Whether your little one launches into child care without looking back or struggles with separation anxiety at drop-off time, it's important to support them as they grow and develop in the child care environment.
To do this, here's how you can get involved and provide encouragement for your early learner.
1. Take the time to communicate and connect with educators
You might be on a tight schedule with drop-offs and pick-ups but making the effort to maintain a good relationship with your child's educators and centre director pays dividends.
As well as a simple, "Hello" and "Goodbye", this means:
- Sharing your child's interests and abilities with staff and seeing how these can be included in their day
- Asking educators about your child's progress compared with developmental milestones
- Working with educators to strengthen your child's learning and developmental opportunities - not just at child care, but at home too
- Telling them about any particular family or cultural values you'd like included and respected
- Sharing news about what's happened at home and affected your child, e.g. they're tired after a late night, jealous about a new baby, excited about their grandparents visiting or missing Dad while he's away on business
- Sharing special treasures or photos from home, e.g. a holiday snap to help educators learn about your family and spark learning and discussion
- Advising the service about any days your child will be absent, whether they're sudden sick days or well-planned holidays
- Discussing your child's transition to a different room when the time comes (especially if your youngster is worried about this)
Overall, two-way communication is important and so is relationship-building.
2. Take an interest in child care service news and events
As well as focusing on your child’s experience at the service, there is much to be gained from showing an interest in the service itself.
Keep up-to-date with news, activities and events by reading mail-outs and other information provided by your service. Learn how the service is run, attend parent evenings and, if possible, put up your hand to volunteer or contribute as needed, e.g. by sharing your time, skills and knowledge.
Your child will love this active involvement, and it's a great way to be part of a special community.
3. Take an interest in your child's experiences
There is so much to see, do and learn at child care, and parents play an important role in supporting this growth and sharing in it.
Take a genuine interest in your child's thoughts, experiences, social circles and achievements by:
- Asking your child about their day, e.g. what they did and how they feel
- Looking at their child care portfolio and appreciating their work samples, photos and learning stories
- Displaying or using their child care creations at home, e.g. sticking up their handprint art and treasuring that handmade bookmark
- Getting to know their child care friends and families, i.e. by chatting to other parents at drop-off/pick-up and arranging play dates outside child care hours
- Taking an interest in their early learning and helping them connect their home learning with their child care learning. As well as playing, talking, reading, drawing and counting at home, you can use any particular strategies/activities suggested by their educator
At the end of the day, it's both interesting and important to support your child in these ways. Child care contributes greatly to their learning and development, so get on board and join them on this journey of discovery and growth.