- By Sarah Knipping, Centre Manager Miramar Childcare
Tips as you settle your little one into an ECE centre.
Settling a child into a centre can be an emotional journey for many parents/guardians and children. This is a big change and big transition and can often be linked to big changes for a parent/guardian returning to work, and big changes in the daily experience for your little one. Here are a few little tidbits to help you prepare for the settling process as a parent/guardians:
Enjoy the preparing process:
Have your day bag and items all ready for your little one, maybe get a special bag for this exciting new stage. Make it special and enjoy it! Take the time to think about what clothes they might need (and what ones you’re OK with getting covered in sand, paint and mess..!), what daily items they will need and label everything!
Enjoy the time while your little one is at the centre:
This space is designed and catered to making your child’s life wonderful – toys, peers, educated kaiako who are trained at a tertiary level to educate and care for your little one! Enjoy the time knowing that your little one is nurtured, safe, learning and having fun!
You might find it harder than your child:
Sometimes parents/guardians need to ‘settle’ into the process more than little ones do – this is totally OK and totally normal! You are entrusting your tamaiti to someone else, and going through a huge change yourself.
You will have emotions too:
You might feel relieved, you might feel ecstatic, you might feel guilty, you might feel resentful, you might feel apprehensive, you might feel jealous – all of this is normal and perfectly OK. This is a big change in your daily relationship with your little one and of course this is going to come with big emotions!
Partners, family and friends:
Be honest with your loved ones about how you are finding the process – if you were the primary caregiver at home this process might feel might harder for you, talk to one another and support each other in this process.
Be kind to yourself:
Give yourself patience and aroha during this time – it is a big change for you both.
If your little one is struggling with this process:
Talk to your kaiako and support network. Chat to the teaching team about how you can support your child through this journey of getting to know somewhere new. If your child has not spent much time with other people this will be a big change for them! Time, patience, and support are crucial to helping your little one through this change. Your teaching team are experienced with exactly this and will support you both to ensure your little one is safe and happy!
If your little one runs off and is good to go from day one:
This might feel great! You might be super relieved that they are happy and ready to enjoy their new environment! A part of you might also feel a bit sad that they are so ready for this big next step. Both of these feelings (and everything in between) are normal and valid!
Support for you:
Talk to your friends who have gone through the same process or talk to a parent whose child also attends the centre, talking to another adult about similar experiences often helps!
Patience if you’re finding it hard:
Give it time and give it a real go. Children need time to settle and adjust. Coming in and out of spaces can be more unsettling. If part of your puku is still slightly unsure, try to unpick why. Is it about the centre itself, or is it about your readiness to be away from little one? These are all valid feelings but try to be confident with your child as your apprehension can be felt by them too. Talk to your kaiako to support you through this if you are finding it hard.
When you say goodbye, go:
Wait until you are ready to say goodbye each morning, but when you do, do it calmly and lovingly and confidently. It can be really confusing for little ones if parents are toing and froing. Let a kaiako know if you are finding this part hard and they can support you through it. You can call in to check later or ask them to send you an update later in the morning (depending on what works for the kaiako in our centre) and they can to let you know that your child is ok!
Be prepared that their home routine might look different in their centre environment – not only are they now with a group of other tamariki who also have care routines, but they will likely be so much busier and more stimulated with all the fun goings on with their new friends. Sleeps and kai might change – but trust your kaiako on this, your tamaiti will adapt and all their needs will be met.
Trust your kaiako:
Trust the process. Your kaiako are experienced and there to guide you. They want what’s best for both you and your little one. Let them support you through the process. If they suggest you stay or go, these suggestions are coming from tried and true experience.
Model trust in the kaiako to your child:
You know your child best, you’re their parent! But the kaiako have supported many children through this process before. Trust their suggestions and trust their guidance. For both you and your kaiako the end goal is the same seeing your tamaiti happy and confident in their new learning environment.
To all parents starting out on their ECE journey, you’ve got this, and it is going to be wonderful! And you’ve got a huge support whānau awaiting you at your new centre!
If you would like to find out more about the settling in process to Wellington Childcare, get in touch with us today
Glossary: whānau – family, tamaiti – child, kaiako –teacher, aroha – love, puku – belly, kai – food