Get Your Child Prepared for Daycare & How to Help Your Child Adjust
Beginning daycare is a huge step for both you and your child. This is the first time your child has been in a new environment with others each day and spending time with a new caregiver. While this may be a new experience for your child, there are things you can do to help them prepare for their new experiences.
We’ve put together several tips to help you and your child prepare for daycare. Let’s get started!
1) Visit the Daycare for the First Day
The first thing to do is to visit the child's daycare center before the first day. This way your child has a chance to become familiar with the new environment, new people, etc. In fact, you and your child can meet the caregiver and the other children over the course of a few visits. Before doing this, it’s always a good idea to check with the daycare to see if they can set it up so you can visit a few times. More than one visit before the first day is optimal.
While you’re there the first time, take a few pictures of the way into the center, the entrance to the center and the room where your child will stay during the day. Then you can put the pictures together to form a digital book. Use the book to show your child the pictures at home, talk about how their day will go, the fun activities they’ll have, and more.
2) Talk with Your Child
Next, talk with your child about the new routine before it all starts. Explain what will happen in the morning before you leave, then traveling to the daycare, what happens while your child is there, and then explain that you’ll be there to pick them up each day.
Be sure to talk about how much fun your child will have playing with the other kids, all the fun activities, and more. And always end the talk saying that you’ll be back to pick them up each day and take them home again. You may need to have this talk over and over again. That’s OK, and works to reinforce these concepts for your child, so they can be familiar with the new routine before it even starts.
3) Build a Relationship with the Caregiver
It’s always a good idea to build a strong relationship with the caregiver(s) at the new daycare. Getting to know the caregiver(s) can also help reassure your child that these new people are safe and can be trusted. As you work to build a good relationship with the caregiver(s), also ask them to give you daily updates about your child, so you’ll have an idea of how things are going.
In addition, it’s helpful to discuss certain aspects of your child’s behavior with the caregiver. You may inform them about your child’s likes & dislikes, their temperament, etc. This information can help the caregiver know how to take care of your child in the best way possible.
4) Make a New Nap Schedule
If you have an idea of what time your child will be napping at daycare, it’s helpful to start them on the new nap schedule at home. This works best if there’s enough time before your child will start daycare. This could be done, for example, a couple of weeks before daycare starts.
5) Prepare the Night Before
Starting off on a new schedule can be challenging, so consider packing for daycare the night before. You can do this before the first day, but it can also be helpful to keep this routine every day. If you have everything done the night before, your mornings will be much easier.
You may need to take more than one change of clothing in case of potty accidents, spilled food, etc. Be sure to pack all diaper and bottle supplies, and enough breast milk or formula to cover the time your child will be at daycare.
One note, because your child’s belongings can easily be mixed up with other children, it’s a good idea to label everything. Label clothing, blankets, stuffed animals, diapers, food, and other supplies. Your child’s things will be less likely to get lost, and you’ll make the caregivers’ job that much easier.
6) Start a Morning Routine
Routines are a great way to ease a child’s anxiety. With a routine, your child will know what’s coming next, what’s expected of them, and more. Come up with a routine that works best for you both.
And remember if you do the packing for the day the night before, you’ll have a little more time in the morning. Doing everything possible to keep the morning easy goes a long way in keeping stress to a minimum for you and your child.
Preparing your child for daycare doesn’t have to be hard. Just make use of the tools you have, create some new routines, visit the daycare ahead of the big day, and talk with your child on a regular basis about their new daycare. This will all help get your child ready for the next big stage in their development and help them adjust to the new routine.