A child having a great first day in daycare is not automatic and calls for pre-planning on your part. Here’s some helpful tips to make a new child’s day go more smoothly.
You know the feeling. You're starting a new job, or have joined a new group, and you know absolutely no-one. You feel out of place for a while until you get used to the routine of the place and have chatted with a few of the people there.
Now, picture a child who feels the same way, except they don't understand anything about why mom or dad has to go to work. Or why they are suddenly going to this strange new place.
A little extra effort for the first few days will go a long way towards creating a secure feeling for a new child.
There are many ways you can make the first day in daycare for a new child successful. By rights, the child (or children) should have been present at the initial interview. Therefore they have already seen your daycare and will be somewhat familiar with the layout. If they were not present, try and choose an evening for a visit prior to the start date.
Make sure that any and all paperwork has been completed and turned in prior to the first day. This includes any fees payable. You don't want to be finishing up paperwork and trying to settle in a new child at the same time.
Make a few suggestions to parents. Prior to the first day in daycare, they should be speaking positively about the child's new daycare. Helping a child pack their own bag with items needed is another way to get them involved in the process.
Encourage a new child to bring a stuffed animal or another item from home. Sometimes simply being able to hold something from home makes a child feel more secure.
Try to schedule the first arrival time for a time of day when the other children will not need your undivided attention. If you are in the middle of making breakfast, or have 10 minutes to get the bigger kids on the bus, you won't have as much time to devote to one child.
Remember that the child may be unsure and cautious about the new environment. Mention to parents in advance that staying only a short time, and then making certain to tell their child good bye is the best way to go. Some children may cry at first, but in almost every case, the crying doesn't last long.
Show some sympathy for the parents too. Remember that they are leaving the person most precious to them. Reassure the parents that everything will be fine, and remind them they have to right to call or pop in any time.
Show the child where they are to hang their coat and where to place their bag. If your daycare children have their names on their cubbies or anywhere else, make sure that the new child's name is placed in the proper area prior to their arrival. It's a small act that will make them feel like they belong. Show them again (if they are at an age to use it on their own) where the bathroom is. Remind them where they will be sleeping at quiet time.
For a child’s first day in daycare, have a few toys or activities prepared in advance to share with the child. These should be something the child can do unassisted. Some children are not big on the idea of suddenly being expected to make friends and play with children they have never seen before. Normally new children watch the others from a distance and join in gradually.
Talk to the children in your daycare, and let them know that a new child is coming. Talk about ways they can help the new child to feel comfortable.
During the first few days, at circle time or during a craft activity, encourage the other children to talk to and share with the new child.
Should crying occur (in younger children this is quite common) keep everything very low key. Offer support (a hand on the shoulder, a lap to sit on) and help the child to adapt with a toy or activity.
At the end of the day offer a Great First Day Award to the child.
Most children adapt to new daycare surroundings quite well over the course of a few days. A few children take a little longer. The above steps will help make a child’s first day in daycare flow more smoothly.