Children reach many milestones throughout their lives. While a child’s first step and first tooth may garner the bulk of the milestone glory, other moments are just as significant.
One milestone that parents may not look forward to is their kids’ first day away from mom and dad. For many children, that day is spent at daycare. Parents may get emotional when dropping their young children off at daycare for the first time, and those emotions might only grow stronger if children cry when mom and dad walk away. Fortunately, there are ways to help kids adjust to starting daycare.
• Drop by before the first drop-off day. Many daycare facilities encourage parents to visit the facility with their children before youngsters’ first official day at daycare. This allows kids to meet their teachers as well as other children who will be in their class. That familiarity can make first-day dropoff that much easier.
• Speak with kids about daycare in advance of their first day. As kids’ first day at daycare approaches, parents can speak with them about what to expect. Discuss changes in routine as well as more exciting things, like the chance to play with other kids. If you were able to visit before the first day, mentions teachers and other children your child met during the visit. That can help calm their nerves about leaving Mom and Dad.
• Practice leaving your child with someone else. Much of the fear kids have when being dropped off at daycare for the first time is seeing mom or dad leave the facility. Kids who have seen this before, whether they’re left with a babysitter or a relative for a couple of hours, are more likely to smoothly adjust to being left at daycare. Parents who haven’t yet enjoyed a date night or time away from their children can book some time away together so their children can get used to spending time with someone other than Mom and Dad.
• Invite other children from the daycare over for play dates. Another way to help kids embrace their first days at daycare is to invite some of their prospective classmates over for a play date. If parents who live nearby recommended the facility, invite their children over for a play date. Familiar, friendly faces can help the transition to daycare go smoothly.
• Let kids take a comfort item with them. A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can calm kids’ nerves as they transition to daycare. Before telling kids they can bring such an item along, confirm if it’s allowed with the program director.
The first day at daycare is a milestone for kids. Parents can take various steps to make that day go as smoothly as possible.