YOUR CHILDS FIRST DAY
The first day of child care is a time of excitement and uncertainty for many families. It is common for children (and parents) to experience feelings of anxiety in the lead up to starting care. In children, these feelings are often caused by a fear of the unknown, as the child has no point of reference to draw upon when they are faced with a new environment or experience. It takes time for them to adjust to their routine, build relationships, and understand that their new preschool is a fun, safe, and happy place. Some children take to their new preschool environments with ease; whereas others may initially suffer from separation anxiety. This is completely normal and will pass in time. Either way, the tips below will make your child’s first day at preschool (and the days after) a more manageable experience for your little one, and for you.
Creating a Routine
Prepare your child for their first day of child care by talking to them about their teachers, the new friends they’ll make, and the exciting new toys they’ll get to play with. It is also a good idea to read to them about their favorite characters going to school. Popular titles include: ‘David Goes To School’ by David Shannon, ‘Llama Llama Misses Mama’ by Anna Dewdney, ‘Maisy Goes To preschool’ by Lucy Cousins, and ‘My First Day at Nursery School’ by Becky Edwards.
Double-check your child’s enrollment kit for their daily list of needs. Your child will need to bring: drink bottle, cot-sized sheets, school bag, two spare sets of clothes, sun hat, diapers/pull-ups (if required), wipes, and a comfort toy from home (if applicable). Remember to label everything clearly beforehand.
Establish a positive and happy morning routine for preschool days. For children over two, this may include encouraging your child to pack their own school bag, find their favorite comforter, or sing a happy ‘school day’ themed song. In addition, always give yourself plenty of time to get ready and arrive on time. Feeling late or rushed can cause children to feel extra anxiety.
To ensure that your child receives the greatest benefit from the program, it is important to try to arrive by 8:30 am. Once you have arrived you may store your child’s things in their labeled cubby. Coats and shoes are placed in the wardrobe located to the left of the front door. Strollers are folded and stored in the vestibule to guarantee a safe walkway.
Parents at 232 Playschool who establish a consistent goodbye routine typically have better luck with successful goodbyes. Take a special moment with your child to say goodbye. Some of our current parents go with a simple kiss and a cuddle. Whereas others have established a ‘secret’ handshake at drop off! A special goodbye is a great way for your child to start their day feeling happy and reassured. When it is time to leave, don’t linger in the classroom, or stay for “just one more minute.” The best thing you can do is give your child a hug and a kiss at the door, let them know you love them, and reassure them that you will be back!
It is important to be punctual when picking up your child. It easy to lose track of time, but no matter who is picking your child up, always be on time. If you are late, it can cause your child to feel more anxiety and makes drop off the next time much harder. On your child’s first day of child care, it is wise to pick them up a little earlier so that they ease into their new routine.
On the way home, establish a routine where you talk to your child about their preschool day. Focus on the positive aspects of their day, such as their favorite activity, or playing with friends. By consistently reinforcing the positive aspects of their school day, your child will learn that their new environment is a fun and happy place, and their feelings of anxiety will decrease over time.
Modeling positive behaviors and attitudes plays an important role in the success of the first day of school, and the weeks thereafter. Keep discussions about preschool positive, and focus on things that your child is likely to enjoy. Children pick up on parent’s feelings, behaviors, and emotions, and are likely to emulate them if you are feeling upset or uncertain.
Schedule an Orientation
As part of 232 Playschools introductory process, we invite all families to come in for a two-hour orientation before your child commences. Orientations usually run from 9 am – 11 am. It is important to remember that some children take longer than others to settle.