The decision to put your toddlers in daycare is not one that parents make lightly. It’s a big transition for both children and parents. Daycare is one of the first formal routines outside of the home that your child may participate in.
While it can be challenging for parents to let go, keep in mind that enrolling and adjusting to daycare helps children improve their skills to prepare them for school. Check out some of the critical milestones for toddlers in daycare to achieve for their social and emotional growth.
New daycare? No problem. We’ve got you covered with tips to help your child in adjusting to daycare.
Daycare Teacher Meet and Greet
Our first tip to help your child adjust to daycare is to schedule a meet and greet with their new teacher or caregiver before their first day. Not only will children get a chance to become more familiar with their teacher, but they will also become familiar with the new classroom and overall environment.
You can prepare some questions to ask the teacher in front of your child to comfort them. Here are a few examples:
- What is a typical day like?
- Where is the bathroom?
- What should the child do if they need the teacher’s assistance?
Children will have the opportunity to get excited about the new daycare by seeing where their new desk will be, who their teacher will be, and what new toys they will have at their disposal. It will also be helpful for children to know where the bathroom is in advance to avoid any accidents for toddlers in daycare.
When the child is more familiar with the classroom, they will associate that environment as safe and positive and have an easier time adjusting to daycare.
Setting the right expectations for your children about their new daycare can go a long way towards helping them know what to expect beforehand. Parents can help set expectations by excitedly talking about daycare. Whether it’s how many new friends they will make, how friendly and helpful their teacher will be, how many new toys they will have at their new daycare center, any positive talk will help toddlers in daycare become excited.
Take every opportunity to speak positively of daycare and the new transition to help your child mimic these positive affirmations as well. Having some expectations of what to expect on the first day of adjusting to daycare will help make drop-off that much easier.
Adjusting to Daycare: At-Home Schedule
Before starting daycare or transitioning to a new daycare, begin to adjust your child’s schedule at home. If your child needs to be awake, have breakfast, be dressed with shoes on at a specific time, practice that routine the whole week before.
Practicing and getting ready for daycare at home first can help things go a little bit smoother when the first day of a new daycare rolls around. Children thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect provides a sense of comfort.
Bring Familiar Items from Home
It’s natural for children to miss their home and their parents while they are away. By bringing familiar items from home to daycare, children can feel a sense of safety by having some of their prized belongings from home. Here are a few examples of items that can be taken to help your child with adjusting to daycare:
- A favorite stuffed animal
- A cozy blanket
- Favorite book
If your toddler in daycare is ever feeling down, they will have the comfort of some of their favorite things to uplift them.
Make Daycare Drop-offs Quick and Easy
One of the most challenging parts about taking your child to a new daycare facility can be the drop-off. To avoid tears and tantrums, make your goodbyes quick. It helps if your children are distracted by toys, teachers, or other children. Once you say your goodbyes be sure not to linger – set the expectation that you won’t stick around, even if the child is crying.
As hard as it is to leave our kids, especially when they’re crying, remember all of the benefits for toddlers in daycare and how much fun they will have with kids their age. Keep in mind that the drop-off process will only get easier after the first day.
Before you do your first daycare drop-off, check out these ways to ease daycare separation anxiety.
Daycare Lunchtime Surprise
Giving your child something fun to look forward to every day can help them ease into adjusting to daycare and remind them that you’re thinking about them when they are away. One idea is to give kids something to look forward to every day at lunchtime to surprise them.
Whether it’s a silly sticky note drawing, their favorite treat, or a lunchtime activity, children will be incentivized to make it through to lunchtime to see what the excitement is all about. Once you make this an everyday tradition, toddlers in daycare will become excited, wanting to know their lunchtime surprise.
Starting at a new daycare can be a hard bump to get over. You can rely on the teacher to send check-ins to avoid any urges to visit your child for parents. With the uninterrupted time among peers, toddlers in daycare are undoubtedly honing their emotional development, social skills, and communication styles.
Ask the daycare teacher or staff if you can receive check-ins with pictures and updates on how the child is doing throughout their first few weeks at daycare. With these confirmations, you will have peace of mind that your toddlers in daycare enjoy their time.
Gradual Start to Daycare
When it comes to starting your toddlers in daycare, you don’t have to go all in. A gradual start can help children ease into adjusting to daycare with a new environment and a new schedule. You can opt for half days, full days, or either schedule with alternating days before working up to full-time daycare.
Finding a daycare service that can be flexible with your schedule and your child’s needs is essential. Talk to your daycare staff about how they can accommodate a gradual start for your toddlers in daycare who are still adjusting to daycare.