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Helping Your Toddler Adjust to Daycare

by:Joy Summit      2020-11-01
You purchased the adorable backpack, matching lunchbox and personalized both for good measure. The back-to-school outfit was bought in June, matching shoes in July and the perfect accessory the first week of August. School should be a cinch. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. Some children take to school like a fish to water, but for others there is an adjustment period.
After spending three years at home with me, my daughter was unprepared for all the rules that her classroom had. She would wander into the kitchen and help herself to an apple, speak whenever she wanted to and would refuse to share a toy if she 'got it first'. All her classmates were entering their fourth year of structured daycare and she was the only one who had no clue on how to conduct herself. After much discussions and roleplaying, I was able to teach her the basic rules of the classroom.
Looking back, I should have taught her all the necessary skills before she entered school, and she would been much better off. If your child is entering school for the first time, don't wait for the teacher to teach her all she needs to know about classroom behaviors. Prep her by having discussions or reading books - I like DW's Guide to Preschool.
Even you if you are nervous, always maintain a positive front. Take a picture of her on the first day wearing her new back-to-school outfit and briefcase. When leaving her off in school, do not sneak away. Tell her you are going and will be back at the end of the day. If she begins to cry, ask the teacher to take over. Most children stop crying shortly after the parent leaves, if you are still worried call the school when you get to work to make sure she is okay.
If your child is nervous in the morning, give her a picture of you to put into her knapsack. Tell her you will be going with her in her knapsack and if she misses you she can take a quick peek. If she continues crying after a week, try to send someone else to bring her to school. It may be that she enjoys the attention she is getting from you from when she cries or will be embarrassed to cry in front of Grandma. Make a big deal about her 'no crying milestone' when she gets home.
Acknowledge that it's hard to be away, but you are sure she will have so much fun and make so many new friends. If she knows you understand her, she will be comforted. When picking him up don't smother him with kisses or overwhelm him with questions. He just had a very stimulating day. Give him some time to unwind when he gets home. Toddlers find it hard to answer broad questions such as 'how was your day?'. Stick to questions such as 'what did you eat for lunch?' or 'who do you sit next to?.' Ask the teacher who he seems to like and invite that child over to play during the weekend.
If a few weeks go by and your child still hasn't adjusted makes sure the daycare is okay and everything is up to par. If everything checks out, you can ask the teacher for some help to make the transition go more smoothly. An extra dose of attention can work wonders!

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