Making a big change to your child’s routine is always a bit daunting. After all, kids are creatures of habit, and a small tweak to their schedule can often affect their behavior and their emotions. So when you decide to enter your child into a childcare center, taking a few precautions can really smooth the transition!
Make a visit with your child. A few weeks before your child is due to start day care, bring him to the center to familiarize him with the classrooms, the teachers, and even the toys and activities he’ll experience. Making a few repeat trips will ensure that he feels comfortable with the environment before he begins full-time.
Have a conversation. Talk to your child about the new center she’ll be attending. You can tell her what to expect in terms of her new schedule, and who will be dropping her off and picking her up each day. You can discuss a few comfort items that she can bring with her from home. You can also read to her from a book that discusses beginning day care or preschool, like The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
Speak with the childcare center. Take a moment to meet with or chat over the phone with the teachers or the director of the childcare center. They will likely have their own strategies for helping new children transition into their center, and they can help you to understand some of their methods. That way, you’ll be working as a team to make this change easier on your child.
Behavioral changes are normal. Even if your child loves his new center and his new routine, you may discern some behavioral changes in the first few weeks. He may become more clingy, or need more of your attention than usual. He could become a bit grumpy, and his sleep might be disrupted slightly. These are all normal reactions to change, and will dissipate as he gets used to his new world.
Consider your own feelings. It’s normal for you, as a parent, to be a little ambivalent about taking these kinds of major steps with your child. While you may rationally know that center-based care will provide endless socialization and educational opportunities for your child, it’s also hard to change your family’s routine, and to pack up your child and send him our into the world each day. Your feelings are normal, too, and your confidence will grow as you see your child flourishing.
Childcare veterans, how did your children find the transition into center-based care? Share your own tips in the comments section!