Whether you’re returning to work or just wanting to find a few hours for yourself each week, starting your little one at childcare marks the beginning of a new and exciting stage for both of you.
Like any transition is will come with its challenges, so here are three things you can do to help make the process a little easier.
3 ways to help your kids transition to childcare
1. Plan ahead
To ensure the smoothest transition possible, it’s important to start the process well in advance. It can take kids weeks, or even months, to get used to big changes so the earlier you start, the better.
Begin by thinking about the type of childcare that best suits your family’s needs. Family day care may be good if you want a more intimate setting for your child, whereas centre-based care will generally offer a more structured program and staff who have undergone industry training (like this provider of childcare courses in Melbourne). Alternatively, home-based care such as a nanny or au pair is great for flexibility, but can be expensive. Start talking to your child about childcare well before you are due to return to work or commence care arrangements.
2. Prepare your child
Once you have decided on the type of care that will work best for you, help your child get to know their new carer and/or facility. The more familiar they are with the new people in their life, the happier they will feel about being left with them.
Arrange some visits to give your child a chance to get to know their new carer. Give them a chance to explore their new environment in a relaxed and enjoyable way with you there for support. Make the effort to show that you trust and get along with their carer and talk about them when you’re at home using their name.
It may be a good idea to have a relative or close friend look after your little one a few times before starting care. This will not only give them a chance to spend some time away from you, but they will also learn that you always come back. Once they are comfortable being looked after at home, try at a grandparent’s home or a short outing. This will allow them to get used to being new places without you.
You can also help to prepare your little one for the transition by reading books about child care together, play ‘school’ or talk about the fun activities they can do there. Talk positively but be sure to explore all the feelings and experiences that they may go through; while there will be times of happiness, fun and friendship, there are also likely to be times of anxiety, apprehension and tiredness.
3. Take time to settle in
It may take some time for your child to get used to the new arrangements and spending time away from you. Remember to be patient and try not to rush them.
If possible, arrange for your child to start attending a week or two before you start work or other commitments. You may choose to stay for the first couple of sessions, depending on how anxious your child is.
On your first day back to work, organise to go in a little later so that you can stay with your child for a few minutes while they settle in before you leave. Read a book or do an activity together. When it comes time to leave, make your goodbye quick and cheerful; don’t linger, even if they start to cry. Hanging around or getting upset yourself will only make it harder for your child to settle.
It is perfectly normal for children (and parents) to feel a little anxious when making the transition to childcare, but a little planning and preparation can go a long way towards ensuring the settling process runs smoothly so you and your little one can get busy enjoying your newfound independence!
This blog post is sponsored by VFA Learning
VFA Learning is a leading provider in Childcare Courses, Fitness & Massage Courses. We provide courses in 3 locations in Melbourne & Geelong. With combined 40 years’ experience in the industry.
Find out more at vfalearning.vic.edu.au