Daycare and Toddlers: How to Prepare Your Child for It

children playing together

Starting daycare is a big step in your child’s life. For most toddlers, childcare will be the first time they have ever been away from their parents. It could also be the first time they have to interact with a big group of children daily. With major changes ahead, your child is bound to have conflicting emotions about this transition. And that’s perfectly normal. 

Children are always hesitant to try something new. As a parent, it’s your duty to replace some of your child’s fear into excitement. Here are ways to help your child get ready for daycare. 

Visit the school before the first day

Visiting the campus before the big day can help your child be acquainted with their new environment. Some teachers invite families for a campus tour before the first day. If you don’t have that option, take a trip to the school and explore the building and the playground. The first drop-off will likely be more manageable if your kid knows what to expect ahead of time. 

Develop morning and bedtime routines

Children thrive on routine and repetition because they provide a sense of comfort and normalcy. Start by setting a wake-up time at least an hour before school. That will give your kids enough time to shower, get dressed, and have breakfast. 

After school, set a schedule for homework, playtime, dinner, and rest. Routines also help children practice time management, organization, and independence. Over time, they can do their day-to-day tasks, even without your guidance. 

little girl playing a musical instrument

Rehearse self-help skills

Self-help skills are basic everyday tasks that allow your kid to practice their motor skills. Some examples are feeding, dressing and grooming, zipping bags and coats, tying shoelaces, putting on backpacks, and hand-washing. Knowing these skills will help your kid be confident in their ability to try new things and encourage them to take responsibility for themselves when they’re in school. 

Shop for school supplies together

Get your kid excited for school by letting them pick their bag, pencil case, and other supplies. Doing this gives them a sense of control and independence. It’s also a great way to show your trust in their decision-making skills. Knowing that they can make choices on their own proves that they’re ready for other big things like daycare. 

Pay attention to your child’s worries

Remember that your child is about to undergo significant changes in their daily life. There’s bound to be so many things going on in their head before (and after) their first day. Will their teacher be friendly? Can they make friends? Pay attention to nonverbal messages, too. Your child may be extra clingy, withdrawn, or aggressive in the weeks leading up to their first day. 

Communication is the key to successful childcare. Encourage your child to open up. Let them know that’s it’s normal to feel scared or nervous and help them come up with ways to deal with their fears. Your child’s initial feelings about daycare can influence their experience for the rest of the year. It’s essential to address any issues early on, to ensure a happy and meaningful childcare experience.

No matter how much you prepare your kid for their first day, remember that adjustment and acceptance won’t happen overnight. But children are resilient. With the right guidance, understanding, and patience from you, they can make the transition in no time.