What to Expect on The First Day of Professional Child Care
Before the First Day: Preparation Minimizes Separation Anxiety
Before your child begins his first day of day care or preschool at Smithfield Learning Center, we strongly recommend the following helpful tips to help ease the transition for both you and your child. It is helpful to know what to expect on the first day of professional child care and prepare your child in advance for this big step in his life before the first day of day care or preschool arrives.
Review the schedule with your child to let him know what to expect ahead of time. We offer professional child care and educational services. However, a small bit of preparation from you can make a big difference for your child’s first impression that will carry with him throughout his time spent with us. Separation anxiety can be a very frightening experience for our young guests. However, we have significant experience helping our children get past their unfounded fears, minimize anxiety, and enjoy their time with our friendly and nurturing caregivers and teachers.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Prepare your child for what to expect. We recommend repeating the information about what to expect often and reassuring him that he will be safe. Let him know that you will be back to pick him up at the end of the day, every day, and that you will be thinking about him. A helpful tool for both of you during this transition period may be the classic children’s book, The Kissing Hand. Emphasize the fun that will be had at the Smithfield Learning Center.
Be Strong: Exhibit Confidence to Minimize Stress & Anxiety
Ensure that everyone gets plenty of rest and good nutrition in the days leading up to the transition. This will be a bit of a stressful transition for everyone and it is important to be as strong mentally and physically as possible. Show your child that you are confident in making this transition. Any stress or anxiety that you exhibit will transfer to your child. Ensure that everyone goes to sleep extra early and gets up extra early for at least a few days before the first day to ensure that there is no morning rush which could potentially increase the stress level.
Contact the Smithfield Learning Center to schedule a day when you and your child can come together to the Center to explore together. Be sure to allow your child some freedom to explore and get comfortable with his new environment and his new caregivers. You may want to consider making a special purchase for your child such as a backpack, shoes, or a special clothing item that you allow your child to choose. If you emphasize that the item is special and for “big boys” (or girls), this will help your child feel good about the transition, as well. Ensure that your employer is aware of the transition that is occurring and that your schedule will require flexibility during the daycare transition period.
The First Day: Take Your Time & Provide Support
On the first day, it is very important that everyone be well rested and have plenty of time to leisurely accomplish all of the necessary morning tasks such as breakfast, dressing, gathering supplies, and leaving with a positive attitude. Do not rush. Take your time and be present in the moment with your child to provide support.
Most children will find it helpful to bring something comforting from home that they can keep nearby to help make the transition more of a continuum than a drastic change. A small toy, family photo, or other comfort items that your child can keep in his cubby can be a great consolation for the inevitable days when your child is feeling a little homesick or under the weather.
Keep Goodbyes Short & Sweet
Plan to allow a few minutes to say goodbye to your child. Your child will probably want to walk around with you and discuss what he sees. Keep it positive, short, and sweet. Alert your child that you will be leaving in five minutes and ask him if there is anything else that he wants to show you or tell you about. Give him a hug or kiss goodbye and remind him that you will be back to pick him up in a few hours.
A regular routine can significantly help your child with his transition. A simple basic routine such as listening to the same music in the morning, parking in the same area, entering through the same door, helping him put his stuff away, showing the same level of affection, and leaving him with a fun and upbeat comment such as “Give a Hug, Ladybug,” “Better Shake, Rattlesnake,” “Bye Bye Butterfly,” or some other fun statement will start the day off with a positive note and leave him feeling loved and cared for. If your child is visibly upset, remain cool and confident even if you feel the same. It is your job to reassure your child and let him know that everything will be ok. You have done your homework and know that Smithfield Learning Center is the best choice for your child. Give him a kiss and hug and don’t come back until the end of the day. Your child may cry, but this will give him an opportunity to be comforted by and bond with his new caregiver. This is a good thing. Your child will be spending a significant part of his daily life with us and we need him to know that he can trust us to care for him and be comfortable with us. Take yourself out for a treat. Enjoy a special meal or drink. Relax and appreciate the new step that is occurring in your life and the life of your child.
The End of the Day: You Made It!
Congratulations! You both made it through the first day! At the end of the day, make sure that you arrive on time, preferably a few minutes early. It is vital that you keep your promise to your child that you will return on time at the end of the day, every day. You do not want your child to be sitting around worrying and wondering about where you are after all of the other childrens’ parents have picked them up and left. Ensure that you allow a few minutes for your child to walk around with you and discuss what happened during the day, especially for the first week or two. Alert him five minutes before it’s time to go. A little pat on the back or a tickle under the neck can signal that it’s time to wrap it up. Sing a fun song or play a counting game on the way to the car.
On the way home, it can be helpful to play the same music that you played on the way to the Center to help the transition back to home. Let your child know what he can look forward to when he gets home (what’s for supper, if grandma will be visiting, the book you will read after bath time, etc.). Be sure to plan extra bonding time with your child for at least the first few weeks. It is just as important for you as it is for your child. Be sure to validate your child’s feelings. Let him know that it is normal to feel anxious or scared in a new situation, but reassure him that he is safe and secure.
You have made the right decision to select the Smithfield Learning Center for your child’s daycare or preschool needs. You and your child will get through the process fine and there will be a lot of fun times in the future. We look forward to getting to know you and your child. Contact the Smithfield Learning Center at: (724) 569-0824 with any questions that you may have or to make arrangements to secure a spot for your child at our center.
Vital Forms to Ensure Your Child’s Health & Safety
Please print and fill out all of the vital PDF forms below to help ensure your child’s continued health and safety while at our center. Please return the forms to the Smithfield Learning Center to begin the application process. Please note that there are two different packages of forms:
Packet “A” must be completed to apply for our Infant & Toddler Child Care Service.
Packet “B” must be completed to apply for our Preschool and Pre-K Classes.
Please note that payments are due by the Friday before the service for the following week. A late fee of $15.00 per each 15 minutes applies. Please contact us or stop by if you do not have access to a printer and we will provide you with copies of all of the relevant forms. Return completed forms with your appropriate registration and other fees as applicable (see below) to:
Smithfield Learning Center
Infant & Toddler Day Care Application Forms (Packet A)
Please fill out the following 17 pages in their entirety and return to Smithfield Learning Center along with your $25.00 registration fee to apply for our Infant & Toddler Day Care Program:
Preschool and Pre K Application Forms (Packet B)
Please fill out the following 17 pages in their entirety and return to Smithfield Learning Center along with your $25.00 registration fee, first $15.00 per month curriculum fee (due monthly on the 1st of each month), and book fee of $25.00 per year to apply for our Infant & Toddler Day Care Program:
Employment Application Form
Please print and fill out the entire employment application form: