You've bought a backpack, labeled your child's lunchbox and have taken a tour of the school. No, your child isn't getting ready for kindergarten, she's starting daycare. If this is your child's first time in out-of-the-home care, you can making the prep fun! How? Check out these tips that will help to prepare your little one for her first day of daycare.
- Pretend. The national early childhood organization Zero to Three suggests using pretend play as a way to get young children ready for preschool or child care. Set up a 'classroom' at home and play the parts of people who will be at school. For example, you start out as the teacher and your child plays the role of the student. Next, switch characters and let her be the room leader. This helps her to see and understand what her daycare day will be like and makes her more comfortable with what to expect.
- Set up a playdate. If possible, give your child a chance to get social with another child in her class. Invite one of her daycare playmates over for an afternoon of arts and crafts, dress-up pretend play and backyard races.
- Have a class outing. Organize an unofficial field trip, asking parents to tag along too. Invite the entire daycare room to go to the zoo, community pool or another age-appropriate play-space.
- Look at books. Your child may not fully understand what daycare is and what happens there. Read a book on the subject to make it familiar, such as Tanisha Quinton's My First Day At Daycare or Shelley Admont's I Love to Go to Daycare.
- Play a game. Make two sets of cards – one with home pictures and the other with daycare ones. You can create these by cutting out photos, magazine pictures or images that you find online and pasting them to index cards. Have your child sort and separate the two piles, showing you that she knows the difference between home and school.
Daycare isn't just a place to drop your child off while you're at work. It's a magical play-space for your child. A place where she can learn, grow, develop and make her very first friends. Instead of focusing on the fact that you'll be away from your child all day, make prepping for her first child care experience fun. Pack your prep-time with play, books and friend-filled activities.
For professional child care, contact a company such as Mendon Child Care Ctr.