10 Ways to Help your Child Settle into Care
Updated: Jul 24, 2021
We are not born knowing all the tips and tricks to help our kids navigate through life and that's why educating ourselves and trusting experienced educators makes our job as parents easier.
In this blog, we are sharing 10- ways to help your child settle into care after being the first period of their lives at home with you.
1. Children should feel safe and comfortable in their learning environment, so it can be helpful to familiarise your child with the educator and his/her home before care actually begins. Our educators are more than happy for you to visit their environment in advance of your child’s first day in care; and to prepare your child for a full day in care, our educators may also agree to start your child’s first days of care with fewer hours. Some of our educators prepare a photo book for the new child with a photo of themselves, the environment, and the other children that will be attending on the child’s days in care. The family is given this book during orientation visits in order to be able to prepare the child at home prior to their attendance. Parents can prepare their child for family day care by chatting positively about the educator, her home, as well as the expected activities and events during their day of care. The educators have found that when the child commences care they are settled and feel a sense of belonging in the environment immediately.
2. Children are welcome to bring with them their favourite comfort toy, rug, or teddy bear into care to feel at ease in their new environment. These are often great to help settle your child into care. The transition from home to care can be difficult for a child, so it is nice for them to have a little item that is a reminder of home.
3. Although you might also feel nervous for your child, it is important that you are confident and positive. Your child is always looking up to you as the first person they can trust, so if your child sees that you are nervous, they too are going to be nervous.
4. Generally, children settle into care more confidently if you can follow the same morning routine and keep changes to a minimum. I find that the days that I am rushing to get my daughter to care are the days that she will struggle with separation anxiety the most. Children learn from their experience of the world around them, and when their world is stable they are comfortable because they can know what to expect. For this reason, when you follow the same morning routine before care, your child will feel at ease because they know what to expect.
5. Try to avoid introducing major changes in your child's new routine. Changes such as attempts at toilet training, weaning off bottles and dummies should be delayed until your child settles into care; alternatively, pre plan these changes to occur before you start care.
6. Try not to delay leaving at drop off. Settle your child with your educator. Once you are prepared to leave, tell your child that you are leaving and that you will be coming back to pick them up. Say goodbye and go. Never sneak out of the door while your child is distracted. It may seem to work in the short term, but this will have long term consequences. If you leave without telling your child, your child will feel lied to, and that you cannot be trusted, which will make your child more dependent and clingy around you. A quick goodbye is the best goodbye. Although your child may take some time to settle into care without you, they will soon learn that 'going' is always followed by 'coming back’.
7. You are always welcome to call or text your educator during the day if you are feeling anxious or worried. When my daughter commenced care she would cry at drop off. As you can imagine, this would make me feel anxious and worried as I walked out the door. I would wait an hour and then call my educator to check in on her. Educators understand how difficult it is to leave your child, particularly if it is the first time. Rest assured we have all been there ourselves with our own children.
8. When you pick up your child, try to arrive a little earlier than pickup time. It is always nice to spend some time with your child at the service discussing what they did during the day. My daughter loves to show me all her artwork of an afternoon and it gives me an opportunity to spend a little time speaking to the educator about her day. Talk to your educator about your child's day and his/her experiences whilst in care.
9. If your children are like mine, they generally do not want to chat after care or school. So instead of asking “how was your day today?” I will ask “What was your favourite part of today?”
10. Keep open communication with your educator to discuss your concerns, no matter how small. You may wish to arrange a suitable time to call the educator during the day to discuss how your child is coping away from home. Communication between you and the educator is crucial to successful care. As your child develops and their needs change, it is important to regularly discuss your child’s new requirements.