Every child approaches the idea of daycare differently. Some children run from your arms on the first day, and they can't wait to play with the new toys and make new friends. Others are very quiet and apprehensive, and they struggle to adapt to the more social atmosphere of daycare. If your child falls into the latter group, you may worry that daycare is not a good experience for them. But the truth is, it can be if you take the time to ease them into the routine of daycare rather than presenting this new change all of the sudden.
Here are three ideas for easing your quiet child into daycare.
Start a few hours at a time.
Eventually, your goal may be to leave your child at daycare for about 8 hours a day while you're at work. But it's best to start bringing them to daycare before you really have to leave them all day. The first day or two, just leave them for an hour, and then come back and pick them up. This gives them a small taste of what daycare is like without pushing them too hard. It also reassures them that when you leave them, you will be coming back. After a few 1 or 2-hour visits, you can leave your child for half days. Then, start leaving them for full days, but perhaps not several days in a row quite yet. Work your way up to leaving them for 8 hours, 5 days a week, over a period of a month or so.
Introduce them to a few friends, first.
Being submerged into a room of children and caretakers in which they know absolutely nobody will be overwhelming. If your child knows at least one or two of the other kids, it will be easier for them to adapt. So, attend a child care center open house or similar activity and meet some of the parents before you enroll your child. Set up a few play dates with some of the children whose parents are willing. When your child then goes to daycare, they will at least be familiar with some of the children.
Watch books and movies about daycare.
Start getting your child used to the idea of daycare before you drop him or her off. Watch movies and videos about daycare and read some books about the experience together. This will help your child know what to expect and will also help them realize that many children go to daycare -- this is not something you are doing to scare or hurt them.