Adjusting to a New Child Care Center:

The first day at a new child care center can be both exciting and fearful for children. Parents are often concerned about children adjusting comfortably to a new child care program. There are things that parents and caregivers can do to help with this adjustment.

It’s normal for the first days of school to be an anxious period of adjustment for many parents and children. Kids are often working through intense feelings of discomfort, shyness, and even fear. Parents, too, may struggle with their own feelings of separation anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, and disappointment. When things don’t go as smoothly as you hoped, try giving it some time.

  • Visit the child care center with your child before their first day to familiarize them with the environment.
  • Reassure your child that you can be contacted if needed and show them where to find the center’s telephone.
  • Encourage communication with the teachers and caregivers prior to each day.
  • Let your child become familiar with the places you may be while they are at the center to help them feel secure.
  • Acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings about the first day while remaining firm about leaving.
  • Provide something special for your child to look forward to at the end of the day.
  • Maintain a confident and positive attitude during drop-off, avoiding showing your own mixed feelings.
  • Stay in the classroom until both you and your child feel comfortable, then communicate your readiness to leave to the teacher.
  • Encourage your child to bring a small reminder of home, such as a family photo or a note from you.
  • Establish a morning routine and involve your child in dressing and organizing themselves.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime to support a regular schedule.
  • Utilize quiet times for conversations about preschool activities and address any concerns.
  • Share a calendar with your child to help them understand and anticipate daily routines.
  • Discuss pickup arrangements with your child, including when and who will pick them up.
  • Accompany your child to the classroom on the first day and show them important areas.
  • Request a progress report from the teacher at the end of the week to track your child’s adjustment.
  • Share your own stories about your first days of school to empathize and offer reassurance.
  • Observe and listen to your child’s play to gain insight into their feelings and concerns.
  • Allow for role-playing activities where your child can act out going to school and saying goodbyes.
  • Remember that every child develops at their own pace, and each parent’s experience is unique.