Whether your child attends full-time care while you work, or just goes to the nursery while you worship, it’s important to establish routines to assure your child feels safe in the temporary care of others.
My experience as a former nanny will guide you to foster independence in your young ones. As a parent, you want to develop comfort in a classroom routine to prepare them for a lifelong love of learning. These tips will help ease the transition to being cared for by others.
Reassure predictable behaviour
Explain to your child that they will wake up tomorrow, play with friends at school, have a nap, and then you’ll be back to pick them up. Even pre-verbal kids will internalize the cadence of the sentence and begin to pick up on the order of events. Repeat the story in the car on the way to school in the morning, and reassure them after you pick them up that you followed the routine.
Don’t let your ambivalence show
It’s natural for parents to feel conflicted about leaving a child in the care of others. You must show confidence in the staff as well as the ability of your child to handle the setting. Kids can sense if you’re upset and might channel that emotion into the drop-off routine.
You’ve done your due diligence in selecting the best care centre for your child, so assure yourself that what you are feeling is separation anxiety, not a lack of confidence in the staff. That said, don’t be afraid to trust your gut feelings.
Create a goodbye ritual
Create a consistent goodbye ritual to create a fuss-free drop off. That might mean giving a high-five, saying, “I love you,” or a kiss on both cheeks — whatever feels natural to the parent and child. Repeat the routine each time, so your child expects it.
Read a book like The Kissing Hand at home to establish a routine. Placing a kiss in your child’s palm can make the goodbye easier on both of you.
Pack a lovey or pacifying object
A familiar object from home will provide comfort. Many children will self-select an item like a stuffed animal, blanket, or pacifier. Their choice of soothing will typically correspond with a lifelong sensory calming technique that can be adjusted as they age. For example, babies who use pacifiers can be transitioned to biting jewellery or sucky sweets at an older age.
Ease into full-time care
Experienced care centres like Early Learning Centre Perth will recommend a gradual start, beginning with either a couple of half days or starting mid-week, so your child doesn’t immediately start a five-day-a-week, full-time schedule.
If you have the option to start with half-days and build up to longer days over the course of a week, it would be wise to do so. The sensory input can be exhausting to new attendees. Ideally, the transition should include daily attendance so that the routine becomes expected.
Crying is a release
Most kids adjust to the routine of care within four weeks. Expect them to decompress upon pickup on a daily basis at least through this stage, although some children continue tears daily until their verbal abilities offer an alternative. It’s not a sign of unhappiness; rather it’s that they need to let go of the emotions involved with facing a social situation.
Develop flexibility and adaptation
Young children need to learn to spend time in a classroom setting and be comfortable before starting primary school. Assure your child of their safety during temporary separations to foster long-term independence, and they’ll adapt more easily to different social situations where there might be different rules than at home.