Let’s be honest, starting anything new can be provoke anxiety regardless of how old you are.

The first day at a child care centre can be exciting and anxiety-inducing all at the same time. While it can be an exciting time for your child as they get to go off and make new friends and experience life outside of the home, it can be quite a transition.

The transition can be overwhelming for some children who are not quite prepared to leave the home for a new environment, but there are ways to help them get ready for this next chapter in life.

If your child has been babysat by a relative or family friend, attending day care for the first time may not be difficult for them. However, if they are not used to being looked after by someone other than a parent, the transition may be a bit more challenging and take some additional effort on your part. The transition can evoke feelings and emotions that your child may have never experienced before.

That’s why it’s important to get your child ready for what to expect on their first day of child care. This article will provide some tips and thoughts on how you can prepare your child.

1. Start talking about child care way before they are set to begin

Before child care is set to begin, start talking to your child about going to child care and how they are going to learn so much. Try to avoid sharing with your child that the idea of them going to child care makes you very sad.

While it’s quite normal to have emotions about your child growing up and going to child care, your behaviour can greatly impact how your child feels about the idea. It’s best to be upbeat and positive about your child going off to child care and act like it’s quite an exciting and rewarding time in one’s life. Make going to child care a special event and your child will begin to look forward to it. Here are some ideas on how you can help make going to child care fun.

  • Take your child shopping. Explain to your child that when they go to child care, they will need to wear respectable clothing and look smart in their clothing. Offer your child the ability to help pick out their clothes and if you have it in the budget, pick out a special outfit just for the first day. When your child sees the outfit hanging in their closet, they can get excited about what they will wear on their first day of child care.
  • Start reading books to your child about the first day of child care. There are many great books available at your local library or bookshop that share the idea of going to child care for the first time. Reading to your child will allow them to begin to develop an understanding of what they can expect. If your child is feeling nervous or shy, there are books that will share these same sentiments which will help your child see that what they are feeling is normal.

2. Ask your child what they think about the idea of going to child care

Talk with your child about how they are feeling about the idea of going to child care. Whatever the circumstances, it’s likely that your child will have some feelings about going to child care.

Be gentle and patient when speaking with your child as they may not know how to express their feelings on the topic. If your child gets shy or quiet when you mention going to child care, you will know that you will need to begin to talk up the idea of going to child care.

3. Visit the child care centre with your child and see the set up

One of the ways you can help your child get used to the idea of transitioning to child care, is to take them there. Visit the child care centre with your child, meet the educators, check out the classroom and playground area, and talk with your child about all of the great things that they will learn.

By visiting the child care centre before the first day, you can help your child feel more comfortable when the first day arrives as they will already be familiar with the classroom and they will have already met their teacher. If the child care centre offers an orientation, it’s a good idea to attend so that you understand what to expect from the educators and administrators on the first day as well.

Early learning centres such as Harmony Early Learning Centre make it a priority to help toddlers and pre-kindy children seamlessly transition into school. The educators are caring, loving, and will nurture your child through lessons and social interactions with peers. A structured daily schedule is provided and will help your child get used to a routine.

4. Encourage your child to interact with other children when visiting the child care centre

When visiting the child care centre with your child, encourage your child to play with other children that are also on the property. Helping your child begin to socialise with others will help them be less shy on their first day. You can also speak with your child about the fun that they had with the new kids while visiting the centre and share that part of the fun in going to child care is the opportunity to make new friends and play together.

5. Validate your child’s feelings

Going to child care is sure to bring up feelings. Whether they are feelings of excitement or concerns, talking with your child about their thoughts on going to child care will help them in their transition. Be sure to let your child know that being nervous on the first day is normal. Let them know that most kids are going to be nervous on the first day, even if they don’t act like they are.

Helping your child feel validated in what they are thinking and feeling about going to child care can positively impact them on the first day. Instead of feeling shy and clinging to you when you drop them off on their first day when you have prepared them for what to expect, they can start a new chapter in their life with less worry and concern and more excitement.