Daycare adjustment: how to make sure it goes smoothly?
We have started procedures to sign up our daughter in a daycare. We dread the beginning of daycare as our eldest son strongly reacted for almost a full year following his daycare debut and we do not want it to be the same for our daughter. What can we do to facilitate her integration and speed up her adaptation?
A child starting daycare can represent an important stressor for parents and children alike as it requires adjustments and brings new elements to the family life. The required adjustment period for the child can vary anywhere between a few weeks to a couple of months. Different steps are associated to the child’s adjustment to a daycare:
Aside from the social and family aspects, it should be mentioned that the level of stress felt by children during their daycare adjustment is increased. This can have great impacts on the brains of children under the age of three. Since a family’s context does not always allow pushing back a child’s daycare entrance, we offer various tips to ensure that everything goes smoothly:
● The adjustment period should be done slowly to decrease the stress felt by the child, reassure him and allow for a progressive adaptation to the new setting. Pressuring the child or dismissing his emotions does not help.
● Preserve the child’s routines to keep his reference points during this period of changes.
● Frequently communicate with the child’s educator to inform him of how to properly take care of your child. You can also ask how the days are organized. Developing a bond with the educator is favorable to your child’s adjustment to daycare: if he sees you trust the educator, he will tend to feel better.
● Provide your child with indicators that hint when you will come to pick him up (e.g. after a nap).
● Spend quality time with your child after daycare to reduce the stress he felt throughout the day, reassure him and solidify the attachment bond between your child and yourself.
● Talk about the daycare when the child is with you. This will allow for a better adaptation and make the child realise your attention towards his well-being.
Other daycare factors that can have an impact on your child’s adjustment include:
● The child to educator ratio which can have an impact on the development of a significant bond with the educator as well as the number of stressors and stimulations within the group.
● The staff’s turnover rate which may increase the stress felt by the child and compromise the development of an attachment bond with the educator.
● The sensitivity of staff in responding to the needs and signals of the child.
● The staff’s training and ability to take care of the child’s particularities, if any.
In order to reassure the child during his daycare integration, there must be a strong bond between the child and his parent before daycare starts. In fact, being able to count on the parent allows the child to better go through this period of adaptation.
It is important to mention that daycare adjustments may take months. To help the child, it is crucial to be patient, support him emotionally and be present.
*The use of the pronoun “he” is meant to alleviate the reading of this document.
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