will help them to adjust to their new routine quicker. If they’re of an age where they can help pack their bag, this can also be a great way to engage them in going to child care and give them some control and choices about what to take. (e.g. which drink bottle or spare jumper they would like to take with them.)
Arriving early to drop your little one off to ensure you get to say a proper goodbye is also a great idea—so your child will feel eased-in and settled happily rather than abruptly left. StartingBlocks.gov.au says that you should say ‘goodbye’ confidently and reassure them when you leave that you (or someone else) will be back later to pick them up.
What to discuss with the educators before they start
Making sure the childcare centre is on the same page as you is crucial to smoothing the transition for both you and your child. Things to discuss with the educators before your little one starts include details around routines, sleep, feeding, toileting and behaviour management as well as any particular interests your child has that you’d like to be nurtured. You might let them know about ways to help make your child feel at home at childcare. Also establishing an open line of communication between the educators and yourself will help you feel more comfortable knowing that you'll be kept in the loop on your child’s day, and help you to start building your relationship with them.
What to do with your child after a day of childcare
After a day of childcare, it’s important to really encourage your child and tell them how well they did that day. According to StartingBlocks.gov.au, when you pick them up you should make sure you give them your undivided attention and hear all about the fun they’ve had learning and playing with their friends at childcare. It’s common for children to feel grumpy if they’re tired after a busy day, and always important for you to reconnect with them and shower them with your love.
How to build strong links between home and childcare services
Having a strong connection between home and childcare is a really important aspect of the settling-in experience and sets a good foundation for the relationships your family is building with the childcare service. StartingBlocks.gov.au encourages families to communicate openly from the outset about all of the experiences they’d like to remain consistent between the two settings—including behaviour, sleep and rest, hygiene and sun safety.
Ultimately, the key to maintaining consistency from home to childcare is to ensure open communication and good relationships between families, staff and children. As StartingBlocks.gov.au says, this will provide a strong foundation to develop partnerships, programs, experiences and routines that meet the needs of your child and family.
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