Recently we put Cameron in a new daycare. This was because we are finally settled in our new home and city and it was time to place her in an actual daycare. Not that we haven’t loved the last 7-8 months of “Grammy daycare” where my mom watched her, but it was time for her to be in an actual school and around other kids. Back in California, she went to an in-home daycare, which we loved. Loved the caretaker, loved the facility, loved how comfortable Cameron felt going there. This daycare is an actual institution with different classrooms for different age groups, so she is with kids her own age. When we toured the facility she seemed to take right to it, which was nice, not to mention they were one of the only places we liked that had an immediate opening, which was awesome. So, we got her signed up and hoped things would work out. I was a bit hesitant, not with the school itself, but how Cameron would react. Going from seeing me, and being around only adults for 7-8 months to go to a school all day with strangers would be a be change for a toddler. Not to mention, we are still working through her speech concerns, so I was hoping that would not hinder any communication she would be able to have with her teachers.
I will say, the first couple days were tough. Not sure who it was rougher on, me or her. I was constantly feeling bad leaving her because she would not want me to leave, and would cry and scream as I did. Then I would feel so guilty, for her because she was so upset and scared, and for the teachers for having to deal with a child would was so unsure of where she was. After those first couple days though, she did start to enjoy herself, drop-offs, while still not perfect, have gotten a little better, and her teachers have been saying she’s doing better and better, interacting more, and all around have a much better time. One another amazing thing about this school is that I have an app that sends me updates on Cameron’s day, so I can see when she’s been changed, what she’s eating (because this place includes breakfast, lunch, and a snack), as well as how she naps.
Here’s a few things I learned in the few weeks since sending her back to a school. Because we started sending her to daycare back in California when she was only 4 months old, we didn’t have as much of a fear or fight from her, because she wasn’t old enough to really understand what was happening.
Try keeping all their other routines normal.- Keep their morning routine, their evening routine, and their bedtime routine as close to normal as possible. That way they still have a sense of their normal life, even when they feel like it’s been disrupted by going to school.
Give them loads of hugs and reassurance.– I tried to give Cameron as many hugs as I could when dropping her off. Then I would always tell her she would have a great day, and her teachers couldn’t wait to teach her, and the kids wanted to play with her. I also always tried to mention when I would be back to pick her up, or her father if he was doing pick up that day. Now, I know she can tell time, or concept of time, so I’m sure it didn’t make much sense to her since it all probably felt forever. But I tried to do this so she understood that we still loved her and would always come back for her.
Try to stay consistent.– This is something that can be easy or hard, depending on scheduling, and parent work responsibilities. But I’ve been trying to drop her off and pick her up at the same time, or as close to the same time each day. So once again having her start to feel that comfortable sense when going to and from daycare. I think I have noticed she seems to have a more understanding in the morning, that when we get in the car, daycare is where we are going. So that has helped a lot too.
Don’t linger, but don’t sneak out.– Obviously if we could stay all day to make them feel better we would. But you want to be firm with the fact that you let them know you are leaving. They may hate that, and cry, and cling to you, but it’s best to stay firm that you need to go and they need to stay. But at the same time, you don’t want to sneak out because that may cause them to go into a bigger fit because you aren’t around anymore and they didn’t see you leave. So I would drop her off, back towards the door, tell her she would have a great day, that I loved her, and while watching her, leave the room and close the door. It is tough, and if she would start to cry my heart would break, but after a few days, leaving has gotten easier and easier for us both. The workers have even said that she doesn’t cry as much once I leave.
Be excited for them.- I try to get her excited for the upcoming day, and the crafts they will do, the things they will learn, and what she will eat, so that she may get excited too. I think if I show excited, she knows it’s OK and that she will have fun.
Now this may not be every tip, or trick, and this may not work for everyone. But these are the few things we’ve been doing over the past few weeks and it seems to be helping her get more comfortable with her new school surroundings.