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Strategies to settle new arrivals in childcare for educators

Key points to remember:

  • Transitioning a child into a childcare program is challenging for the child, the parents/guardians, and the educator.
  • Communication is essential in the process. Make sure to communicate with the child at every step.
  • Be patient and open-minded. This is a big step for a child, so they might need some time and practice to get used to the process.
  • Use positive reinforcement and assure the child that this is a fun journey.
  • It’s okay to search for others’ observations during settling in childcare but remember that each child is unique and may have different experiences.
  • Always say “Goodbye, see you soon” and avoid sneaking out, this can be very traumatic for a child when suddenly their parent is gone.

Parents and kids can have a hard time making the change from being at home to being in childcare. Some children adapt quickly to their new surroundings, but others find it hard to get used to their environment. 

For parents and caregivers new to childcare or prepared for this milestone, the most difficult adjustment can be the initial separation anxiety.

What is Separation Anxiety?

When young children between the ages of 8 months and 4 years are set apart from their parents, separation anxiety is a normal response. Many young children will experience separation from their parents for the first time in childcare, which can be hard for educators to manage. 

When your child first goes to school, it’s natural to wonder how they’ll adjust. We all want our kids to love learning, make friends and be happy at school. But for some children, the adjustment can be difficult.

It’s important to keep in mind that the first few days of school are always tough. You might notice that your child has more energy or is more emotional than usual. This transition can be stressful for both the child and the adults involved. You may both experience an unexpected emotional response. For this reason, it is essential to emphasise the positives so all parties can move swiftly into a healthy, happy routine.

Welcoming new children into your childcare program?

Transitioning children into a childcare program is a significant change in a child’s life. It can be an overwhelming experience for everyone involved. 

This experience will vary from person to person. Some children can easily transition, while some have a more difficult time. There is also no exact time frame as to when your child will settle in, as it can vary per child.

However, as an educator, you can take measures to make it an easy process for the child, parent and yourself. So here are steps you can make to ensure an optimal environment for settling new arrivals in childcare.

How to settle a distressed child in childcare

1. Preparation

Knowing that a new child is coming to your classroom means you must be prepared for them. Make sure that you have everything you need with you. This will mean a lot to the child and the parents and will also set the tone for this family’s experience with the centre and with you as a professional. Preparing activities in which you can introduce and incorporate the child will make all the difference. 

2. Get to know the child

Go through the child’s profile thoroughly. It’s important to take note of critical information like allergies to avoid any future mishaps. Don’t overlook nailing down the spelling and pronunciation of their name or preferred nickname. Take note of their individual situation. Is it their first time joining a childcare program, or have they been under any childcare besides their parents? Knowing these details will help you come up with more strategies to settle new arrivals in childcare for educators.

3. Ready a warm welcome

Have a quick and fun introduction of yourself so that you can set up a level of familiarity with them. A good trick is to speak to the child at eye level. Spend one-on-one time with the new child to make them feel personally welcomed. Give the child a tour of the area. Give them a rundown of the routines and schedules, so they know what to expect in their day. You can also give out rules and guidelines and communicate the how-tos of your centre.

4. Get introductions in order

Introduce the child to the other children in their new class and introduce the group to the new child. Get them acquainted with each other. It makes it easier for the new child to bond with others if you really give time to let them get to know each other.

5. Be ready to lend a hand

Be ready to extend help at any moment in the first few days. As they settle in, they will encounter many new things that will need your guidance. You can also make use of a buddy system and designate a child who is well acquainted with the program. This way, they will have more support in getting familiar with the process.

6. Keep the parents involved

Ensure the parents are always in the loop with how their child is doing. While the child is getting used to the new setup, remember that so are their parents. Therefore regular updates and communication with them are always appreciated. Sending them notes and pictures of their child’s activities in the centre helps keep them at ease and well informed about their child’s growth.

Ready to take a new child under your wing?

There is no perfect transition into childcare. We always have to remember that children have their individuality and will need different types of support when settling in. As educators, the best thing we could do is to prepare, be proactive, and most importantly, be patient when welcoming a new child into childcare. Just remember to be kind and mindful and make it a fun experience for the child.

Want to learn more about the settling-in period? Read: It takes 6 weeks to settle your child in daycare.

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.

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