Once you've chosen the childcare you want, it is important to start planning how you will settle your child into the new routine. You will also want the chance to get to know your chosen carer.
Leaving your child with a carer is a big step for both of you. It will take time to adjust, but here's how you can help to get through the jitters and feel more relaxed.
Visit the childcare facilities
Visit the new childcare facilities or home carer at least twice with your child. Before you go back to work, leave your child for 30 minutes while you stay in the background; later try 30 minutes while you walk round the block. Build up to an hour.
Take the time that you and your child need. Don't rush. If you are under pressure to get back to work or training, ask another family member or a friend to help with settling them in.
Another option: try starting your care on a Wednesday so they don't have to start with a full week.
Let the carer take charge
Try to let the carer take charge and help your child so they get used to the face, the voice and the security.
Prepare your child by talking
Prepare toddlers and older children for what to expect. Talk to them about where they will be going each day and the sort of things they will do.
Until your child feels comfortable, get there with at least five minutes to spare. If you are rushed and anxious this may unsettle them. Give them enough time to settle into an activity.
Use a comforter
Think about packing something that your baby or toddler is attached to or will recognise from home, e.g. a favourite toy or blanket.
Don't be sad or look upset when you leave your child - they'll pick up on your mood. Keep it upbeat when you meet with the carer ("Look who's here!"), always say goodbye rather than slip away (but don't linger). Be sure to remind toddlers you'll be back at a particular time.
If your child will be taken to and from school by a childminder you may wish to walk with them a couple of times. This will also give you an opportunity to introduce the childminder to your child's class teacher.
6 things you can do to monitor your child's care:
- Talk to your childcarer every day. She or he needs to know what's happening at home that might affect your child's needs during the day. You may also need to know how your child's day went - what they ate, how well they slept etc. Ask your carer to keep an activity diary (sometimes known as a 'My Day' sheet) outlining the day.
- Keep saying what you expect from the carer. Although certain requirements will have been agreed from the outset, new concerns will inevitably come up.
- Look out for changes in your child's behaviour or mood. If they can talk, ask questions (what they have eaten, slept, done?). It's good to know the names of the children and parents to know who they're talking about/ playing with early on.
- Make occasional unexpected visits to the childcare centre or childminder's home, or arrive early to see what's happening. Talk to other parents and neighbours.
- Ask to see a copy of the latest OfSTED inspection report every year for the service you are using. Or log on to www.ofsted.gov.uk to view it online.
- Book time two months or so in to a new arrangement to discuss your child's progress/ improvements/issues together.
For a printed version of this leaflet please contact FiND.