As parents, many of us have to deal with a challenging transition period of switching our children from being at home to being in a day care environment. When it was my turn to transition my children to the wonderful new world of day care (Wee Watch being my #1 choice), I thought of many ways to make the switch smoother for them, and in turn for myself. Here are some of the things I encourage all parents to incorporate in their regular routine of transitioning:
Give your child the experience of being away from you. When I ran errands, I had my children stay with my mother for a few hours. I started off with 3 hours and gradually worked up to several hours. By doing this, my kids became used to not being with me all the time and they had trust in knowing that I always came back to pick them up. Also, it gave me some time to complete my to-do-list before returning back to work.
Help them make sense of how much time you’ll be away. Explaining to my children the amount of time I was going to be away helped them understand how long it would take for me to come back. Giving them an example of “it’s the same time it takes to watch a movie, take a nap, or bake a cake”, made it easier for them to understand the amount of time I would be away.
Ask for a copy of your Provider’s daily routine prior to starting care. Knowing what their new routine would be like in day care helped me integrate the same type of routine in my home. I asked my Provider when meal times and sleep times would occur during the day and incorporated the same into our day at home. This not only helped my children during transitioning into their new day care environment, it assisted in balancing our routine at home too.
Talk and read to your child. Talking to my children about their new day care environment helped build excitement and comfort before the big day came. We talked about how much fun day care would be, all the fun things they would learn and do and spoke of all the new friends they would make. We also read books about day care; one of my favorites included “I Love you All Day Long” by Francesca Rusackas.
Inquire on “Transition/Gradual Start” with the day care. I signed up for a Gradual Start period for my children with their Provider. It offered a “trial run” to a regular day of care. It consisted of 3 hours of care on day 1, 5 hours of care on day 2 and 8 hours of care on day 3, followed by full time care thereafter. Many day care agencies offer this option as it helps with the transitioning of the children into care.Sandra Christidis Wee Watch Vaughan, Supervisor