Enrolling a child in childcare is a big transition for both parents and child. This is not something that can be prepared for a day before the child comes in for their first day in childcare. Preparation should take place ideally a few weeks or a month before to ensure that everyone in the family is aware of what is to come. Parents, there is no need for hair-pulling when it comes to this task as this article will help you figure out the nitty-gritty of setting up both you and your child for success in shifting your daily routines with childcare schedules included.
Choosing a childcare centre
The first step to preparing for childcare transition is to find a childcare centre that is able to provide the services that are fit for your family’s needs. Childcare centres abound all around Singapore. Each has different kinds of services offered and the fee for these services also varies.
There is premium privately owned childcare centres, which can be expensive. There are also childcare centres that partner with the government and offer their services alongside the given government subsidies, which enables more residents to afford childcare services without straining their finances fully. Aside from these, the programme or curriculum implemented by childcare centres is not identical.
This means that the values, belief systems, and way of caring for a child can be different from the methods that other centres are using, as well as in the child’s home. As parents, it is crucial that the childcare centre that you choose to share the same values and principles that you have. According to ourfirststeps.com.sg, being able to choose the right childcare centre for your child will put your mind at ease that your child will receive the kind of care and nurturing that is best for them.
Preparing for change
Once you have chosen a childcare centre for your child, it is time to set preparations not only for yourself and your child but also for those who will be in charge of taking care of them once they their first day comes. While the educators and teachers in a childcare centre are highly skilled in working with children, expect that they will need your partnership in providing them with specific information about your child. These include:
- Additional needs that caring for your child requires
- Development, interests, and routines that your child is accustomed to
- Medical conditions, food allergies or intolerances
- Specific circumstances that can affect their wellbeing, including those concerning family relations (e.g. custody arrangements)
- Whether your child needs help when using the toilet or not
A few weeks before beginning childcare, prepare your child emotionally and practically. Infants may not need major preparations for this, but older children do.
Your child will be exposed to a whole new environment as soon as he or she walks into the childcare centre, so it is best to get them acquainted and be familiar with the surroundings and the new people that they will meet through short visits to the centre. Schedule a trip with the centre’s administrator and ask to stay for at least an hour. It is also best to stopover at different times of the day in order for your child to observe the different activities done in the centre. If you already know the educator or teacher assigned to your child, it may be helpful for your child to be introduced to them during one of your visits, so they will know a familiar face.
If you have a toddler, a great way to help him or her prepare and settle in is to mimic the childcare centre’s daily schedule in your home. Playtime, lunch, and nap time following the childcare centre’s programme can be introduced into your child’s routine at home some weeks or days before you drop them off on their first day.
Explain to your child that this transition may be challenging at first. Tell them that they may feel all sorts of emotions as they adjust to their new routines. Give them the assurance that this new environment will help them grow and develop in a positive manner. If it helps, you can tell them that they can bring something with them that would remind them of family, their favourite toy or a family picture would do, whenever they are in childcare. You can read them stories about childcare or books that tell about circumstances that they may encounter while in childcare. You can also do role plays, like saying goodbye whenever you drop them off or greeting them when you pick them up from childcare.
Truth be told, it is not only the children who may feel the pressure as they prepare for a change in their usual routines. Sometimes children fare better in being able to adapt to change as compared to parents. As a parent, do not neglect your own personal preparation as well. Being separated from your child and not being able to supervise them for a day or half a day can induce stress. If you feel anxious, acknowledge that this is a normal emotion to feel, especially when it comes to changes. However, remember not to show these moments of unease in front of your child so as not to throw off their confidence in starting their first day in childcare with positivity.
Plan your schedule ahead of time, especially during the initial weeks of your child in childcare. There may be days during the first week when your child will want you to stay with them for a bit longer. Also, organise your family’s schedule when the time comes that you need to drop your child off at the childcare centre. Set-up a morning routine to avoid rushing things in the house as you begin the day. Be sure to remember to include the time when you need to leave your child or pick them up from childcare in your schedule.
If you have family or friends that have sent their children to childcare, do not be shy to ask for tips on how to navigate this stage in both you and your child’s life. Ask about