Reducing anxiety and supporting your child’s enrolment journey in 2022

After spending over 100 days in lockdown during 2021, we completely understand that the thought of enrolling your little one into an Early Childhood centre may create feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for both you and your child, we want to reassure you that this is normal!

As Early Childhood Educators, we are known for being naturally warm, empathetic, and nurturing people – which is generally what attracted us to Early Childhood in the first place. This means we empathise with others very easily and often to go to vast lengths to support and look after those around us.

After experiencing the roller-coaster of a year that 2021 was, one thing we became experts on was, welcoming children and their families back to our centre after being away for some time, re-settling them into their “old but new” environment, all whilst experiencing a time of our lives where new cases of COVID-19 was and continues to be detected within nearby communities.

As Auckland moved through the different Alert Levels, our Early Childhood centre adapted by caring for children initially in bubbles of ten, then twenty. Once the ‘Traffic light system’ came into effect, under ‘Red Light’ we were able to welcome all our children back to the centre. As we adapted through COVID restrictions, our team had time to observe and learn many positive ways (old and new) to help children and families settle back into their ECE routine, after a very long time away. We won’t say that it was easy for everyone, but we wanted to share, in our experience, some helpful tips on what worked really well.

If you are a first-time parent looking at your 2022 childcare options or if you are considering enrolling your child at a new or different centre, we hope that learning about our “transition” tips will support you throughout your enrolment process and help to ease any anxiety that you or your child may be having about this new experience.

“Initiate positive conversations with your little one about their start date”

In the days leading up to your child’s start date, do your best to have positive conversations with your child about starting at their new centre. Hopefully you have had time to take part in some settling visits at the centre, if you have then we encourage you to talk to your child about the lovely teachers who you have met already, talk about what you both love about the centre and all of the fun that your child will get to have there soon. You may like to join our Storypark (Online Learning & Communication Portal) prior to starting and use this to stay up to date with any centre wide information or learning that may be occurring. Just ask your teacher and they will sign you up for free. Our community pages often have pictures or events shared that you could also use to show your child before starting.

If your child is under 2 years of age, having these conversations might not be so simple. We recommend doing your best to attend as many “settling visits” as possible. Ask the centre what their policy is around this and be sure to maximise this opportunity so your little one can become familiar with the voices and faces of the wonderful teachers who will be caring for them at the centre. The more you share about what works for you and your young baby, the more the teachers will ensure that they use this knowledge to best support your baby to settle.

“Involve your child in some decision making & preparation the night before”

Avoid any excess stress in the morning and the night before your child’s first day at their centre, this will help the first day to go smoothly. You can do this by involving your little one in some preparation for their first day back. This decision making will help them feel involved and will give them something to look forward to on that morning! Spend some time together the day before, picking out an outfit, packing their bag and discussing what they would like to have for breakfast the next day! Make sure to allow extra time in your morning to be able to do this in a fun, non-stressful way.

“Make drop offs warm and efficient, remember to mean what you say”

The thought of your first “morning drop off” can create feelings of anxiety for both children and parents. If you say goodbye, try your best to be confident and just say it once so that your child knows that you mean goodbye for the day. This doesn’t mean that you can’t spend some time at the centre, settling your child into their new space! But, by saying goodbye and then coming back over and over again can show your child that you are not confident and sure about your decision and create settling into a new learning experience hard for your child. By creating a drop off routine, saying goodbye at the end, assuring your child you’ll be back later and then sticking to it will, over time, make it easier and lessen any anxiety about not knowing whether you are staying or going.

“Something that reminds them of home”

Your child may need a small “reminder of home” if they are feeling anxious about spending a full day without you. Try drawing a love heart on their hand so if they are missing you, they can see the love heart throughout their day and know they will see you soon. If you have rituals at home that we can also offer to them, let us know! We could play their favourite song, read their favourite book or organise a fun activity that you have been doing together during lockdown. A transition object from home such as a cuddly blanket could be a great way to help them feel comforted if needed.

In addition to supporting our families with transition tips, our wonderful team of Teachers are committed to doing all that we can to make your and your child’s enrolment journey a positive one. If you would like to know more about our centre and spaces available in the New Year, get in touch with us! We would love to hear from you.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can support your child’s early learning journey, please get in touch.