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New to childcare? The crucial 6 weeks settling-in period

Kids Club OrientationFor most children, starting in daycare centres will be their first experience of being apart from their parents. Often, it is also the first time for Mum and Dad! 

Most children will experience anxiety, and parents and educators must work together to build the special relationship needed for everyone to make a smooth transition and get used to the new situation.

Our educators are attentive to children’s anxieties and fears before starting and settling in child care. We understand how difficult it can be to leave your child, especially if they are distressed. Be assured that if the educators cannot settle your child, we will notify you.

Even if a child has been in care before, it will take time for them to get used to their new caretakers and the new environment. But it works every time. This is a stage that most of our babies go through. And it takes six weeks on average!

This is our experienced professional, Miss Shelli’s belief. She is the Centre Director at Kids Club Clarence Street, and she explains the various procedures for effective early childhood care as follows:

First Step: The Orientation Process

It is recommended that parents assist their children with the transition by bringing them to the centre for a few visits before they are required to leave them in our care. During the orientation procedure, there will be an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship between the family and the crew from Kids Club.

According to Miss Shelli, “effective orientation processes are fundamental because this time is used for families and childcare professionals to ask questions and share important information about the child, family, and child care service.” 

We recommend attending two to three orientations a week before starting at the child care centre to help ease the transition into care. Orientations are provided free of charge. The duration of each orientation is usually around one hour.

Daycare Orientation

First and Second Week: Building Trust

There may be some crying in the beginning because our little ones are still getting to know the staff, the room, and the other children during the first two weeks of the program. 

They are still in the process of developing trusting and safe relationships with one another, which is something the team works on over the first two weeks. 

Their sleeping and eating patterns will also be erratic because of this. 

It’s all new and scary for them and their parents.

When a child goes to a new centre for the first time, their behaviour may change. Don’t worry; this is a normal part of a child’s growth. Changes that could happen include regression with toilet training, becoming more dependent, or having different eating habits.

These are just a few examples. If your child’s behaviour changes and you are worried, please talk to a team member about it.

Child Care Canberra

Third and Fourth Week: Familiarity

The kids are getting used to the same routine and care from the same team members. By now, they have formed bonds with at least one or two teachers. There aren’t as many tears, and it’s much easier to change the subject or distract the child.

Team Work

Fifth and Sixth Week: Feeling Safe 

At this point of early childhood care, They are getting used to the smells and sounds and having lots of little friends running around. They have begun to realise that it is a pleasant environment to be in. They know that their parents will return at a certain time and that they’re not forgotten. They are beginning to experience a sense of safety and security in their environment, and it is starting to feel more and more like a second home to them.

“My theory is that it takes six times to form a habit, six times consistently. If a child is coming five days a week, they will settle much quicker than a child coming two days. Again, it depends on the child and how quickly we can form that relationship with them.” Says Miss Shelli. “I have been using this theory for over 20 years, and it always works.”

Nursery Room

How does it Work?

Building a relationship with a child and their parents takes time and effort, but it also requires a strong group of people to see it through. Here are some of the things we do to help your child settle in:

  • redirecting their attention
  • taking them out for a walk
  • acknowledging that they are crying
  • and assuring them their parents will return to pick them up at lunch, afternoon tea, or a late snack.

“This is just one of the ways that I help parents feel better about the tears at the start. If I give them a goal, they hang on to that, and it relieves the parent’s guilt of leaving their little one. I have had many parents come to me and say I didn’t believe you, but here we are in week 5, and they are doing amazing. I smile and agree and am secretly pleased that it has worked. Sometimes, it takes just a little bit longer…” Miss Shelli added.

How to settle a distressed child in childcare

Getting your children familiar with a new environment can be challenging. 

Here are seven tips to assist you in helping them get settled:

  1. Have a conversation with your kid about the places where adults and kids travel during the day, a place where kids go while their parents are at work.
  2. Enjoy some heartwarming tales about starting kindergarten or early learning centre for the first time. Books are excellent resources for parents to have.
  3. When you visit the centre well before your child begins classes there, bring your youngster along with you, and don’t miss the orientation procedure.
  4. Bringing an item from home can help with the transition of coming to the centre.
  5. Allow them to have some control over their day by letting them choose what they will bring with them or what they will dress on that particular day.
  6. Bid a fond and heartfelt farewell to the person, keep it brief, and then leave the room. Even if we know how challenging it is, dragging it out would make the separation more agonising.
  7. Maintain open lines of communication with the teachers so that you can get to know them and they can learn to know you. Establish an excellent working relationship with them, and don’t be afraid to get in touch with them anytime to find out how things are going.

Also, please do not forget that you can contact us anytime. You can check in with us as frequently as you like to find out how your child is doing, and you can monitor your kids’ activities with the Kids Club app!

How do educators settle toddlers in childcare?

