The first day of day care is an exciting and often scary transition for families. To help both children and parents alike navigate the big day, Successful Parenting Today has put together our best tips for a great start to day care!
Prepare Your Child for the Big Day
The process of preparing your child for day care should begin well before the first day. Visit the day care center at least once with your child, and consider shadowing a class for a day if the center allows it. Go over the day care schedule with your child as many times as possible. And don’t wait until the first day to begin your new routine—adjust bedtime and wake-up time at least a few days before day care begins. Knowing exactly what is coming will help your child to feel comfortable and confident. Basically, the fewer surprises the better!
Allow Plenty of Time and Help Your Child Settle
Allow plenty of time to get ready for day care, so that your child doesn’t feel rushed on the first morning. Give her time to pick the right outfit, eat a good breakfast and adjust to the big day. Make sure that you also arrive at the center with plenty of time to spare, so that you can spend some time helping your child to settle in and become familiar with the surroundings.
When the time comes to say good-bye, it’s best to make a quick and final exit. You may prepare a routine ahead of time, so that your child knows you will be leaving after a big hug and a high-five. Even if there are tears, try to leave without coming back so that your child can begin adjusting and bonding with the caregivers. Trust your day care providers (your confidence will help your child feel safe) and give them a call if you need reassurance.
Transition Back to Home
A successful first day doesn’t end with a smooth drop-off. It’s also important to help your child transition from day care back to home, and the first step is returning on time. Knowing you will be there to pick them up at the same time every day helps kids feel at ease.
After the stimulation of day care, returning home can sometimes be difficult. Planning for a special activity or treat at home can help with this transition, and also be an opportunity to bond with your child after spending the day apart.
While the first day of day care sets the tone, the transition to this new lifestyle is not complete after one day. Your child may still have fears or concerns, and it is important to listen and to reassure them that these feelings are normal. Stick to the routines you have established in the upcoming days, until you and your child have fully adjusted to this major life change.
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