Whether it is starting at kindergarten or childcare, there are some practical things you can do to assist your little ones to make the transition.
1. Help your child know what to expect.
Things are always less overwhelming when you are familiar with something. Starting a month or so before they begin, chat with your child about attending their new kindergarten or childcare and let them know what they can expect. There are various ways you can do this. For example:
- You might find it helpful to read stories about children attending kinder or childcare.
- Play with friends who are already attending childcare or kinder.
- Play games! Act out going to kinder or childcare in a game.
If possible visit your centre before your child is due to begin. Some children benefit from a gradual introduction to kinder or care sessions. For example, this may mean building up session lengths over a few visits. You might stay with your child initially and then gradually leave your child by themselves for longer sessions so they can start to form relationships with their teachers and educators.
2. Be consistent.
As much as possible have a regular routine on kinder or child care days. This will help your child to kno what to expect as well as assist to develop their independence skills. You might wish to develop special good bye words or a hello hug that you share with your child. A quick “Goodbye, I love you and I will see you after lunch,” might be all you need to say. We don’t recommend having a long drawn out goodbye or sneaking away without telling your child that you are going as this can create more confusion or anxiety. If possible, during this time of transition also try to keep daily routines, such as sleep and meal times consistent.
3. Be relaxed.
Often pick up and drop off times are crowded and noisy. If you can, time your arrival a little earlier when there is less activity so your child may feel less overwhelmed. In the first few weeks you may also want to slow down and relax your schedule in other ways. This might mean temporarily stopping doing extra activities, for example, holding off on Saturday sport, or other big changes such as implementing new household rules or beginning toilet training.
4. Use familiar or favourite objects.
Many children find it reassuring to take a favourite soft toy or other object with them to their place of care. Just please don’t lose them! Depending on the policy of your kinder or child care this may be something that stays in the bag (your child can go and cuddle it for reassurance when they need to) or something your child can take out and hold during the day. Alternatively, you might suggest to your child to take a favourite object to show and chat about with their teachers and educators.
5. Talk with your teachers and educators.
Chat with your teachers and educators about your own and your child’s concerns. Often they can help you with suggestions and also keep you updated with what goes on during the day when you are not with your child.
6. Be calm.
Children often pick up if you are anxious and will then feel anxious themselves. So, although we know sometimes this is much easier said than done, try and project a calm and happy outlook, particularly at pick up and drop off times.
We hope you enjoy this exciting new transition for you and your child!
Windermere Child & Family Services offer both Long Day Care and Family Day Care Services in Melbourne’s south east.