Whether it is your child’s very first day at Oac, or they are returning from the holiday season, having a plan and routine ahead of their first day is important to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your child. Anna McCauley is our Head of Health at Oac and she shares her advice on how to effectively prepare for that first day!
How are you feeling?
It is common for parents to feel a mix of emotions ahead of their child’s first day at childcare. We encourage parents to check in with how they are feeling ahead of this milestone and speak with other parents. Be mindful of how you talk about your feelings when your child is nearby. Your child will observe your own feelings and emotions. It is helpful for your child to hear you speaking confidently and being calm.
Learn through reading
Books and illustrations are a wonderful way for children to learn about and understand new experiences, especially those that may feel overwhelming. We recommend ‘The Invisible String’ which teaches children how we can be connected with loved ones even when we are apart and ‘Llama Llama Misses Mama’ about a llama’s experience starting preschool.
Children feel in control when they are involved in a situation. Take your child to buy their backpack, hat and water bottle. Let them pack their backpack the night before and choose what spare pair of clothes they would like to take on their first day.
Know your campus
Spend time visiting your child’s campus. This will give you and your child time to build familiarity and a relationship with our Educators and adjust to the physical environment.
Talk with your child’s Educator and Campus Director about your child’s home routine across a typical day. Include their preferences and favourite activities, sleep schedule and any specific needs that they might have.
If your child has a developmental condition or delay, you are welcome to bring a “one-page profile” of their interests and any tips on how our team are best to interact with your child to ensure they feel happy and safe.
Repetition and predictability are key
In times of change, most children need a predictable routine to feel safe and at ease. It is important that you think through how you are going to drop off and pick up your child with as much consistency as your schedule allows. If your schedule varies a lot over the week, and other family members or friends are helping with drop offs and pickups, a schedule on the fridge may help children to feel reassured. Adding a photo, of who will be responsible for your child during these times, can help.
Quick goodbyes are best
It is natural for a child to feel upset when they are separated from you, but a drawn-out goodbye will only prolong their distress. We recommend a brief goodbye to allow our Educators to quickly engage with your child in an activity to calm them – you can always call the campus later to understand how your child settled after you left.
If you have any questions or want more information on how to best establish a routine for your child during their transition to Oac, please call your campus. Our dedicated team have abundant resources and information to support you and your child!