Almost half of Australian children are in some form of child care, which makes it a natural part of being a child. You spend time with mum and dad; then you learn vital life skills such as sharing and early socialization by attending child care.
If the time has come to begin planning for your child to attend child care, it’s time to enact a game plan. The last thing you want is your child believing you’ve abandoned them in a strange place with strange people, and that you’re never coming back! Here are a few helpful tips.
Begin Talking About It Early On
Rather than spring child care on your children a week before it’s due to begin, prepare them by including it in conversation weeks out. It could be something as simple as saying “you’ll get to play with this when you’re at kindergarten as well,” as they play with playdough at home. Or, when you’re helping them get dressed in the morning, “maybe you’d like to wear this when you go to kindergarten”. When the time comes to walk through those front gates, they won’t be shocked or overwhelmed by the situation.
Include them in Preparation
When you first start taking your child to a care facility, you will no doubt need to make a few purchases. A backpack, lunch box, and drink bottle are all must-haves for attendance. Where possible, include your child in the purchasing decision. Take them to the shop with you and explain what you need to buy and why you need to buy it. Within reason, let them choose a backpack and accessories they will be excited to use on their first day.
Some care facilities offer the option of attending for half days or having visits before the official day of enrolment. These visits are crucial for helping your children become familiar with their new surroundings. What’s more, if you’re able to leave them there for a few hours then return for them, they will begin to understand that you’re coming back to collect them.
Don’t Sneak Away
For children who find it hard to say goodbye and don’t want you to leave, it can seem like a good idea to sneak out of the facility when they’re not looking. In those early days when your child hasn’t made many friends and isn’t familiar with the environment, it can be tough on both the parents and the children.
However, if you believe avoiding the hard goodbyes and sneaking out is the best idea, it’s not. When you choose to leave, and your child doesn’t see you go, you can be damaging their trust. Instead, tell them you need to go to work and that you’ll be back to pick them up after they’ve had heaps of fun.
Preparing your children for child care is not a five-minute job, nor is it something you can do at the last minute. When you begin putting steps in place to enrol your children in care facilities, start the preparation process immediately. The more they know about it, the easier the transition will be.