Childcare is a big transition for a child of any age. Once you confirm that your child is starting care, there are some helpful things you can do to prepare them for this transition.
Remind your child that mum and dad won’t be with them during the day. Name the educators who will be, and reassure your child that the educators can help them with problems that mum and dad usually would, while they are in care. Sometimes children don’t know who to ask for help when mum or dad aren’t there.
- For example bathroom toilets are often smaller at a long day care centre so they won’t have a step or seat attachment like they do at home but they work the same.
- Often meals are made at the Centre and may look different to how they appear at home and they will be presented on a different plate.
- Give your child an idea of what to expect, explaining that there will be times for playing, times for eating meals and times for sleeping or resting.
Talk about the different items as you pack them, labelling what they are and the routine times they will be used (all ages). Some ideas include: bed sheets for rest time, a sun hat for playing outside, a change of clothes for after messy or water play (some children need to know it is ok to get “dirty” and that they can change if needed), a water bottle for when your child is thirsty and a comforting toy in case your child feels sad.
It is likely that your child will become distressed separating from you
- Always say a clear goodbye. If your child is happily playing and you disappear without saying goodbye, this can create feelings of mistrust.
- Reassure your child that you will return and give an identifiable timeline. For example ‘after afternoon tea you will have a play and then mum/dad will be back to pick you up’. This is better than saying you will be back “soon”.
- Once you have said goodbye (as above) to your child, if they are distressed give them to an educator for a cuddle and go. Do not return if they become overly distressed and call out for you as this gives them mixed messages. If you return or repeatedly say goodbye this can lead to mistrust, confusion and create further separation anxiety in the future.
- Write out your child’s usual routine at home so it can be followed at the Centre to provided consistency.
- Write a list of your child’s interests, likes, dislikes and fears so the educators are familiar with your child.
- Provide a copy of your child’s immunisation history statement and any medical conditions/allergies with the relevant action plans (all ages).
- Go inside the Centre grounds and introduce your child to the educators. If your child sees that you are comfortable around the educators they are more like to be open to them.