Tips for settling your child at childcare or preschool

Starting childcare or preschool can be nerve wracking - both for children and for families.

Raising Children Network has these valuable tips for making the goodbye a little easier!


Saying goodbye:

Here are some ideas to make it easier for you and your child to say goodbye at child care:

  • Give your child a few minutes warning before you leave. For example, ‘After we finish this story I’m going off to my work’.

  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings, give your child words to express their feelings, and comfort your child. For example, ‘I know you feel sad. It’s hard to say goodbye. Here’s a kiss that will last all day’.

  • Talk about an activity you and your child will do together when you get home or when you come to pick up your child, like playing in the garden or reading a story.

  • Have a goodbye routine, like 3 kisses and a bear hug, high-fives, signing and saying ‘I love you’, or some other special thing that’s meaningful to your child.

  • Let your child know that you or another familiar grown-up will be back for pick-up at a particular time, or after an event that your child understands, like sleep or snack time.

  • Keep your goodbyes brief. This makes it easier for your child to settle with their educators. It’s a good idea to make sure the educator is nearby to comfort your child when you go.

  • Try to stay positive, both when you say goodbye and at home. Otherwise your child might pick up on your anxious feelings and feel more worried or unsafe.

Always say goodbye, even if your child looks busy and happy when it’s time for you to leave. Leaving without a goodbye can make children more upset when they realise you’ve gone. It’s best to let your child know you’re going and say that you’ll be back later.


Building your child’s relationships with educators

Children feel safe with people they know well and trust. So one of the best things you can do is help your child build trusting relationships with educators. Here are some ideas:

  • Show your child that you trust the educators. For example, let your child see you talking comfortably with them.

  • Talk to your child about the educators in the same way you talk about friends of your family. Say positive things and use the educators’ names.

  • Ask your child to draw a picture for their educator when they’re at home so they can give it to the educator.

  • Display photos of the educators at home, and give the service photos of you so they can talk about you with your child. Or you could put photos in a book for your child. This helps your child make a connection between home and child care.