Your child’s first day of childcare is almost here! This momentous day will stir up a mix of emotions, from pride and excitement through to worry and nerves (both for you and your child!). Here are a few key things you’ll want to prepare for the big day. With some knowledge of what to expect on that first day and a little groundwork, rest assured that your child’s first day will run as smoothly as possible.
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Leading up to the big day
For young babies with fluctuating routines, it’s highly recommended to try wherever possible to get your child into a consistent routine that can easily be followed in childcare. Make sure you communicate to the educators what your child’s daily routine is, in as much detail as possible--this will make all the difference to your child’s settling process. If your child is a bit older, start having conversations about childcare a couple of weeks before. Explain about who they’ll meet, what activities they’ll be doing, and how much fun they’ll be having. Don’t forget to make it sound super exciting!
Preparation is key!
The morning of your child’s first day might be hectic, so prepare everything the night before. Pack what you need to bring in a bag. The basic things you’ll need are:
- Spare clothes
- A hat
- A water bottle.
Other things that might be necessary include:
- A comforter
- Sleeping bag
- Formula or breast milk,
- A milk bottle.
These other necessities differ slightly from centre to centre. Your childcare centre will often have a parent handbook that tells you what is and isn’t provided at the centre. Some centres provide nappies, nappy cream, or sunscreen, whereas others don’t. If your centre does provide these things, you may still prefer to use a specific brand due to your child’s sensitive skin. So make sure you consider all of this when you do your packing!
With so many children in one place, things understandably get mixed up frequently in childcare centres. Here’s a great tip: if you don’t want to lose anything, we recommend labelling absolutely everything with your child’s name, from your child’s bag, clothes, hat, bottle, and even comforters. Also remember that your child will be doing a lot of arts and crafts, messy play, and outdoor play. Dress your child in simple, comfortable clothes that you won’t mind getting stained.
Drop-off is probably the hardest part of the day. There’s a chance that your child may get upset during drop-off. This is known as separation anxiety, which is very common among young children. Separation anxiety can be eased by ensuring a smooth transition for your child. The best way to do this is to remain calm, pass your child to a staff member, get them distracted by an activity, and then say your goodbyes quickly. Don’t linger for too long--make sure your goodbye is short and sweet.
It’s 100% normal for you to be anxious. After all, you’re leaving your precious little one with someone else. Most of the time, a child’s first day in childcare is harder for the parent than the child. So it’s important for you to prepare yourself mentally by knowing what to expect on the first day. Your child is still adjusting to a new environment, and things will get better in time. Remind yourself that your child is in a stimulating environment, surrounded by professional educators who will help them develop and thrive. Also remember that you're not alone in this journey. If you feel like you’re struggling with the transition, you can always speak to the Centre Manager or to friends in similar positions.