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Stephanie Benoit-Terrazas

I was an early childhood educator for 7 years. I am extremely passionate about global access to high-quality education. I have been working in the education space for a decade. I have a CDA, Bachelor of Arts in History, and another in Political Science. I have a Master's Degree in Communications and Media Studies.

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5 best practices for Helping you child adjust to daycare

August 8, 2021
Stephanie Benoit-Terrazas

Dropping your little one off at school can be very bitter sweet. You want them to learn to play with other people, you want them to build social/ emotional skills, but that is also your baby. You want to be with them. I have had a front row seat to that back and forth between needing to get to work and wanting to be with your child. That feeling of ambivalence can cause anxiety and frustration in both parents and children. You did not want to let them go and miss out on the fleeting precious moments, but you also want to set them up for good everyday.

If you are new to parenting and/ or to taking your baby to school there are so many questions and concerns that you might plague you as you walk out the door. Here are 5 ways to help your child bond with their teacher and help with peace of mind at morning drop offs.  

1. HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THE TEACHER AHEAD OF YOUR FIRST DAY

There are childcare centers that are very in tune with your desire for a nurturing environment for their child. I’ve worked at places that allowed parents an intake meeting with teachers and I’ve worked at places where every portion of intake was handled by the administrative staff. Regardless of which model your school has always make sure you can meet with the teacher in order to ease your mind. If you feel secure about the environment, then your child will also be at ease during drop offs. Tell the teacher about your child, your concerns, and how to stay in contact. Work with them to  come up with a plan to help with those first day jitters.

Intakes were essential to my ability to bond with every child I came in contact with. They allowed me to figure out how to approach each child’s needs and address what it would take to make them feel comfortable at school. It also helps you to know that it is safe to talk to the teacher about concerns you might have or ideas about how to help with issues that might arise as we care for your child.

2. PREPARE YOUR CHILD  

This is the most sound advice you will ever receive. Talk to your children about EVERYTHING! Let them know about plans. Take them to tours and intakes if you can and let them guide your choice. Kids are very intuitive. My partner and I took our nephew apartment hunting with us. Out of the six locations we visited that day, there were only two locations where he was at ease and wandered and he gravitated towards the leasing agent. We let distance from work and money be the deciding factor between those two, but we feel at home and he feels at home and that is what matters. Trust their instincts in order to have more meaningful connections.  Talk to them about school. Show them pictures of the children and teachers in their class. Make it exciting for them. Talk about school like the magical experience it can be for them. Preparing them also prepares you and sets expectations.

3. CREATE A DROP OFF RITUAL

Helping children adjust to school becomes easier when there is something they can count on everyday. I had a practice of greeting each and every child in a way that helped them feel welcomed and wanted. Some children want excited greetings with big hugs and fanfare, other children really wanted a quiet hello and a moment to say goodbye to their parents. I find it to be important to respect the last few moments moms and dads have before heading out to work. They’re able to build a ritual that reminded the child that mom and dad loved them and that they would return. The ritual would sometimes look like a quick cuddle session. Sometimes the parent would read a book or build with blocks. Sometimes it was engaging with the teacher. For others it was just sitting and sharing a few bites of breakfast.I have a student who wouldn’t let go of her parent’s hand until I had her hand. That ritual told their child that mom and dad trusted me and that they would come back before I left for the day. Every ritual allowed for bonding opportunities for the families and gave children a clear understanding that their parents would return

4. LET YOUR CHILD WALK IN THE DOOR

Letting toddlers and preschoolers walk in to school on their own gives them the opportunity to explore their new environment, to bond with teachers and other children, and a sense of independence. If you need to, you should carry them in the building. Safety is the most important thing, but when you are approaching the door try to put your child down and encourage them to walk on their own. It will make the transition easier on the both of you.

5. GIVE THEM AN IDEA OF WHEN YOU WILL RETURN.  

I know that the parent that drops off isn’t always the parent who picks up. You may have an au pair or nanny that picks up, grandma or grandpa might be the person who covers your childcare needs after school is done. Whatever the case, tell your child who is picking them up and at what point in the schedule they will come. I had a student who had terrible separation anxiety. She would cry everyday at drop off. Finally, we built a routine around her drop off and pick ups. On the days she came to school, her mom would be there and we would all walk to the class together. We’d get her breakfast set up and have a run down of the day. Her mother would let her know when she or dad would be back to get her. It really helped her to know what her day would look like. Sometimes she would still cry, but it got so much better over time with those routines and rituals I place.

BONUS TIP:

Early childhood teachers are there to partner with you in reaching your parenting goals. Building a rapport with them is important. Ask for details about you child’s day. Be honest with the teacher and yourself about behaviors or concerns. Having open communication with your child’s teacher in all situations will really help your child thrive.

What are some some morning rituals you had with your parents or that you have with your child or students?