The first day of childcare can be a scary step for both child and parent and can take some time to adjust. Despite a parent’s best efforts of selecting the right education and care centre, leaving their young one in someone else’s care can be a very emotional time, with parents wondering how their child will cope without them throughout the day.
Jessica Horne-Kennedy, a Gowrie NSW consultant, has some suggestions for how educators can help children and parents start childcare off on the right foot, softening the stress for both parent and child.
“Research tells us that a child’s first transition from the home environment to an early childhood setting is crucial and influences not only a child’s development in the short term but also has an impact on additional transitions that the child experiences, such as beginning school,” Jessica said.
Therefore it is vital that parents and educators view this first transition as ‘planting the seed’ for security and wellbeing in the future.
Building trust with the child and the child’s carer, Jessica said, is the first step educators should take during this transition. “It is essential that we as educators allow time to form connections with each child and their parents/carers and not rush the process,” she explained.
“Building secure, warm and sensitive connections with families creates a circle of support around the child.
“If a child sees and feels that their parent/carer feels positive and secure about you and the early learning environment then this in turn influences the child’s experience,” Jessica added.
Secondly educators, Jessica said, need to be sensitive to each child’s specific needs during this time. “Being sensitive to the child means that we are able to tune into the supports that will be of most benefit to aid the child’s experience. For some children it may be a special toy or object from home. Another child may need to be held, another may need their own personal space and to know you are close by is simply enough,” she said.
Finally, ‘planning’ for this transition is really important. “Services could schedule transition visits or play mornings as opportunities for the child and their parent/carer to come prior to the child beginning to build familiarity with the new environment and those within it,” Jessica said.
Ultimately, working together and ensuring that we as educators listen and give plenty of space and time for the process will create a positive beginning for all involved, Jessica added.
For more information on this topic or to book a consultancy session with Jessica Horne-Kennedy email firstname.lastname@example.org