You know your child best. Consider your child’s temperament, age, and prior child care experience when looking at ways to prepare her for child care. Some ideas to help prepare your child include:
- Visiting the program with your child before care begins to meet the teachers, see the rooms and playground, and play with the toys and other children
- Finding out as much information as you can about the program beforehand, so that you can answer your child’s questions about what to expect
- Talking to the provider/teachers about how they transition children into the program, and telling your child exactly what will happen during the transitional days
- Reading books with your child about starting child care, or about new experiences in general
- Making a family photo book with your child that she can take with her to child care for comfort and reassurance
- Talking to other parents who have recently transitioned their children into care for ideas on how to make it as smooth as possible
- Try to drive the route you will be taking before care begins to get a sense of the commute time from home to child care to work.
- Your child will probably pick up on any feelings of stress or tension you may have about this change, and may react to them. Try to remain calm and reassuring.
If you are leaving one program to begin care at another, make sure your child has the opportunity to say goodbye to the provider and the other children. Decide how you’ll stay in touch with them, through photos, letters, etc.
If you are expecting a baby, try to start your child's care well before the baby is due so your older child does not feel she was "pushed out" by the new baby. Some simultaneous changes are unavoidable, of course, such as when you move to a new city and a new home, and your child must start a new child care program all at the same time. So many changes can be overwhelming to a young child; try to be extra patient with her fears or anxieties. Things will return to normal eventually, and your reassuring tone will help your child to feel safe and secure in her new environment more quickly