It’s not always possible to stay home with your child until you both feel ready to separate during the day. And, we all know the first day you let your toddler go to daycare can turn out. However, it is possible to prepare your child to make the transition between home and daycare smoother. Every toddler can experience periods of anxiety around attending care at some stage. Think about the anxiety you feel when starting a new job or moving to a new area. In the same way, it takes time for kids to bond and feels comfortable with new faces. So, here are some practical ways to prepare your toddler for daycare.
Visit the Place Together
This is an important part of preparing your child for a new environment. Have a day to visit the school, introduce your child to their teachers, and take a tour around the place. Reassure your kid that they will be well cared for and will enjoy a fun day. Also, you should point out the artwork or toys in classrooms to get them more excited about the place. Multiple visits are especially valuable since little children often forget quickly. And, you might be working through your own anxieties too.
Use Positive Language
It’s important to speak positively about this new chapter. Talk to your child about what to expect and help them understand what role the teachers will play in school and their life. Discuss the fun of making new friends, singing songs, and how fun this experience is. Talk about what your child will be learning at school every week. For example, you can show and tell special events or daily activities according to the weekly themes. Reinforce these at home and your child will be fully prepared for what’s to come.
Makeup Songs about Daycare and have fun
Young children love singing and dancing, so you can try to sing songs about going to school and saying goodbye. Reciting letters of the alphabet, days of the week, and months of the year is also a great way to ease your toddler into the new environment of nursery rhymes. Even though you’ll be doing most of the singing, your kid will enjoy clapping along and make the connection as soon as they start daycare.
Adjust to the New Routine
Request a copy of the class schedule from the daycare and emulate the day’s activities at home. For instance, if breakfast is at 8am and nap time at 12pm, do the same with your toddler at home. Knowing what to expect allows your little one to feel more secure. If your baby still breastfeeds during the day, you can start pumping and introducing a bottle from now.
Take it Slow
Enrolling your child for half-day initially will help them get used to the play slowly but steady. And, when your toddler is more comfortable, let them go for a full day. You can also introduce a transitional object like a toy, something your kid associates with you home. This item plays an important role in helping them feel more settled in daycare. Also, provide the daycare with as much information about your child as possible, so they can help you make the first experience more comfortable for your child.
Save the Tears for Later
If you’re feeling emotional, your child will probably pick up on it, which will only heighten their anxiety. So, pay attention to your actions. It might be hard, but try to maintain composure until your little one is out of sight before turning on the waterworks. It’s important to model a sense of confidence and calm to your child because children are perceptive and will sense how you feel about the transition. However, it’s perfectly understandable if you need to take a private moment to acknowledge your own feelings about the change.
Keep Calm and Say See You Latter
It’s not unusual for some children to become upset when it comes to drop-off time. We suggest accepting any opportunity offered to go into the room and settle your child. Engage with them in a fun activity, or start a conversation with another child. Once children are engaged in play, it’s often easier for them to part with you. As soon as your child is settled, remember to hug and reassure them that you’ll be back. Babies and toddlers have no sense of real-time, so give a specific time like “I’ll be back after …”. Also, try to resist the urge to hang around after saying goodbye. Don’t worry, the staff will have myriad techniques for supporting your child through their anxiety.
When it’s Too Hard to Let Go?
If your child is experiencing ongoing tears and having a total meltdown, we suggest taking a step back to consider whether it’s a general anxiety problem about attending daycare or more about being separated from parents.
The goal is to prepare your child for what is ahead without making them too nervous or overly excited. When the time comes, a calm morning, instead of rushing out the door at the last minute, will help your toddler adjust quicker. This is a closer step of your child toward preschool, do it right and things will be way easier in the future for both of you! If you have any questions or stories to share, feel free to let us know in the comments!