Getting to know your students is one of your primary responsibilities as a child care worker. In the case of new students, it can mean the difference between a positive or negative experience at your facility. In this final article on making new kids feel comfortable entering your child care center (see Parts 1 & 2 for the rest of the series), we’ll focus on how you can get to know your new students as well as possible.
Become Familiar With the New Child’s Developmental Profile
Responsible child care centers typically give parents some sort of profile paperwork to fill out regarding their child. They may also have a file from a previous child care facility that you can obtain legally with a release form. These informative papers are a gold mine for you when it comes to finding out important information about your new student. For example, they’ll let you know about special medical needs, former child care experiences, and family situations.
Assign a Buddy to Help the New Child
Choose one of your most polite, well-behaved students for the special task of being the new kid’s “buddy.” This buddy can remind the student of classroom guidelines and procedures, as well as help them get to know the other students during playtime.
Keep Lines of Communication With Parents Open
The first few days are likely to be a bit jarring for the new student as well as their parents. Giving the parents a quick call sometime during the first day is a great way to reassure them. They may not want to interrupt class time to contact you, so having you make the effort to reach out to them could really mean a lot to them. Encourage them to contact you if they have any kind of questions or concerns. You can also write out an assessment of how the first day and week went to help keep your new student’s parents informed. If you have permission to photograph the child, you could send the parents a positive picture of their child engaging in one of their favorite activities.
Get Children Already in Your Child Care Center Ready for Transition Times
Moving up to a new classroom based on age or developmental level is a common experience for children in child care centers. If you have an individual child or class full of children who are getting ready to make this transition, get them ready for it in advance. Let them and their parents have an opportunity to meet and get to know their new teacher. They could even have a classroom tour scheduled so they’ll feel more comfortable making the switch when the day for class advancement arrives. Always inform parents in advance about any visit a child will be making to a new classroom.
Be Understanding When Dealing With Those Who Struggle With Transition Times
Whether it’s a brand new student or a student who is moving to a new classroom, recognize that not every student is going to take the transition well even when you follow all the previous tips we’ve mentioned in these articles. It’s not because you’re necessarily doing anything wrong. It’s just because change is hard, especially for young children who sometimes lack the emotional, social, and mental maturity to be able to process what’s going on. The best thing you can do is be there for them. Offer them an encouraging smile, a listening ear, and a compassionate heart. Even if they can’t express it with words, they’ll likely appreciate your concern for their well-being during this challenging time. Also, be sure to help other students remember to include the newcomer in classroom playtime and group activities.
As a child care center teacher or director, you want each and every student to feel welcomed and accepted in your classroom. You also desire for their families to feel at ease. Following these steps should help to make a new child’s first few days in your child care center or classroom a positive experience for both the child and their family.