13 tips for the first day of daycare

Opening a daycare is a major transition in any child’s life. For some, it is the first time they have been away from their parents for a significant period of time and the first time they have interacted with such a large group of other children. For others, this may not be their first childcare experience, but they may be adjusting to a new teacher, center, or daycare in residence. When enrolling your children in a new daycare, one of the most important things you can do is prepare them for the big changes ahead.

We interviewed Katrina Macaset, child development expert and content specialist for Zero to Three; Traci Sanders, home child care provider and author of “Directly at home: Parents’ guide to choosing quality childcare» ; and Arika Molitor, a Texas educator with daycare experience, to share their best tips for a great first day at daycare.

1. Visit before your first day

The first drop-off will likely go more smoothly if your child already recognizes the space and its teachers.

“When you first meet teachers, they are strangers to you and they are strangers to your children. So you have to feel comfortable with them and the environment,” says Macasaet.

“When you first meet teachers, they are strangers to you and they are strangers to your children. So you need to feel comfortable with them and the environment. »


She recommends going to daycare with your child more than once before the big day, if possible.

“I think it’s also a good sign if the program is willing to have you come back multiple times to see different times of the day, different activities they do, and those changes,” she says.

2. Talk about the new routine

Although daycare will ultimately be a positive experience for your child, it is completely normal for them to be afraid. That’s why it’s so important to talk about the new routine before it starts.

“Change scares people of all ages,” Molitor says. “Explain to your child where they will go and why, and talk about it again and again in the days leading up to their first day. »

3. Make changes to their sleep schedule

If you know the daycare take a nap and you have plenty of time before your child starts, try gradually moving their nap schedule at home to one at daycare. If you can’t do it, it’s okay and the teachers will help them fall asleep. But if you can make even small changes, teachers will be forever grateful, Molitor says.

4. Practice independence

Since child care providers work with several children at a time, it can be an asset for your child to know how to do certain things independently.

“Any skill a child can master without help, the more it helps the provider focus on other skills,” Sanders says. “For example, if a child can put on their clothes or wash their hands, that helps them tremendously.”

“Any skill a child can master without help, the more it helps the provider focus on other skills.”


5. Have a romantic evening

Yes really! If your child isn’t used to spending a few hours without you, Sanders recommends spending time with a Baby sitter it will be good for both of you.

“Go out to the movies with your spouse for a few hours at a time to both acclimate your child to the process and to show your child that you always come back,” she says. “Separation anxiety can be a difficult challenge for parents and children.

6. Stimulate them

If your child is old enough to understand, read stories and watch videos or shows about positive daycare experiences, Sanders says.

“Build it to be a fun place to visit and talk about the provider by name,” she says. “’Do you remember Mrs Suzy we met the other day? She was nice, wasn’t she? She had great toys. What was your favorite?’

7. Pack like a pro

If you have a baby, Molitor recommends packing several changes of clothes (three to four should be enough) in case of burst diapers and spilled food. Bring it all bottle supplies and breast milk or formula that caregivers will need for the day. Also ask if your daycare provides diapers so you know whether or not you should bring them. For older kids, packing just one or two outfits with extra underwear should do the trick, in case they have bathroom accidents, spills, or get dirty from activities.

8. Label everything

Daycare teachers are responsible for managing dozens of items for the various children in their care. Labeling clothes, blankets, stuffed animals, diapers and feeding items will make their lives a lot easier and ensure you don’t lose anything.

9. Bring a comfort item

“Have older children — toddlers and up — bring something that reminds them of home and helps them fall asleep during naptime, like a blanket or stuffed animal,” Molitor recommends. Babies, of course, usually can’t have these comfort items in their crib until they are a year old. sleep safety the reasons.

“Ask older children – toddlers and up – to bring something that reminds them of home and helps them fall asleep during nap time, like a blanket or stuffed animal. »


Be prepared for the drop-off to take longer than usual on the first day of day care, and even throughout the first week, Molitor says. If it is possible to go to work a little later the first few days or give yourself a little more time in the morning, this can make the transition easier, because children will not feel the stress of being rushed.

11. Make a plan with your child

Tell your child exactly where you are going and when you will return, and be sure to follow through.

“Use consistent, proactive dialogue that lets them know what the routine is and that you will always come back for them,” says Macasaet. “Even if young children do not yet have a sense of time, they have a sense of routine. If you let them know, “I’ll be here when you wake up from your nap,” they associate that with a routine and then they know, “Oh, it’s not that bad. I eat my snack, I play with my friends, I go downstairs to take a nap, and then when I wake up, Mom and Dad are there to pick me up.

12. Resist the urge to linger

Once you say goodbye and leave the room at drop-off time, don’t return. It’s natural to want to comfort your child if they’re upset, but if you keep leaving and returning to the room, this might do it. take even more time to soothe them.

“A good provider will step in to help the child feel comfortable and find a way to involve them in what’s happening in the classroom.” It’s important that he learns to trust the provider in this scenario,” says Molitor.

13. Be patient

“There will be good days, and there will be more difficult days,” says Macasaet. “There will be days when your child just doesn’t want you to leave, and that’s okay. You are their primary caregiver. You are their person.

But, she adds, children are resilient and will adapt if given time and understanding from those around them.

“If they recognize that the environment is safe and that the people around that environment are there to support them and care for them, then it will become easier,” she says.


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