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Preparing a child for daycare

A child’s early years are some of the most important foundational years. Finding a quality daycare is essential for their growth and development. But, what do you need to ensure your child is prepared to get the most out of their daycare experience?


That’s what we are going to talk about in our blog article today!


We want to make sure that you as a parent have the resources to ensure your child has all they need to get the most out of their learning experience. These 9 tips will help make sure your child is prepared.



Prepare Yourself First

As a parent or caregiver, you will play an important role in shaping new experiences for your child. Young children look to their loved ones to determine how they should feel about new situations and experiences.


If you feel anxious and scared for your child they may also feel anxious and scared about the new experience.


Before you can prepare your child for daycare you must mentally prepare yourself. This can be hard for parents new to daycare. Take time to prepare yourself. One way of doing so is by speaking with a daycare provider and taking a tour. Another is by connecting with other parents who are going through the process or who have been through it.


Helping a child prepare for daycare with also help you prepare yourself. Following the additional tips will help you and your child prepare for daycare together.



Introduce them to new people and places


One way to begin preparing your child for daycare is by getting them out of the home and introducing them to new experiences and people. You can take them to the park, visit a museum, go to the library or take them grocery shopping. Playdates and local events for kids are other great ways to introduce them to activities in which they will be around other children in a fun and playful environment.


If a child is familiar with meeting new people and experiencing new things, then daycare will be less of a shock for them.



Encourage curiosity and independence

Independent and curious children tend to do a little better in the early days of their daycare experience. This helps them get more comfortable with a new setting and friends.


There are a few ways you can encourage curiosity and independence in young children:

  • Explore the world with them (nature, your neighborhood, new ideas through the internet, etc.)

  • Encourage solo play

  • Follow their lead when you play together

  • Ask them open-ended questions about life or things they experience

  • Let them be kids


There are many other ways you can feed a child’s natural curiosity and independence. It’s really all about creating a safe environment where they can uncover the world around them.


When a child develops their own curiosity and independence instead of depending on their loved ones, they will more comfortably take hold of their daycare experiences.



Create a routine and stick to it


Routines create confidence and can help children prepare for new experiences. This is especially important if a new daycare schedule means a change in their sleep/wake routine.


If you already know what your child’s daycare schedule will look like, then you can take them through that process to get them used to it.


Any routine, however, even if you aren’t sure what their actual daycare routine will look like, can still be beneficial. If you don’t know what their specific routine will look like you can still practice. Have them work on getting up early, and going to bed earlier. Let them pick out their clothes and prepare their own lunches (with help of course). Encourage them to gather and organize their bookbag and shoes before they go to sleep so they know exactly where to find them in the morning.


You may also want to help them get used to other experiences like eating at a table, washing their hands, cleaning up toys and other things they will do in daycare.



Play “school”

Playtime is a fun way to introduce your child to daycare and what they might experience. Playing “daycare” not only allows your child to familiarize themselves with the concept of school and routines but it also shows them that it’s not scary.


Act through some of the experiences they will encounter during daycare. You and your child can pretend drive to the daycare center, knock on the door, sing songs, read stories, eat lunch, and you can even make nap time part of the pretend play.


Your child might get a kick out of the fun but more importantly, it will prepare them for the routines and experience of daycare.



Talk about daycare


Even as adults, we can be uncomfortable visiting new places especially if we know nothing about it. Talking about daycare will help get them familiarized with the concept, create excitement, and allow them to discuss worries they have.


Be open about the experience. Tell them stories of your daycare days or the fun things they will get to do. Ask them about the things they are most excited about. You can also ask if they have any questions or things they want to talk about.



Practice saying goodbye

Probably one of the hardest parts of daycare for a child (and for some parents) is having to say goodbye. Separation anxiety is a real and normal part of a child’s development. Practicing won’t remove all anxiety completely but it can help.


You can start practicing in simple ways at first by saying bye and leaving the room but staying in the house. Depending on their level of anxiety and their comfort level you can begin increasing the distance and time apart. Soon you can practice dropping your child off with a close friend or relative for little while, while you run an errand or get yourself a coffee.


When dropping your child off for longer periods of time, it helps when they are dropped off to do something fun like having a play date.



Visit the daycare center


As a child gets closer to their time at daycare, make sure to schedule a visit to meet their teachers and experience the facility. This is essential to them getting familiar before the first day of the daycare experience.


Getting some exposure helps relieve some of the anxiety about it and can build excitement for their first day to start.



Prepare for the big day


Having a positive first day at daycare is important for any child. Take the time and effort to ensure their big day goes as smoothly as possible.


Prepare a checklist and organize everything they will need for their first day and have it ready to go the night before. Pick out outfits, plan meals, put all their school items together, etc. So that the morning of can be as smooth as possible.


The first day of daycare shouldn’t be a hectic one. Doing everything you can to prepare ahead of time will help your child get the most out of their first daycare experience.



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