In our recent post about what to expect when starting daycare or preschool, we said that starting daycare is a lot like flying. The first takeoff in particular can be stressful before the whole crew (you, your child and your child care provider) reaches a “cruising altitude” comfort zone. While switching daycares may not be as big of a change as starting the very first time, it’s not easy either!
Just as layovers are difficult for even the most seasoned travelers, switching daycares or preschools will have its own turbulence pockets for both parents and children. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth crew change.
1. Ask the previous teacher to jot down some notes. You can do this during the last few days at the old daycare center. Child care providers speak the “child care provider” language, just like lawyers speak “lawyer” and programmers speak “programmer” etc. Their notes will be a great addition to what you share with the new caregivers and teachers in your “parent” language.
2. Make sure your child “says goodbye” to the old daycare. Switching daycares means saying goodbye to caregivers, teachers and classmates, obviously. Also, it means parting with toys, books and places he or she likes. You can even think about some kind of farewell party.
3. Set the scene. Make sure you talk a lot to your child in advance about the upcoming change. Reading books about the scenario is also a good idea. You can even do some “rehearsals” to help the idea sink in. Kids process information in a variety of different ways; the more the better.
4. Do a test run. Visit the new daycare or preschool facilities once or twice to grease the wheels a little before the first “real” day. Introduce the new teacher and say hello to the other toddlers or preschoolers. This is especially important if you’re going from the small family-like environment of a home daycare to a larger child care center or preschool.
5. Stick to what worked before. If you developed some “standard operating procedures”, aka kissing goodbye or reading a book before leaving the house in the morning, stick to them!
6. Try to be flexible time-wise. Especially for the first few weeks, you should plan ahead, just in case you need to stay a little longer in the mornings for drop-offs and come a little (or a lot) earlier in the afternoons for pick-ups. Be patient until your child gets used to the new environment.
7. Aim for a spring or summer transition if possible. Transitioning to a new daycare during cold-season is an excellent thing to avoid if you can! Let your child deal with the emotional and immunity challenges one at a time!
Have you recently changed daycares or preschools for your child? What tips can you share with other parents? If you’re a child care provider or preschool teacher, what tips can you offer parents who are switching child care programs to help with the transition?
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