Whether you are returning to work or transitioning your child into care for their social development, the guilt and anguish can still be present. Firstly let me just say, this is completely normal! It is OK to feel nervous about those first days. But let’s think about your Little Miracle for a moment, they are (or will) feel all of those things, just without the bigger picture understanding that an adult has. Every child is different and responds differently to change you may find your child separates quite happily, cry for the first few times, prolong the time before you can leave or refuse to leave the car. These can all be normal signs of children transitioning into care.
We have put together a couple of points that we believe (and have seen the proof) that help children transition into care as smoothly as possible, whether for the first time or after their ‘honeymoon period’ has worn off.
- You are a very important factor in how your little one adapts to childcare. Children can tell if a parent is not comfortable leaving. If you’re anxious, they will be too, it is important to talk to your child in a positive manner throughout this transition. The child benefits greatly from talking about why you’re leaving, when you’ll be back, what they will be doing for the day, even talk about what they are going to enjoy for lunch. Routines and timing can be very important for many children so try as much as possible to be consistent with timing of when the child is dropped off and picked up. If there is a change, talk your child trough the situation or ring the centre and an educator will be able to talk with your child for you. This is especially important to create a routine at the beginning of the transition.
- Visit the centre. It is important for your child to be familiar with their surroundings. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with your child’s room and outdoor play area. This is as unique as each family’s individual needs. Your child might just need an orientation around the centre when you are dropping the paper work in or your child may need further reassurance and therefore planned visits where you and your child experience the morning routine in their room. These can be excellent opportunities for you and your family to become acquainted with the environment and staff and in addition will give you a point of reference when you talk about where your child will be staying. We recognise at this time of the year there may be a number of families who have already started however if your child is past the ‘honeymoon stage’ and is finding it tricky to settle in the morning, we still recommend that this be strategy utilised by families.
- Explain the routine. It is important for your child to know what to expect. You can help by making your child aware of aspects of the day. Talk to your children about the daily routine. You can find out your child’s room routine through our welcome packs. If you would like another please talk to your educator or attend our parent information night. The routine of your child’s day is also displayed in their room.
- It can be helpful to create a ritual or routine for your family when saying good-bye. Some children know they get a certain number of hugs and kisses before walking parents to the door, or look forward to waving until parents are out of sight. It is important to do what is right for your family as everyone is unique. It is also important to be consistent when saying good-bye. One strategy is to find an activity that your child is interested in settle them in and then say good bye, it can sometimes help if you settle your child at the same activity each week as this provides consistency. It is important to say goodbye to your child. If you slip out without saying goodbye it can undo all of your great work as your child is unaware of when you left and when you are coming back.
- If your child has a special security item, it can help to have something special from home, such as a blanket or stuffed animal especially during the “goodbye” transition. Studies have shown that babies can be calmed when there are pictures of family members or familiar objects around.
Again each child is unique so please remember the educators are here to help you and your family settle in. If at any time you have concerns please call us and we are more than happy to help you any way we can.