Transitioning to Day Care | Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Move!
New to the day-care scene? No need to fret! Your little sweetie is in good hands. While it may take a few weeks for everyone to get on a regular routine that brings comfort and confidence, there are some things you can try to ease the transition! Check them out!
1. Visit the Daycare Prior to the First Day
Many facilities will allow you to drop by several times with your child prior to their official first day. This may be recommended because it helps your child become familiar with caregivers, the noise level, the location of their room and the restroom, as well as check out the playground and get a glimpse of the other children.
Stepping into a daycare for the first time can be a very overwhelming experience. However, when you schedule a few short visits, your child will feel comfortable because you are still with them and may even get excited about their official first day.
2. Label Everything
Even the most seasoned day-care facility isn’t perfect and items can get lost in the shuffle. Be sure to use a permanent marker to label all of your child’s items-from jackets, to lunch bags, and sleeping mats.
3. Pack Lunch at First
If this is the first time your child is away from you in a brand new place, they may feel shy, nervous, and afraid. By packing them a lunch for the first few days, they have some comforts from home in front of them and you know they are more likely to eat things that you know they like. Eventually, their curiosity will overtake them as they watch the other children eat the day-care's breakfast, lunch, and snack, and will be more likely to want to dig in as well once they feel comfortable with their new placement.
4. Pack a Picture
Many older toddlers and pre-schoolers can get stuck on separation anxiety when they go to day-care for the first time. You may consider sending in a picture that fits perfectly in their pocket or their backpack so they can pull it out when they miss you!
5. Send a Sleep Toy
Your child is going to be filled with emotions and will be overwhelmed and stimulated by all the new sights and sounds of a day-care. One thing they surely need is a nice nap. While it’s easier said than done, you can help ensure your child catches some zzz’s by sending a sleep toy in. Riff Raff is a company that has amazing sleep toys that aren’t just cuddy, but they give off a soothing white noise or sweet lullaby. This can bring some familiarity from home to school, providing them with comfort and a soft friend to snuggle with as they settle.
6. Make Sure Their Daycare Bag is Fully Stocked
As mentioned before, kids who go to day-care do the best when they have little comforts from home with them. Whether it’s a sleep toy, blanket, bedding, teether; you can stock up their day-care bag full of these items for wonderful workers to pull out when and as needed.
7. Don’t Dramatize Goodbyes or Hellos
Your child is going to take some major cues from you as you drop them off or pick them up. If you play it off like going to day-care is just something that has to be done and is now going to be a part of their daily routine, your child may adjust better. As hard as it is, hold in those tears, and don’t jump out of your skin when you pick them up. Simply give a hug, kiss, and send them on their way.
8. Practice Sharing
Social and emotional well being is essential for children who are transitioning to day-care. While they can play with whatever they want, whenever they want at home, day-care is another story. This may take some practice. Be sure to have plenty of playdates prior to the first day at day-care, and even do some role playing at home so your child can practice using their words, imploring their patience, and show kindness to others - this can help them be very successful when they are away from you.
9. Read Stories
Piggy backing off role playing with sharing and turn taking, you may want to read some stories to your child about going to daycare to help them understand what it’s like, what they will do and see, and how parents always come back to pick up their children!
10. Get on a Routine at Home
If you’re not already on a structured routine at home, you may want to get on one to make the transition to day-care a breeze. These facilities are very schedule oriented and they keep kids moving throughout the day from one activity to another. Breakfast, lunch, and snack are always served at the same time, and other times throughout the day are set-like outdoor activity time, music time, and art time. If your child isn’t used to being on a regimented schedule, ask the facility for a copy of their day time schedule so you can acclimate your child to what they’ll be doing!
In conclusion, going to day-care for the very first time can be a nerve wracking experience for everyone - not just a child! Consider these ten tips and tricks to ensure your child’s first experience at a day-care goes smoothly so they feel happy, safe, and confident as they gain more independence as they learn and grow!