Stress-Free Settling In

Stress-Free Settling In

Stress-free settling…sounds good doesn’t it? It may not be as unobtainable as you think it is. All you need to do is read on and follow my simple quick tips. I believe the biggest mistake teachers make…

I believe the biggest mistake teachers make when settling in a new child to their centre is to focus all their attention on that child. In my experience, it is more often the child’s parents/caregivers that are struggling with the transition to preschool much more so than the child and so a teacher’s attention during the settling process should reflect this. It is important for us to remember that they are handing over their child to strangers. We are not only strangers to them but also to their child and if this is their first child then they could be feeling overwhelmed and sometimes bewildered with what it means to be a parent! Put this together with the feelings of guilt and abandonment parents often feel when starting their child in early childhood care and education and we can see why parents are feeling anxious and needing reassurance and support.

For this reason, I believe the secret to ensuring a stress-free transition for a child, begins with a stress-free transition for the parents. The main reason parents will be starting their child at an early childhood centre is because they are returning to work. Often, they have had months or longer as the focal point for their child and spent wonderful days bonding, caring for and loving them. As this time draws to an end, they will probably be feeling apprehensive for how the change will affect their family and home life as well as worrying about their impending return to the ‘daily grind’. As a mother who returned to work six months ago, after having a year off with my first child, I can attest to every one of these feelings and more. Parents and families want to feel welcomed, listened to, supported, that their ideas are being acknowledged, that they are not being judged for their decisions and that you have a genuine interest in them and their child as people. Something as simple as a smile and greeting them by name can mean the world to a parent and one of our most important jobs is to ensure children and their families feel safe, secure and reassured that all their needs will be met.

Seven quick tips for settling families:

  • Give each parent, each day a smile, a greeting using their name and a question.
  • Allow new parents to spend as much time in the centre environment as they want. Be aware of the potential disruption another adult in the environment could cause. Help parents to feel secure enough to leave for short bursts of time.
  • Engage in conversation about topics other than their child when appropriate. Parents will always appreciate your interest in them as people, not just parents.
  • Give feed-back to parents consistently, honestly and as positive as possible.
  • Reassure parents that their child’s settling in time could be long or short and will get easier and easier every day for that child and for them. Be aware that sometimes children will appear settled and happy for the first one or two weeks and then once ‘the novelty has worn off’ they will begin to be upset and unsettled.
  • Be as warm, understanding, patient, nurturing, caring, knowledgeable and encouraging to new parents as you possibly can.
  • Remember that we, as teachers are responsible for creating a partnership with parents. The sooner this partnership is created, the better it is for the child, their whanau and the teaching team.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Check out our course – Settling and Transitions– via the Online Learning Hub.

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