SETTLING YOUR CHILD INTO EARLY CHILDCARE
So how long does it take for my child to settle?
One of the most common questions teachers are asked of our new parents, families/whānau when children enrol at our centres is ‘how long will it take my child to settle in?’. The answer to that varies for every child, many children settle and respond to a new environment within a few weeks, however this looks different for all tamariki.
Some children, like my youngest child for example, take a few months to settle before they feel confident enough to say goodbye without getting upset during the leaving process.
Some children, like my oldest, wave and say goodbye on the first day without ever looking back and they continue to be like through their whole schooling experience.
Some children may take a few weeks to familiarise themselves with their environment, build relationships with kaiako and their peers, engage in routines and rituals, before they develop a sense of belonging and settle.
All of these examples of how tamariki settle are completely normal and I can tell you that eventually your child will settle with confidence. If we have concerns about this, we always engage in open communication with whānau to support and work with your child to review other strategies/alternatives.
How kaiako (teachers) help children and families/whānau to settle into the centre.
We always recommend that parents/family come in for 3 pre-visits before starting, which provides a good foundation for an effective transition. This is a great time to get to know your child’s teachers, environment, other children and for a parent induction to take place.
There are times when parents feel that they would like more visits and we are always open and flexible to do that as the settling process for tamariki and whānau can be the most worrisome and we want to acknowledge that we understand, and are committed to supporting a transition that is as smooth and effective as we can for everyone.
In collaboration with parents/families, our kaiako gain deep understandings about your child’s culture, identity and family background, as the more information that we learn about your child and family, the better we are able to plan for your child’s holistic learning and development. Wellbeing and a sense of belonging is central to your child’s settling into the centre, ensuring that the health of your child’s body, mind and soul (wairua) is nurtured and kaiako are responsive to the needs of your child.
Kaiako develop and build reciprocal relationships with your child (whanaungatanga). When a child builds trusting and sustained whanaungatanga with kaiako it provides them with more confidence to explore their environment. Kaiako encourage and support tamariki to engage and join in with their peers, and participate in the daily routines and rituals. Children have their own lockers (with their photo), which they learn and understand belongs to them. Whānau are asked to bring in a family photo so that they can display this within our room. These processes build and instil a sense of belonging for our tamariki and whānau, which in turn supports tamariki to settle and feel confident, loved and cared for. We recognise when children gain a sense of belonging, their whole wairua and confidence is empowered and a huge shift in learning and development naturally happens.
In what ways can you support your child’s transition into the centre
On your pre visits, get to know your child’s kaiako and explore the environment with your child.
Encourage your child to engage with their peers.
Participate with your child in the routines that are occurring – such as mat time or meal times.
Play and have fun together!
When you are at home, click into our website and show your child photos of their kaiako and learn their names together so he/she becomes familiar with their teachers. We have a teachers board at reception and our tamariki love pointing and saying the names of their teachers before they enter their room.
Talk positively/be excited about your child’s learning environment, talk about all the resources that they engaged with on their visits, the environment, people and experiences. (For example, I could see how much fun you had playing with the trains at your centre, you might want to have another play with them next time).
Bring in a family photo so that it can be proudly displayed in the room. Some tamariki love carrying around their whānau photos in the early days (for comfort), and a lot of times they show their teachers and peers their photos which helps to build connections with others.
You may want to bring a special teddy/blanket for your child’s nap time (so they have something familiar and brings comfort from home), or they may want to have their special something to hold during those settling times.
I know it can be hard when you are worried and may be feeling anxious about your child starting childcare but try not to show your anxiety when you are with your child (this can be hard, I know!). Children really do feel and pick up on your worries and this will make it harder for them to say goodbye when they know you are not confident.
When you say goodbye, it’s always good to explain to your child in simple terms that you are going to work/or you are going to do the grocery shopping, etc, and once you have finished for the day you/or someone else, will be coming back to pick up your child. Some children express anxiety, particularly if they have not attended childcare before, that you may not return, therefore reiterating that you will be back is extremely important for your child to hear. Your child’s kaiako will also reassure your child and support them to ensure that they know exactly what happens during the day.
Working in partnership (kaiako and parents/whānau) for a positive and effective transition
Our kaiako are very responsive and experienced in supporting tamariki and whānau in the settling process. We understand the fear and anxieties you may have when you leave your child, therefore we encourage an open door policy, where whānau feel welcome to contact us during the day or visit to catch up on how their child is doing, furthermore our teachers share photos and send messages to families throughout the day to update what is happening in your child’s day. We know that this really supports and helps families to have some insight as to what is happening during those early days.
The settling process can sometimes be worrisome for some tamariki and families, however you can help with this process in collaboration with your child’s kaiako to make it a fun and supportive experience, and remember there is no time limit on what is a normal time for your child to settle as every child is uniquely different.
Bachelors of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
Centre Manager at Our Kids Glendene & Mataki Way
Kim Bassett is a fully qualified and experienced early childhood teacher. She is passionate about supporting children’s holistic learning development through child-led and meaningful learning experiences; and promoting a learning environment that is responsive to the needs of all akōnga.