Starting daycare is a stressful time for both parents and children. For parents who want to avoid separation anxiety and tears (on both sides), there are some steps you can take before the big day.
Visit the daycare with your child – before the first day
Transitioning to a daycare is a stressful change for any child, even infants. If your child recognizes the space and the faces around them, that will help immensely on their first day. Before your child’s start date, bring them to the daycare at least a few times so they can get familiar with the space and their new teachers.
Pay attention to the small details – before they become big problems
Schedule a time on-on-one with a teacher or director to run through everything before the big day. You’ll want to discuss details like:
- Does your child have any dietary restrictions or medical conditions, and how will the daycare center accommodate?
- Are special objects/toys/stuffed animals allowed?
- Who will be the primary caregiver for your child?
- What are your child’s sleep habits like? (Do they need to be rocked to sleep, hear a special song, etc.)
- What is the transition policy of the daycare center? (Some centers require parents to stay for an hour or more on the first day).
Getting these details ironed out before will help both you and your child be prepared.
Prepare at home – but make it fun
One significant way to prepare children is by demystifying daycare. Talk openly and honestly about school and your child’s feelings. It’s ok for your child to be nervous – and for you to be nervous as well! It’s important that you don’t dismiss these feelings but also focus on the new and exciting parts of starting daycare as well. Read books or watch tv shows together about children starting preschool. You can also make school fun by playing pretend school.
It’s also critical to discuss routine with your child so they know where you’ll be going and exactly when you’ll be back. This will ease the uncertainty during their time at daycare.
Don’t sneak out – but don’t prolong the goodbye
When the big day comes, saying the first goodbye is the most difficult (and most important). Remind your child of the routine you have planned. It will be hard to walk away, but it’s important to give your child a firm, loving and face-to-face goodbye. It can be tempting to slink away while your child is distracted or happily playing, but this can lead to anxiety and a potential meltdown. Instead, calmly say goodbye and once you leave the room, don’t come back in. It’s hard to resist the urge to want to comfort your child, but re-entering the room can create confusion. Trust in your daycare provider to sooth your child.
Remember: it will get easier. It’s also perfectly normal for goodbyes to be rough or for your child to take a while to settle into their new routine. If you need support, know that your daycare provider is in your corner. Our caring staff at Riley Crossing has years of experience helping parents like you through this transitional time.
We are now taking applications for Fall 2019 and beyond for: