Strategies to Welcome Young Children to Daycare
You have created a friendly setting for your daycare. It's filled with vibrant colors and exciting toys, and child-friendly songs are playing in the background. To you, it looks like a place where any child would feel comfortable; but to a young child who is just being introduced to the daycare setting, it may be a bit overwhelming and even frightening. Make the transition into daycare as easy as possible by employing strategies that welcome the kids and make them feel at home.
Young children are used to routines and are most comfortable when they are familiar with their surroundings. To make the transition to daycare go smoothly, arrange a welcome visit beforehand. Invite the child and her parents to come to the daycare before she is scheduled to attend regularly. Introduce yourself and allow her to explore the setting. Let her play with toys, encourage her to partake in an activity such as painting or a craft, and answer any questions that she may have. The more familiar and comfortable she is with the setting, the easier the transition process will be.
Start the child's first day right with friendly introductions. Welcome the newcomer by introducing him to his new friends and by introducing his new friends to him. Invite everyone to tell the newcomer their names and share something about themselves such as their favorite toys, favorite colors and what they like to do at daycare. It stands to reason that proper introductions will make the new child feel welcomed.
Buddy the newcomer up with a "veteran." Choose someone who is friendly, who plays well with others and who really understands the routine and the rules of your daycare. Making use of the buddy system will allow the newcomer to feel as if she has a go-to person to rely on and an immediate friend. Use the buddy system for a few days until the new child gets her bearings. Pairing her up with a new child each day will allow her to get to know her new friends, and it will allow her new friends to get to know her.
Include the Child
It is important that you, the daycare provider, make efforts to include the new child into the setting. Some children don't have the social skills or the confidence to include themselves in activities that others are enjoying. With such a child, it is important that you make sure to include him in activities. Ask him if he wants to join in, and ask others to include him in their games or activities. Sometimes all it takes is an adult to facilitate the inclusion process in order to make a new child feel welcomed in daycare.
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