Preparing your child for daycare can be a daunting task. Here are 5 key ideas to ease the transition.

Preparation. In the days or weeks leading up to the first day, talk positively about the upcoming change and things that your child will enjoy at preschool/daycare (ie RugbyTots, Dancing, riding bikes, meeting friends)

Meeting and forming relationships with educators before the big day is vital to a good start. At Columba Cottage we encourage free Stay and Plays so that you and your child can feel comfortable with our surroundings and staff. We encourage you and your child to visit a few times before your actual start date, so that your child can get used to our educators and our educators can learn about your child.

Develop a routine. When you commence, having a regular drop off routine will make this easier. Perhaps it can be your child’s job to put their bag on the shelf, lunchbox in fridge, hat/sunscreen on, drink in drinks container – in this way the child is busy and not focussing on mum/dad/caregiver’s imminent departure. Distraction is a great strategy!

The drop off. Don’t drop and run. Let the educator calm/cuddle and reassure your child instead of mum/dad/caregiver. We often stand and look for the parents car to leave so the child can wave goodbye. You could also leave a comfort item with your child – for the older ones this could simply be a photo of them with their favoured puppy. Don’t say you will miss your child as they might feel bad that you are missing them. Just show your child that you are happy for them and confident in their new surroundings.  

What to pack. Talk to your centre about what to pack for your child’s day. All children will need a bag of some sort; backpacks are great but make sure they are labelled with your child’s name. In fact, everything you bring should be labelled with your child’s name. Make sure to pack at least one set of spare clothes as children  will likely be playing in sand, water or with paint, foam, playdough etc. And don’t forget a hat so your child can play safely outside.  

What to wear in child care depends upon the season. During summer, children are requested to wear sun-smart clothing which means short sleeves rather than narrow straps. Shorts are appropriate for girls and boys as there’s always lots of exploring to do. Even though our rooms at Columba Cottage are air-conditioned, we play outside for several hours per day so in winter, children will need a jumper or jacket. That all important hat is required no matter which season it is. Some companies have preschool sticker and iron-on label packs tailored for preschool/daycare which can be a great help as everything should be labelled. If your child has a toileting accident at Day Care, we will double bag their clothes for the return home.

Communication: Finally, make sure those lines of communication are open. If your child cries at drop off time, ask the educators how long the child cries for – usually it’s just for a minute or two until they are distracted by their friends or the surroundings. If a child has difficulty settling, at Columba Cottage we phone parents/caregivers. We also encourage parents to phone the centre and talk to the educators as often as they wish.

About the author: All round go-getter, Susanna Christie, is the Executive Director of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, where she leads a passionate team of 50 staff who love what they do, caring for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years. With a background in teaching from pre-school through to university, Susanna is passionate about all aspects of child development and wellbeing. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies. Susanna’s aim is to ensure that Columba Cottage remains the best Early Learning Centre on the Mid North Coast.