Making the most of childcare – the home/childcare transition

Helping your child settle into child care

Many families start new childcare arrangements in the fall. It’s a hectic time for the family and for the childcare centre/provider.

One of the best ways to help everything go more smoothly is to slow down. I know this sounds ridiculous, I just said how hectic it is, but it’s sort of like the stop and smell the roses idea. Taking a few extra minutes at the beginning and end of your day will help your child settle in or make the transition back to home. The best thing to do during this time is to get to know your childcare provider and the program.

It’s amazing what building a relationship, parent to caregiver, can do for your child’s experience in care. Not only does it make it easier for parents and childcare providers when everyone is on the same page – having taken the time to debrief between transitions to/from childcare, but there is something really consequential about your child seeing parent and provider as partners in caring.

In a quality childcare environment you’ll find the providers strategically placed in the room, if there are more than one, one may be near the door and the other engrossed in the busy-ness of starting the day with the children. When there is only one provider, a quality caregiver often places themselves in a manner that is accessible to all, while giving optimum supervision of the room (and thus the children). She may have her back to the door (facing all of the children who have already started their day), but be placed very near the door, looking over and greeting families upon arrival. Take a few minutes to walk a few steps into the classroom, allow your child an opportunity to share something special that they look forward to doing that day, spend a few minutes sharing information with the childcare provider(s), and stop long enough to make just a little small talk. Ask about your providers’ evening/family, etc. Give them an opportunity to share bits of themselves that will help your child know that there is life outside of daycare, and that it’s important too!

When I notice things are especially tumultuous at the beginning of the year (more new starts than usual, an especially needy child/family, etc.) I like to offer a small token of appreciation to the providers. It might be delivering coffee on my way through to a meeting. It might be baking cookies at home for staff to share. It might be dropping off a package of reward stickers to add to the educator’s collection used for transition times. It’s sometimes sharing a story of something my child told me they loved doing at childcare the day/week prior.

By making the time to put the provider at ease by taking a personal interest in my child’s caregiver(s) I find information flows much more readily between childcare and home. Some providers are fantastic about sharing little details about the day, both the good and the bad, regardless of the parents’ approach to care. Others are afraid to bother busy parents with anything that seems insignificant or unimportant. It’s up to us, the parents and consumers of care to initiate the casual debriefing at the beginning and end of the day. And when we’ve done so effectively and consistently, then on the odd day when we are strapped for time, we can simply let child and provider know as we arrive that today time is limited and we’ll have to keep it short.

When I ask around, I find that the parents who know their childcare provider’s children’s names, or the hobby they spend their after hours engrossed in, etc. are the parents who also feel the greatest connection to the childcare program and are most satisfied with the care that they receive.

About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two