Updated: Feb 11, 2019
Childcare is a big step for your child, and entering it can be a daunting experience for both of you.
Fortunately, you can make your child’s first childcare experience less traumatic by preparing them for it ahead of time.
The key to getting them ready for childcare is familiarising them early on with what they’ll encounter at your chosen centre. By giving them an idea of what they’ll be doing once they start childcare, they can transition to regular care more smoothly and with less fear.
Here are ten great ways to prepare your child for childcare:
Role-play. Role-playing is one of the best tools for helping your child familiarise themselves with what childcare is like. By playing the role of a carer and doing activities that they’ll encounter at the centre, your child will feel less intimidated when it’s time to do it there.
Set a regular sleeping schedule. Sleeping and waking up on time is one of the first things that children need to learn when they enter childcare, so it’s important to build this habit early. Set regular sleeping and waking times several weeks before their first day, so they’ll find it easier to adjust to their new daily schedule.
Create a morning routine. Whether you child goes to childcare in the morning or in the afternoon, it’s important to create a morning routine to help them adjust to their new normal daily life. Create a morning routine beforehand and follow it regularly to help your child develop good morning habits.
Talk about childcare and school at home. Don’t make childcare a surprise for your child. By talking about childcare and bringing it up several weeks before they start, they can understand that this event will eventually come, and they won’t be blindsided when it does.
Familiarise them with the centre. Schedule a few visits at the centre to acquaint your child with the carers and the centre itself. The more familiar they are with the place and the people, the less likely they’ll get scared on their first day.
Socialise with other kids. Because childcare often involves playing and socialising with other children, it’s important to help them develop their social skills early on. Schedule playdates or playgroups with other children ahead of time to help your child get used to playing and being with other children.
Let them get used to being without you. One of the biggest challenges of childcare (for both you and your child) is being separated from each other for long periods of time. To make this process easier, it helps to familiarise your child with being away from you before they start childcare. Make sure your child has had the experience of being cared for by others such as friends and family, for both short and long periods of time. That way, they’ll be used to the idea of being cared for by someone other than yourself, well before your first childcare visit.
Establish a goodbye routine. Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things you’ll need to do on their first day. Practice this moment in advance by creating a proper goodbye routine several weeks beforehand. Say goodbye with a smile and positive feelings, and reassure them that you’ll be back. Don’t forget to leave with a kiss and a hug, and avoid looking back as you leave. Whatever you do, do NOT sneak away from your child – this can be traumatic for them and make them distrustful in the future.
Read to them. Childcare often involves plenty of story time sessions, so get your child acquainted with this activity by reading them books and reading materials (if you haven’t already). Some children’s books even tell stories of children going to childcare or school, allowing you to hit two objectives at the same time.
Be excited. Children can sense your emotions better than you think. The more excited and positive you are about them entering childcare, the less likely they’ll feel anxious or nervous. Assure your child that childcare is good for them and that there’s nothing to worry about, and they’ll feel less scared about it when it’s time to go.
Need More Advice?
If you need more tips and information on how to prepare your child for childcare, don’t hesitate to contact us. You’re also more than welcome to visit us at our centre in Ascot, which is perfect for parents and families in Eagle Farm, Hamilton, Albion, and Hendra. We’ll be more than happy to help you give your child the best start to childcare that they can have.