Beginning Child Care
Welcome to our community here at A Tiny Lab! We are all looking forward to getting to know you and your child. Included below is information to help ease the transition for you and your child into group care. We value open communication and our relationships with our families here - so please, always be in touch with questions, concerns or clarifications. We are here to help your family with this transition!
For your child’s first day, please ensure that you have returned the Registration Package and your child’s Immunization Record. While here, your child will have their own personalised cubby and hooks. Your child will need the following:
2-4 changes of clothing, including socks & underwear (we get messy!)
Soft toy and blanket for rest time
Appropriate outdoor wear for the season
Diaper supplies (if still in diapers)
At the end of each week please take your child’s belongings home so that we can clean the cubbies. We can’t emphasise enough - PLEASE label all of your child’s belongings to avoid things going missing and being donated in our lost and found. We always have sharpies on hand! Just ask!
Below are some tips and suggestions to ease this transition for both you and your child. Beginning child care is one of the biggest transitions you will face as a family. For many, it is the first time separating from your child for extended periods of time. We understand how stressful this can be for everyone. For us, trust is a big part of this process and one that we don’t take lightly. Building trust and an attachment with both your child, and you, begins on the first day for us. You will receive open communication from us on your child’s first days with us, as well as updates throughout the day on how things are going. We use a digital parent communication app called, ‘Hi Mama’ which allows teachers the ability to quickly send you updates and images of your child so that you can get a sense of how they are doing.
Preparing for Child Care
Begin talking about the idea of child care with your child prior to them starting with us. Books and stories are a wonderful and developmentally appropriate resource to introduce new ideas and concepts to children. Prepare them for what their typical day will look like. Children do best when they know what to expect - mapping out the day for them will help them to understand what is happening. Before you begin with us we will go over with you what a typical day at A Tiny Lab looks like for your child.
Following a predictable routine each morning will help your child understand what days are ‘school’ days and what days are the weekend. With full-time children, typically after 2 weeks in child care they begin to understand the rhythm and flow of a week. 5 days at school, 2 days at home. Children thrive when their days follow a predictable routine and they know what to expect next. If possible, arriving for pick up at the end of the day around the same time is also helpful, especially in the first few weeks as children get used to their new routines.
For the first few days, give yourself an extra 20 to 30 minutes more than you think necessary. This buffer time can be helpful as you get used to this new schedule and morning routine. Allowing yourself extra time decreases the likelihood of forgetting something, feeling rushed or flustered and allows you the time to focus on your child before saying goodbye for the day. Allowing extra time is one small step to help ensure you start the day on the right foot. A strategy you may want to try is getting everything ready to go the night before. Clothes laid out, backpack at the door, whatever you need for work that day.
Arriving early (between 8-8.30am) allows your child more time to adjust into the classroom when things are typically quieter and teachers can give you and them the attention needed. These first days, and/or weeks may be difficult for both you and your child to separate in the transition process, until both of you get used to your new routine. The teachers are here to help you through this process. Letting the teachers know how long you intend to stay is helpful. Once it’s time to go, let your child know, ‘it’s time for me to say goodbye’. If your child needs help a teacher will be there to facilitate. Sometimes this means taking your child out of your arms. We will always ask first and let the child know ‘I’m going to hold you now while Mom/Dad leaves. Let’s say goodbye and we will see them this afternoon’ while working to soothe them. Once in motion, it’s necessary that you commit to the goodbye. Going back and forth is very confusing for the child and never results in a child calming down before you leave. It always makes them more upset because they don’t want to let you go. As hard as it is, smile, tell them you love them, you will be back and you will see them in the afternoon. Then walk out of the classroom. Trust that the teachers will comfort your child and that these steps are necessary in your child learning to trust and attach to their teachers. Know that you will receive an update from us and that it will be okay.
When your child sees you at the end of the day it’s an important time for them to reconnect with you. Sometimes they can experience big emotions at the end of the day as well - transitions in general can be a heightened time of stress for children. Crying at the end of the day or refusing to go when they see you can be a way for them to express their emotions and is a developmentally appropriate part of getting used to child care. Remind your child how happy you are to see them. Let them know it must have been hard to be separated for the whole day, that it was hard for you too and that you missed them. Having family rituals and routines at the end of the day can be a special time for you to reconnect as a family. For younger children, reading a favourite book when you get home. For older children, asking them what was their favourite part of their day? What was their least favourite part of their day? These questions can help them process the day, as well as give you insight into thow heir day was.
Be Kind. Be Patient
Finally, be kind to yourself. Transitions can be difficult and separating from your child is not easy. Be patient with yourself, with your child, and with this process. Take comfort in knowing that your child is being cared for in a supportive, attentive and loving environment while they are away from you. Make a plan for yourself for the first few mornings or days away from your child. Take time for yourself. Take a walk. Go out for coffee or tea. If you are going straight back to work, take yourself out to lunch.
‘5 Steps to a Peaceful Day Care Drop-Off’
‘The Kissing Hand’ Audrey Penn
‘Llama Llama Misses Mama’ Anna Dewdney
‘I love you all day long’ Francesca Rusackas