Making the first day at childcare easier

How to make the first day at childcare comfortable 

The first day at childcare is a huge day for both child and parent. Working to a pre-prepared plan will help to make the day less stressful for everyone involved and help your child to transition to a new phase in their life.

 Preparing your Child

Starting childcare will affect each child differently, so predicting how they will react to their new circumstances is difficult. There are, however, a few steps that you can take to ease their anxiety and have them prepared for the big day. 

Do a Test Run

Familiarising the child with the childcare centre is one of the best strategies to settle new arrivals in childcare. Begin by talking about spending time at the childcare centre, and describing the many positive experiences that will be available to the child. Emphasise fun, friends and new activities. Then do a drive-by to show the child where the centre is. The drive-by will have a greater positive impact if you can contrive to drive past when the centre is populated with children playing. It may be possible to pay a visit to the childcare centre with your child before the commencement date. All of this should help to ease any anxieties for the child while prepositioning them for their first day of daycare.

Buy your Child their own possessions

Giving the child as much ownership of the day as possible is going to make them feel special and childcare seem exciting. One way to create that ownership is to buy items that the child needs and to involve them with labelling them with their name. It may seem a small thing, but it builds the feeling of being cared for and that childcare is an event to look forward to. 

Visit and Play

If possible arrange to bring your child to the childcare centre several times before they will be starting childcare. These short periods will help with familiarisation and make the first day of childcare that little bit easier.

The Night Before 

The night before will be a night filled with excitement and some anxiety. It may help to involve the child in packing their items before daycare. 

Some items that may be required are -;

  • Hat
  • Backpack
  • Comfort toy
  • Security blanket
  • Water bootle 
  • Spare change of clothes

The First Day

Settling children into childcare for the first time can be a challenge. Here are some handy rules to follow on that first day. 

  1. Know what time to arrive. Set your alarms and calendars to give you plenty of time to prepare and arrive nice and early. Arriving early not only sets a standard for the child to expect, but it also gives you plenty of time to say goodbye on the first day.
  2. Look for the childcare centre’s leaders or guides. The last thing you want to do is to leave your child feeling isolated and alone, so make a connection with one of the centre’s key staff and introduce your child to them. This will give the child some security, knowing that there is a helpful and friendly adult to help them.
  3. Be realistic about your child’s response. Most children take some time to adapt to their new situation and there are likely to be some issues over teh first couple of days. Emotional and anxious responses are normal. It is important not to dismiss these responses, but to acknowledge them and reassure the child that there are a lot of positives about starting childcare. 
  4. Make it a quick goodbye. Make sure that you do say goodbye, but don’t linger unnecessarily. If the child is anxious, it may help to involve one of the childcare centre staff in your conversation, so that the child can associate with another caring adult  It is really important not to sneak away, as this may prolong issues associated with the drop off for some time. 
  5. Follow the same daily routine. Routines are important and establishing them from day one will help the child to adapt more quickly to childcare. Routines can be established by -:
  • Being reliable with pick up and drop off times.
  • Asking about the child’s day
  • Having some fun activities after childcare
  • Unpacking and repacking all required items.

The first day at childcare is a memorable one. By following the guidelines above, you will minimise the anxiety and stress that can be felt by both parent and child.