As we approach the end of 2021 (and boy, what a year it has been!), it’s time to start considering the new year and all of the wonderful changes ahead of us…
Most children within your care will be moving up to a new classroom environment, or if not, their educators may well be changing rooms. Additionally, you may be welcoming new children and their families into the centre. It is important that as educators, we take the necessary steps in creating a welcoming, calm and safe environment to help ease any fears or uncertainties that accompany these huge transitions in the lives of our little ones.
So, how can we assist children and their families in the settling in process?
Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a well known parenting expert and a highly regarded popular childcare author, provides some tips that we thought address the settling of children rather well:
1. It is important that we come from a place of understanding, respect and kindness
For some parents, leaving their children, their babies, with strangers for the first or even the thirty-first time is a traumatic experience. Parents and their children naturally form strong attachments to each other and for some, it is incredibly difficult to walk away from their crying child because that is what they feel they are expected to do. What is more helpful for both parties, is that the educators respect the attachments and the emotions that come with them, show genuine concern and provide the opportunity to work through any concerns that the parents might have.
2. Ask all the questions!
Families will feel much more at ease leaving their children in your care if you take a genuine interest in their children. Asking questions shows that you care and alleviates any fears that parents may have around their child’s routine and care, no matter how small or silly it may seem! Ask about their morning, their toileting, their feeding, their likes and dislikes…asking all the questions will not only make the parents feel confident leaving their child with you, but it will help you in building a relationship with that child too.
3. Buddy those parents up
For new starters, consider setting up the parents with the contact details (with permission of course) of other parents in the centre. Nothing helps a nervous parents out more than creating a village of other parents that have been there before and can offer some friendly advice and help put their mind at ease.
4. Play dates
For those transitioning from one class to the next, consider play dates for small groups of children at a time with the educators that they will be with next year (if staffing allows of course) and in the room that they will be in. This will help them to become familiar with the environment that they will be moving to and to begin building relationships with their educators so that it’s not such a shock when returning to the service after Christmas.
Similarly, for new starters, allow them to come in towards the end of the year for a few play dates with their soon-to-be educators – you could even provide a little photo book (of the educators and environments) for the families to take home and show their children over the holidays.
5. Encourage the use of transitional objects.
Does the child have a special toy or object that they have an attachment to? Encourage them to bring it to kindy to help bring them comfort. Make sure parents label them however, the impacts of a lost snuggly can be disastrous come bedtime!
6. Be honest.
It might be tempting to say that a child had a great day to put families at ease when they come to pick up their child, however it is much more important to be honest. Parent’s will always be able to tell if their child has had an emotional day and in telling them the truth about this, you are not only building their confidence in you, as their child’s caregiver, but you are also making their evening SO much easier. They’ll understand why their child is so tired, clingy or maybe why they are being a bit of a monkey. Parent’s value honesty!
7. Be flexible where you can
In childcare we are governed by regulations and standards when it comes to the care we provide, however try to be flexible where you can. Maybe Jack needs an extra nap one day or he’s going through a growth spurt and the reason he’s so unsettled is because he’s hungry – give him an extra snack if it’ll help meet his needs. It is our duty, as educators, to care for the children and sometimes we have to stray from the usual daily routine in order to fulfil this duty.
8. Put yourself in the child’s shoes
Can you imagine having spent all of your days so far in the arms of only your mum and dad? To be suddenly taken from them and put into a highly stimulating environment would be pretty scary! Don’t forget to have empathy for the children as well as the families. Playing little games, reading books and just taking the time to build a special bond with the children will make the world of difference to them, their families and to your life as an educator.
How can your service make the most of Kinderloop to help with settling children and their families into a new environment?
Daily Activity Charts
Keep your families up to date with their children’s meal habits, nappy changes, toileting, sunscreen applications and more by making the most of our Daily Activity charts. Families will be able to view these in real time on the app and the feedback that we have received so far is that they really love the updates!
Within each child’s profile is the ability for families to provide information about their child’s routine. Encourage your families to update this section as their child’s needs change across the year.
‘All About Me’ surveys
Using Kinderloop’s survey function, you might like to send families a questionnaire to gain an insight into their child’s life. You could include their interests, abilities, likes and dislikes, routine information, and any other questions that will assist in getting to know the children as they enter their new environments. Take a look at the example below:
We’d love to hear from you if you have any special tips and tricks that your centre uses to help settle the little ones at the start of a new year or upon entering care for the first time. Please comment below!