Three Steps To Prepare Toddlers For Daycare
Leaving the safety of mom and home and venturing off to daycare is a scary challenge for some toddlers. Truthfully, it is probably even more difficult for mom and dad. However, knowing your little one is prepared for their new adventure can make the process easier for everyone involved. Here are three simple steps that will help to prepare your toddler to take this exciting new step.
Step One: Meet Other Children
You have probably heard it dozens of times, but children really do need to learn social skills with other children outside of their family. They must learn how to play, share and even disagree correctly. Time spent with friends and their children, at the playground or in a local playgroup will help your child build these skills easily. Plus, this gives time for bad behaviors to surface and be handled prior to attending daycare. This can be done even while children are infants and just beginning to interact with others. However, as long as you start your play dates several months before they begin attending daycare, they will have the time to learn many of the skills they will need.
Step Two: Spend Time Apart
Separation anxiety can be devastating to children who have always been at home with a parent. To help prepare them work with the daycare you have chosen, begin bringing your child in prior to when their services are actually needed, at least three or four weeks before they are to begin full-time care. Start by leaving your child for an hour or two and increasing it a few minutes each day. This allows the child to become acclimated to the daycare center and the providers, making it easier when they eventually need to be there full time.
Step Three: Create a Routine
Once they are in daycare, establish a set routine. Little ones love predictability and generally feel more secure when they know what will happen next. This does not mean you need to always drop them off and pick them up at the same time, so begin your routines even while they are still on their part-time schedule. Most work schedules will not make it possible for your timing to always be exact anyways. Instead, establish routines that are performed when they are dropped off and picked up. At drop off time, bring in their bags, unpack their blanket or snack and always share a hug and kiss before leaving. Ask your daycare provider to begin preparing them prior to your pick up time. Have them straighten their toys or pack their bags and use the bathroom while they wait for your arrival.
Even the bravest and most well-adjusted children will have days where they break down as mom or dad walks out the door. It is natural and generally lasts for only a few minutes. Sometimes it is a result of them not feeling well, being over tired or just wanting to be home that day. Good daycare providers like those from Old Dominion Day School Inc are capable of handling these little crying spells, and parents should feel confident that by the end of the day the child will have forgotten it even happened. A security item like a blanket, stuffed toy or photo of them with mom and dad can make these days easier for many children.