The transition from staying home to entering a full time day care can be a difficult one for many children. There are many things parents can do to make this easier, and to ensure a good day care experience.
The most important factor for any child is to choose the right daycare provider. If at all possible, it may be easiest to place the child with someone they are already familiar with, either a family member or friend. As this is not always an option, many resources are available for selecting a caregiver. Word of mouth from any friends with children will go a long way towards steering you to a good day care. This way experiences can be relayed, either good or bad, and eccentricities discussed. Bear in mind that a provider who is wonderful for one child may not be for another because of differing personalities; however, if several parents have criticized a source, a genuine problem may be present and that person might be one to steer clear of.
If word of mouth does not direct you to a good caregiver, the Department of Social Services can provide you with a list of licensed day care providers in your area. Your pediatrician may also be able to give you a recommendation; many doctors get to know their patients fairly well, particularly with children. If all else fails, a phone book or newspaper classifieds can provide listings for child care professionals.
Once you have chosen a provider, take your child to meet them. Most providers will wish to meet with you prior to the child being enrolled. Take your child with you to this meeting if possible. This will give them a chance to look around their new environment and meet the person or people who will be caring for them.
If your child has a comfort object and it is permitted, allow them to take that object to daycare. Most children become homesick for the first couple of weeks, and this will give them a piece of home to hold on to. Giving them a picture of you and other immediate family members to look at when they become lonely may help as well, but make that decision based on your child; it may make the situation worse. If at all possible, try to stay for a little while in the mornings to help them settle into an activity. This will make the transition easier. If you can, tell your child exactly what time you will pick them up-and make sure you are there. Like knowing what time your workday will end, daycare will be easier if your child knows exactly what time they will see you again. This gives them a sense of security.
The most important thing you can do for your child is to send them off in a positive manner. If you are upset over your separation, they will be to, whereas if you seem confident that all will be well and you will see them at the end of the day they will pick up on that attitude. Remember, it is not uncommon for your child to cry when you leave them. Most children settle in within fifteen minutes of seeing their parents leave. Simply say good-bye and walk out the door-you’ll be able to give them hugs and kisses for being so brave when you come back.