Settling into Childcare: Strategies for Success
For parents and caregivers who are new to childcare, or are preparing for this milestone, the most daunting adjustment for families can be the anxiety of being apart for the first time. Separation anxiety is common although easily addressed with a positive outlook and a few expert tips from professional educators, to help you reduce your nerves and feel excited.
This change can be as challenging for the child as the grown-ups involved. You may find that you both have an unexpected, emotional response. For this reason, it’s important to focus on the benefits so that all parties can quickly transition into a healthy, happy routine.
5 Tips For Minimising The Anxiety Of First-Time Childcare
Familiarise your child with the new environment in advance. Pre-plan a visit for your child where he or she can meet the educators and experience the environment for themselves. Talking with educators about what your child will be doing in advance, will build your confidence. If possible, drive past the location, point it out to your child and chat to them about the people they will meet, the activities they will engage in and the children they will play with. It will make the space feel safe so your child can look forward to this new milestone, minimising their anxiety and developing their understanding of the upcoming change.
Always be prepared works for boy scouts, and boy, it will work for you! Organisation and preparation is the key to minimising a rush on the morning of your child’s first day. Children are sensitive to the stress of adults, so the more organised you are, the more seamless you can make morning drop-offs. Prepare their backpack the night before, plan or lay out their clothes, and have a routine already in mind to get you from A to Z, making the morning stress-free for everyone involved!
Beating the blues
Remembering to pack a special, transitional object (like a favourite toy, photo or blanket) for your child to take helps them feel secure during the first stage. Photos of them on your desk or in your wallet, to take with you, will also help ease the separation. Everyone is likely to take some time to adjust to this new stage of life.
Keep calm, and say 'see you soon'
It may be tough, and there can be the temptation to sneak off, but a calm see you later, with a kiss and cuddle at drop-off, even if your little one is in tears, is what experts recommend. Assuring them that you will be back later and avoiding a drawn-out goodbye makes it easier for you both to get on with the rest of the day. Maintain your trust in the professionals you have chosen for your child. They will acknowledge and comfort him or her individually, supporting them to settle in and begin to explore new experiences and friends.
Debrief and discuss
Educators will be happy to share with you an update from your child’s day on pick-up. It’s important to continue the conversation with the child, asking questions about their day and learning about their feelings as they embark on this new phase. Positive chats will help your child adjust and understand the experience, while making you feel involved in their development. Every child and family is unique, so communication is the most effective way to navigate this milestone and address any lingering or emerging anxieties. This experience is new, but it can be exciting, and needs to be nurtured with the positive attention that it deserves.
Talk honestly with each other within the home, and draw on the support of the educators, who are highly experienced with the challenges of families and children encountering new routines. As you work together with your early childhood service, you will feel informed and empowered by the experience, so that you can be the best support to your child as they grow and adjust.
This article was provided by the early childhood education and care experts at Explore and Develop