How a toddler responds to their first day in a child care setting can vary wildly, from coming home excited to tell you about their new friends to coming home in tears begging you to never send them to daycare again. While some children have a tougher time adapting to new settings and experiences, there are specific things you can do to make the first day a more positive experience. Here are six tips for a happy first day of daycare:
Choose the Right Daycare
Choosing the right daycare for your child's unique needs and temperament will make a big difference in how well they adapt in the first days and weeks. Make sure to spend time checking out different child care options and reading reviews from parents.
Look for a daycare that is credentialed and certified, and is known for warm, empathetic, hands-on child care providers. If you are worried about your child feeling overwhelmed, you may want to seek out a smaller daycare or even an in-home daycare where your child will get more one-on-one attention in a calm environment.
Plan a Visit
Planning a visit with your child is a great way to help ease the transition, since you will be there with them during the visit. Give them a chance to explore and interact with the other kids, as well as get to know their daycare teachers. Point out features of the daycare you know they will enjoy, like a playground or play kitchen. Some daycares will even let you have a free trial day to make sure the facility is a good fit for your child before you commit.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Toddlers pick up on their parents' attitude, so if you are consistently upbeat and positive when discussing daycare, chances are they will be more excited and less fearful about their first day. Whenever you mention daycare, focus on positive things like how much fun they will have playing with their new friends, all the cool things they are going to learn, and how nice their teacher is.
Get Your Child's Schedule on Track
If your child is used to an unstructured schedule, daycare can be a bit of a shock to their system. In the days, weeks, or even months before they begin attending daycare it's a great idea to begin adapting their schedule to mimic what it will be like in daycare. Adjust their bedtime and morning routine so that they are already on the right schedule when daycare starts. You may even want to add a daycare-like routine to your child's days, including scheduled meal, play, and nap times.
Bring Items from Home
Ask your child's daycare provider which items from home are allowed or encouraged, and remember to pack a couple of items in their backpack on the first day. Having a favorite plush toy or doll, photo of their family, or blankie with them can help comfort your child and make them feel connected to home while in an unfamiliar setting.
Keep Your Goodbye Short and Sweet
Dropping your child off for daycare for the first time can be just as anxiety-inducing for you as it is for your child, but it's important to avoid letting your child see that you are sad or worried since this will affect how they feel about daycare. Aim to keep your goodbye short and un-dramatic, which signals to your child that going to daycare is nothing to worry about.
By following these tips, you will help ensure your child has a happy and positive experience on their first day at their new child care center like Learning Tree Schools.