We get it. Sending your little one off to childcare for the first time is a major milestone – for you and for your child. And with all the uncertainty around COVID, the experience may seem even more daunting.
But we also know that childcare is a happy place, so here are some tried-and-tested ways to set up your child (and yourself) up for a smooth transition to an exciting and fulfilling new chapter.
Our top 10 things to do before sending your child to childcare are:
1. Secure your spot early
Quality childcare is always in high demand and some centres have long waitlists. It’s advisable to visit centres in your local area when you are pregnant to get a good idea of how they operate and what they offer. You should put your unborn child’s name down at several childcare centres in case your first choice is full.
2. Do your homework thoroughly
Childcare centres are not all the same. If possible, spend some time at the various centres in your area to get a good feel for the place. Things to look out for include the quality of the environment and the resources used, how the educators and support staff interact with the children, the nutrition programme, the approach to parental involvement, outreach programmes, incursions, sustainability practices etc. Ideally, the childcare centre should feel like a ’home from home’ where children (and you) feel happy, safe, secure, nurtured and loved.
3. Talk to your baby about childcare
Babies and children understand much more than we think. Talk to your baby or child about childcare early on so that you normalise the transition when it comes. Make childcare part of regular chats and give them lots of reassurance. For example ‘There’s cousin Camilla… she goes to childcare every day and has fun playing with lots of toys and doing fun activities with friends.’
4. Start the transition process early
If you’re going back to work after maternity or paternity leave, it’s best to start your little one at childcare at least a month before you return. This will give the family time to adjust and settle in to a new routine. It will also give you some breathing space to be flexible with timing in case you need an early pick-up, a delayed drop-off etc.
5. Do a trial run
A trial run will give you a good idea of how long you need to get the family ready in the morning and drive to the childcare centre. Also work out the time needed to get there from work (in case you need to get there in a hurry).
6. Expect tears
Tears are inevitable (theirs and yours). And the timing is often unexpected – like a few weeks after your little one has been going to childcare happily. It’s part of the process and it does get better!
7. Childcare can bring unwanted germs home
Childcare unfortunately means increased exposure to things like colds, conjunctivitis, nits, tummy bugs etc. Have a plan in case your little one gets sick and make sure you have a Covid plan for your household in case of isolation requirements.
8. Pack something from home in their bag
A favourite toy, a family photograph, a picture of their pet are some of the things you can put in your little one’s bag when they go off to childcare. This will give them comfort and a sense of security.
9. Make the goodbyes quick
A quick drop-off goes against all instincts – especially if there are tears or uncertainty – but it is best for everyone. Make sure they are in the caring hands of a teacher and then leave, otherwise their distress (and yours) can escalate.
10. Embrace the change
As tough as it is to start this next chapter, it is exciting. And it’s a necessary step for a child’s emotional, intellectual, social and physical development. Embrace the change – and enjoy the taste of some free time to do a bit more ‘adulting’!
We welcome you to experience life at our quality childcare centres in Bibra Lake, Fremantle, Mandurah and soon Piara Waters. Our centres are inspired by the acclaimed Reggio Emilia approach to early education and we’d love to show you around our loving, caring and nurturing ‘homes away from home’. Please get in touch and book your tour today.