Entering a new child care center can feel a bit overwhelming for a young child. Whether they’ve never been away from home before or they’re transitioning from another child care facility, they’ll be experiencing a whole host of adjustments. Even moving from one classroom within the same child care center to another can cause some anxiety for children who naturally like following a familiar routine. Here are some helpful tips for helping a child experience a smooth transition into your child care program.
Make Sure You’re Ready for the New Child’s Arrival
Sending welcoming signals to the child on their first day in your classroom will go a long way toward helping that child to feel comfortable. You can do this by preparing in advance to make them feel a part of the class. For example, if the other students have cubbies or other designated areas to keep their belongings, get one ready for the new student. Putting up a label with the child’s name will help them to recognize their cubby, as well as let them and their parents know that you’ve been expecting them to join you. The same holds true for every area of the classroom where student’s names are displayed, such as a Birthday bulletin board or helper chart. Have a mat prepared for the new child for rest time. These seemingly insignificant details actually make a huge difference in helping the new child to feel like a part of the class.
Get the Class Involved in Welcoming the New Student
If you have enough advance notice, talk to the other students about the arrival of a new classmate. Help them to get excited about having a new friend in class. You may even want them to color and decorate a welcome sign or create some “welcome to our class” pictures for the new student. The new child and their parents will appreciate seeing how you’ve gone above and beyond to make their first day in your class special.
Approach the Child with a Welcoming Attitude
Go out of your way to make sure you approach the new child with a gentle voice and demeanor. It’s very likely they will feel somewhat intimidated or even scared at the prospect of entering a brand new classroom. You want to do all you personally can to alleviate those fears. The first impression you make on both the child and parents will be critical in laying the right foundation for a positive relationship.
Your willingness to go the extra mile can help make transitioning to a new child care center or classroom a much better experience for your new students. Preparing your classroom for their arrival, getting the class involved in making them feel welcome, and setting the right tone with a warm, friendly approach are all great ways to start off on the right foot. In our next article in this series, we’ll look at even more ways you can help new students feel welcome at your child care center.