Regardless of your child’s age when they enter daycare, baby steps are key to an easy transition. Babies and toddlers thrive on routines, and a disruption to their regular schedule will cause stress. However, parents can minimize this stress—for themselves and their children—by introducing daycare slowly and making the right preparations. When children are familiar with some aspects of daycare, the unfamiliar aspects will seem less frightening.
Daycare should be framed as a positive experience. Young children, even babies, sense and understand when a parent is anxious, and taking time to cope with personal obstacles will help parents ease the transitions for their children. Emphasize that daycare will be fun, and project happiness and excitement. Even if the child is too young to fully understand, they will understand moods and behaviors. See our previous blog for parents making the transition to help ease your fears.
Unknowns are innately frightening to all humans, but even a small amount of familiarization can go a long way in terms of comfort and security. If possible, adjust a walking route to walk by the daycare center and take time to show your child the building. Arrange a playdate or an afternoon at the park that is close to the daycare center.
Since routines play such an important role in a child’s life, it is important to strictly follow these schedules. Even when children cannot tell time, they will know if you are late by the activities going on around them. Arrive at the same time and pick your child up at the same time and he or she will feel a sense of order, safety, and confidence.
Even if you are in a hurry, it is important to give your child a gentle transition each time they arrive at daycare. Tell them where you are going, assure them that you will be back, and give them a hug and a kiss. While adding to a constructed, secure routine, this also shows the child that everything is normal and reinforces their trust.
Most children show a strong preference for a few favorite items, whether it is a special blanket, a stuffed animal, a sippy cup, or a special toy. Being separated from these items creates unnecessary stress, while bringing them along will further reassure them. This again reduces the strangeness of a new place, reinforces a routine, and shows them that they are not very far away from home.
Pack items for daycare the night before and make sure that you have everything you need, including any medicines your child needs, snacks, toys, blankets, extra clothing, sunscreen, outdoor gear, and diapers, wipes, pacifiers, bottles and milk for babies. Looking around for lost items and running late creates stress and anxiety for parents and children, while a full stock of necessities will ensure you and your child are confident and well-prepared.
The experienced, knowledgeable daycare teachers at Heaven’s Elect are here to help you child make an easy transition into daycare. We know that this is a difficult time for many children, but we are here to help! Contact us to learn more about our facility, the skills your child can gain from daycare, and arrange a visit.