Sending your kid to daycare is hard as it is. Try sending them after they have been home with mommy, daddy, and grandma for 3 years during a pandemic. Social skills hardly had a chance to develop, clingy behavior has definitely been developed, and the thought of being out of your parent’s presence for more than 2 minutes is the most horrifying thought imaginable.
We were fortunate enough to ease into the daycare scene with our first child going at age 3 while my mother watched the other two kids. However, my daughter being the first to go had its own set of challenges. We dealt with scream crying at drop off, texts from the teacher explaining she is still crying even hours into being there, crying even at the mention of “school” for the next day, and more. My daughter is the kindest, sweetest little girl, but she is stubborn as anything. It was no surprise that these behaviors would continue for over a month, but eventually it did get better. Soon enough she was running to the teacher, happily talking at home about her new friends, and even sometimes not wanting to leave school.
Once we got the daycare routine with her down, boom it was time for summer! We have the benefit of my wife being a teacher so she is home during the summer, but that also made the whole process start over again in the fall. Meltdowns party of 3 this time.
The first day drop off consisted of a two parent assist, with an older child hand off (with tears) to the preschool teacher, a middle child fumble into the toddler group (with some mimicking tears of his sister), and a youngest child touchdown to the infant room with no issues. As the weeks have gone on, we have gotten the routine down and have worked out the melt downs for a seamless drop off process.
Here’s some tips to help with the transition to daycare that we found useful:
- Tour the daycare facility with them so they are familiar with it.
- Talk about the daycare or childcare center openly with your child.
A lot of children like to know about their schedules, even at a young age. My kids all like to know what the schedule for each day looks like even though they are all toddlers or right out of the toddler age. Providing them with the details about their daycare and what their day will look like gives them an opportunity to feel less shocked by the things that are going on there.
- Don’t linger.
The more you linger at drop off, the more time your child has to keep their attachment to you in that moment going. A quick drop and go mentality is the best way to alleviate the melt downs.It is hard and you may feel like the worst parent ever ( I know my wife and I did), but we did find that after a few days with this process, the kids learned to expect it and the crying last only a few short minutes.
- Request feedback from the teachers.
We are in constant communication with our kids’ teacher either via texting or through their communication system. If you are worried how your child may be doing after a tough drop off, always check with the teacher after a few minutes to see if they have calmed down. It also allows you to provide the teacher with some tips that may help them work with your child.
- Have your child review their day with you each day.
Having your child run through their day allows them to get excited all over again about the things they did and learned. Hearing about a new friend they made or a fun project they did not only makes you feel more relaxed as the parent, but it also reinforces to the child that they enjoyed their time at daycare and would like to go back again.
One other thing to be sure of is that you follow the daycare facility’s supply list. Supply lists vary from daycare to daycare, but items we found useful were:
- Nap Mats
- Insulated lunch boxes
- Large size backpacks (helps the teachers put more into it for projects and things they send home)
- Formula dispenser
- Insulated water bottles
- A family picture (can be helpful to have them calm down)
It is important to try and not be hard on yourself as the parent during this transitional time. Your emotions will be all over the place, but it is normal and it does get better. And if it doesn’t, there’s always kindergarten!
Links to supplies we use are here: