What to expect on your first day of childcare?

As parents, we often feel guilty when the time comes to send our children to childcare. There are many reasons why we send them to childcare: we have to start work again, we want them to make friends, or we want them to be prepared for school. The first day can even be more nerve-wracking for parents than we care to admit, as we are hopeful that the transition to childcare will be smooth and easy for our children.

At Child’s Play ELC we want you to feel entirely comfortable sending your child to one of our centres, which is why we have an extensive transition process that includes a tour, orientation sessions and consultations with the room leader before your first day.

The start of the year can always be a busy time, so here’s what to expect on the first day of childcare.

When to turn up

Childcare is part of a new routine which will take some time to adjust to. Be sure to set alarms and reminders on your phone so you have plenty of time to get ready in the morning. It is best practice to try and always be early to childcare so you have plenty of time to say goodbye. Arriving early on your first day means there’s heaps of time to settle them into childcare and ensure they know what’s happening so they won’t be distressed when you go to leave. Another helpful hint is to schedule your orientations around this drop-off time so it is a gradual change to your child’s routine instead of a complete shock. On your first day when you arrive at Child’s Play ELC, our educators will help sign you in and settle your child before you need to leave.

Pack everything the night before


This tip has come from our community of parents. Pack everything the night before so you are not as stressed that very first morning. In particular, create a list of everything you will need with your childcare educators during orientation and check it off with your child before bedtime the day before.

If your child is going into kindergarten, get them to pick out a special “childcare” backpack and let them pack everything with you. This will give them some sense of responsibility and help reduce tears on the first day. Having a special bag will also help create a routine where they mentally check off everything in their bag before leaving for kindergarten each day.

Ask for our leaders

On the first day of childcare, the last thing you want is for your child to be scared of everyone. During orientation, you will get to know our centre’s staff and in particular our centre managers. They will help you transition into childcare on your first day and guide you to your child’s room. They will also present themselves to your child as another friendly, receptive adult that they can look for during the day which will help your child feel at ease in this new environment. It is important to us that we build a relationship with our parents so that we can maintain communication with our families and get to know the child a little better.

Set realistic expectations

As parents, we all want the first day to go off without a hitch but the likelihood of that is pretty slim, it is normal for both you and your child to be feeling anxious about this process. It’s why we recommend orientation sessions and having conversations about childcare with your child before they start at Child’s Play ELC. It is important to remember that it might take your child a few days to settle in, so continue to remind them why child care is fun and exciting for them, and maybe how much you wish you could go to child care instead of work. Regression is normal within the first few weeks of being at childcare and it will return to normal as they get more comfortable.

Be realistic with your children and validate their feelings of nerves because this will help them become more comfortable at Child’s Play ELC. Acknowledging these feelings instead of dismissing them, it will also prevent further development issues.

Saying goodbye

At Child’s Play ELC, we can’t stress this enough – it is extremely important to say goodbye to your child every day and not just sneak off once they are having fun. By saying goodbye, it reduces the likelihood of anxious attachments and helps them understand what is going on. One of the best ways to start the goodbye routine is when you first get to childcare, have a conversation about what their day is going to look like and what they might be doing. It can even be a good idea to include the room leader in these conversations to help your child familiarise this environment with another friendly face.

It’s also important to set aside time for goodbyes because you may feel upset or like you’re doing the wrong thing. This is ok and every parent can tell you it’s normal. By saying goodbye you are not only helping your child adjust to the new routine but also helping yourself adjust. If you need some added tips when saying goodbye check out our blog on what to bring to childcare and take some time to look after yourself.

Be consistent

Consistency is key to any change in the routine. It’s important to create this consistency from day one to reduce anxious feelings and help your child transition smoothly. One of the ways you can be consistent is by always being there at a ‘regular’ pick up time  (e.g. before afternoon tea or after late snack) and dropping your child off at a similar time each morning. Other ways you can be consistent include maintaining your bedtime routine and planning extra bonding time with your child at home after childcare so they don’t miss their favourite playmate.

How Child’s Play will help you prepare for your first day

At Child’s Play ELC, we help you every step of the way when starting childcare and the first day is no different. It can be the hardest day for both the child and the parent because it is a big change in your life. Our educators will be here to help and make sure your child has an amazing first day. If you are considering sending your child to childcare, fill out the enquiry form and get in touch with our centres to see if we are the right fit for your child.