Community, Education, Useful tools
What to expect on your child’s first day at childcare
06 March, 2020
Embarking on early childhood education is a big step, for children and parents alike. It can be exciting, terrifying and overwhelming all at once. Thankfully, Edge Early Learning Milton centre director Carly Pickett is here to walk you through it.
Every child takes to childcare differently – some dive in headfirst, while others take a little longer to feel comfortable. The same can be said for parents.
“Starting early childhood education is an exciting time for children and families, but it is normal for families to feel nervous and anxious too,” says Edge Early Learning Milton’s centre director Carly Pickett.
It is for this very reason that Edge Early Learning encourages ‘stay and play’ transition visits, prior to your child’s first official day. These visits provide an opportunity to explore their new environment and build relationships with educators and other children, while still having the security of their families close by.
“Transition visits also help families gain a better understanding of the flow of the classrooms and build their own relationships with the team before leaving their child in our care,” she says.
Carly says the length and frequency of your transition visits will depend on your needs, and how quickly your child adjusts to centre life. You are more than welcome to spend time with your child in the Edge Early Learning environment or relax and observe your child from the comfort of the parent room if that feels more comfortable.
“We encourage families to come in for ‘stay and play’ visits wherever possible at different times of the day, to help children become familiar with meal and rest times,” says Carly. “Visits don’t have to be with mum or dad either – we often have visits with grandparents, aunties and uncles.”
At home, Carly encourages you to have plenty of conversations with your child about their first day of childcare.
“Children are competent and capable learners,” says Carly. “Communication with them about their expectations and feelings through the process will help them make sense of their emotions and set them up for a successful journey.”
When the official first day finally arrives, the educators at your child’s new centre will be there to help you every step of the way. From meeting families in reception to showing them around their child’s new classroom, Carly says having plenty of time for a child and parent to ask staff questions on the first day is invaluable. It is also beneficial for staff to ask the new family some important questions, too.
“We work with families to understand their individual needs, priorities and previous experiences to help them feel more at ease as they begin their journey with us,” says Carly. “Our educators will ask how your morning has been going and discuss any feelings or concerns. We will also talk through your child’s routine and explain how it will be supported through the rhythm of the centre.”
The team at Edge Early Learning understand that saying goodbye to your child for the first time can be an enormous challenge, and you are welcome to stay as long as you like at drop off.
“We want to ensure you leave the centre feeling assured that your child is safe and well-cared for, and our team makes courtesy calls to families during the first few days of enrolment to provide updates about how their child is settling in to the centre and their classrooms,” says Carly. “Families are also encouraged to check in via phone or in-person, too, and can expect communication from educators about their child’s day at pick-up.”
If both you and your centre educators feel that your child is not coping with the transition well, you can work together on strategies to support their emotional wellbeing. This might include additional ‘stay and play’ visits on the days your child doesn’t attend or working on a ‘key educator’ approach to support your child in forming a secure attachment with one educator to start with.
Edge Early Learning also offers a private online forum, Storypark, for easy communication with families.
“Educators communicate with families about how their child is settling in through a variety of channels,” says Carly. “We are committed to working with families and ongoing, open communication is vital in the process.”
Edge Early Learning provides each child with a starter pack for their first day – which includes a backpack, t-shirt, water bottle and hat – along with delicious and nutritious meals, nappies, wet-wipes and sunscreen.
All you need to bring along in your child’s bag is:
- Two changes of clothes
- A water bottle
- A hat
- Sheets for rest time (provided for children in the Nursery)
- Bottles and formula or breast milk if necessary. Note: Edge also provides space for breastfeeding mothers to come in and feed during the day.
- Any special comfort that your child may have that you feel will help them feel safe and secure, like a dummy, sleeping bag for bed, special blanket, etc