Now that you have selected a program, it is time to prepare your child for this new experience:
- If your child has not had much time away from you, plan to have him or her spend some time with other caregivers (friends, neighbors, family) without you there. The message you want the child to get is that there are other loving adults who will care for him even when you are not there.
- Visit the program you have selected with your child. Let your child explore the space and begin to meet the care providers and the other children.
- Read books together about young children going to child care. Your public library can be a resource for easy-to-read books that you can share with your child.
- Purchase any necessary supplies together. If your child is old enough, let him help in picking his own backpack, etc.
- Identify some items the child can bring to the child care program for comfort: a photo of you or your family, a favorite stuffed toy.
- If your child is already speaking, he may express some worries or fears about going to the program. Listen, reassure, talk about times you have been worried about something.
YOU CAN ALSO PREPARE YOURSELF
You have done the work of selecting a child care program. But you may also feel some anxiety as your child’s first day approaches. All the ways to prepare your child that we have listed here are about being connected with your child and letting him or her know that you will be going through this experience together. In taking these steps, you may also find that these preparations help you.
With your preparations complete, you both will be ready for your next step - the destination in this process, your child’s First Day at the child care program.