What to Expect from the First Day of Day Care

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Toddlers in day care centre

Many family members feel anxious about the first day of day care, and this is perfectly natural. There are many things at play as you take this important step, both for you and your child. Trusting the care of your little one to educators outside of your family is an adjustment that will likely take more than one visit, so give yourself time.

Feeling prepared and informed is a wonderful antidote to anxiety, and can help keep things in perspective. Here are some tips to help you manage before, on and beyond the first day.

Before

You may already know the child care centre and educators, and perhaps have even had an older child attend. This will give you a better idea of what to expect, and some pathways for communication.  If this is the case for you, put your child at ease by sharing conversations with an older sibling, looking over their art diary together, and discussing the fun things they did.

If this is your first enrolment in the centre, you will no doubt have spent some time reading about it, discussing care programs with the educators, and even visiting the centre.

Centres often have open days which your child can attend before enrolment.

On the Day

Each centre will have guidelines on what to bring on the first day. Generally, it would look like this:

  1. A small bag or backpack with your child’s name on it.
  2. A change of clothes.
  3. Sunhat, sunscreen, and water bottle.
  4. Morning tea and lunch, unless the centre provides this.
  5. A favourite toy or comforter (if you wish).

Note: When packing lunches for day care check with the centre to see if there are any children with allergies. If so you may need to leave eggs, nuts and seeds out of your lunches. Be mindful of making healthy choices, while still providing something you know your child will eat. Crackers, verge sticks, pikelets, and small sandwiches are nutritious and easy to eat. Alternatively, you could ask the centre about heating up leftovers.

Drop Off

Arriving with plenty of time for drop off will make things much easier. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing. If your child is anxious, clingy, or noticeably upset, have an educator or settling expert who will help you with the separation. The success of the first goodbye will depend on your relationship with your child. Many people find that an upbeat, reassuring and confident approach helps keep emotions in check.

If you leave before your child has time to become anxious, it may just pass altogether. For some children it doesn’t, and they may need you to stay and join in for a time.

After the First Day

When it comes time for pick up you may be surprised to find your child engrossed in play and unwilling to leave! This is common and a good sign. While there may be ups and downs, usually the stimulation and energy of a positive and caring environment will create a positive response in children on the first day.

Spend a moment checking in with the educator to see how it all went and if there is anything you should know about. They will likely give you an example of something positive from the day such as a new game or song, a drawing or new friend. This will give you a positive point of reference to talk about with your little one on the way home.

It is not unusual for children to hold it together until they walk in the front door and then completely fall apart. Try to remain patient and don’t take it as a sign that anything is wrong. Letting out emotion is great for kids, even if it’s not so easy on you.  Be sure to keep in contact with your educators if you have any concerns, especially as they often don’t arise until a couple of weeks into things.

If you would like more information on starting day care or to enrol your child, contact Hamersley Early Learning School.

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