  1. First, educators ensure that essential health and safety requirements are monitored and implemented by understanding and settling in policy childcare. 
  2. Early child care focuses on the unique learning abilities of babies and toddlers. Carers and educators are trained to plan appropriate activities, use daily routines to bond with babies, and provide cognitive stimulation through conversation, interaction and responsive relationships. 
  3. Educators and daycare provide the environment appropriate to your child. This involves not just the physical aspect but also the mental and emotional atmosphere of the childcare setting. Young children under three acquire knowledge through ongoing exploration and interaction with their surroundings.

Babies and toddlers require secure environments where they can engage in fair and active play (indoors and outdoors) and safe space to sleep, play or interact one-on-one with a specific carer. They must be put in a place where they have access to toys and activities chosen primarily for unique interests and abilities rather than generic group play designed to accommodate everyone.

  1. Educators are trained to provide a responsive childcare system. Carers know how to take cues from each child and whether to expand on the child’s initiative, guide, instruct and intervene. 

They identify stress indicators in the child and adapt to the child’s needs accordingly. 

Responsive childcare needs careful observation, knowledge of child development, and respect for each kid’s temper, preferences, and capabilities. 

  1. Through education and care setting, educators can provide extensive support services to help settle your children. Childcare helps families by supporting them while making sure that the children have a safe and pleasant environment within their homes. A family’s access to vital community resources, such as social and mental health services, and therapeutic interference, can be facilitated through child care. Open communication between child care and service providers produces a more comprehensive and accessible system for families.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I settle my child in daycare?

Feeling anxious, nervous and even a little scared is normal when you leave your baby for the first time. But there are things you can do to help your child settle into daycare.

  • Before your child starts daycare, talk to them about what they’ll be doing and what they can expect while there. 
  • If you’ve been to a playgroup with them, use those experiences as examples of what they’ll be doing at daycare.
  • Keep it simple if you want to send them off with something special from home. A favourite toy or blanket can help them feel secure during the transition.

How long does it take babies to settle into daycare?

The truth is that it takes some time for babies to adjust to a new situation. This can happen at home as well as in early learning centre. Most babies will indeed settle into their new routine within a few weeks, but some can take longer than others.

It’s also worth understanding that the first week or two of attending daycare will be particularly stressful for your baby. They’ll be adjusting to new people and places, so it’s important to give them lots of love and attention during this time.

What is a settling-in period at the nursery?

A settling-in period is when your child may be unsettled, distressed or upset. It is not unusual for children to have a period of adjustment after starting a nursery.

This can last anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks. It’s important to know that this is a normal part of starting nursery and not something to worry about.

During this time, parents can help by:

  • reassuring their child that they are safe and loved
  • listening to them
  • staying calm
  • keeping things simple
  • spending extra time with them at home
  • keeping communication open
  • taking care of themselves
  • trying not to take things personally

If your child has been at the nursery for some time but seems unsettled, talk with our staff about possible changes that might help them settle in again.

What steps do you take to settle a child?

Young children thrive on structure and predictability. It helps them feel safe and secure — knowing what’s going to happen next gives them a sense of control over their lives.

Routines can be especially helpful when it comes to settling a child at night. You’ve probably noticed that your child is much more likely to settle down when you do the same things at the same time every night before bed (bath, books, snack, etc.). So, try to keep things predictable and consistent.

How do you know if your child is unhappy at daycare?

It’s normal for parents to worry about their children being cared for by someone else, but if you’re concerned that your child isn’t happy at daycare, there are some signs to look out for.

If you notice your child behaving differently since starting daycare, it could be a sign that they are unhappy. For example, if they used to be a happy and outgoing child but now seem withdrawn or clingy, this could be due to them missing you or feeling anxious about going to daycare. If this happens regularly, it may be time to talk with the staff about your concerns and see if anything can be done to help your child feel more comfortable.

Why does my child cry all day at daycare?

It is common for children to cry during the first few days of attending a new daycare. This can be especially true if they are in a new environment, away from their parents. Most children will adjust to their new surroundings within a week or two. Some children may take longer than others and may need extra attention and reassurance from their parents.

If your child has been going to the same daycare for some time, you may want to ask the daycare provider about any changes in the routine. There may have been changes in the schedule or activities for the children. If this is the case, try talking to your child about the change and reminding them that everything will be okay.

Settling in Childcare

The first few days and weeks in a new childcare environment can be a big change for both you and your child. Give them time to adjust, and don’t expect too much from them during this time. You may find that your child struggles at first, but after about a few weeks, they should start settling well in their new place.

Be prepared for separation anxiety. It is normal for young children, especially those under three years old. Some children will show signs of separation anxiety as early as six months old, while others won’t show signs until they’re closer to 2 years old. If your little one seems clingy and doesn’t want you to leave them at all times, don’t worry! This is completely natural behaviour and will likely pass over time as they get used to the people around them. 

Entering an early learning centre is a significant transition for any child. Once you’ve established that your child will be entering care and you still have further questions on how to help them settle, talking to your kid’s early childhood educators and carers is the best thing to do.

If you want to learn more, call Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres or book a tour now of your closest Kids Club Early Learning Centre, click here to view your closest Centre.

As the leading provider of early childhood care in Australia we always put your child first. We are committed to 7 National Quality Standards.