Starting your child at a dayhome can be a big adjustment for everyone. It can be a stressful time for not only you, as a parent, but also for your child. The best way to help prepare your child for a successful dayhome start is to begin introducing him or her to the routines that can be expected in the dayhome.
During a typical 8 hour day, there will be three meal times — morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack. These meals will be provided in a designated eating area and your child will sit properly in their [booster/high] chair to the best of their ability. This means no running around, standing on the chair or eating in other areas of the home. The same, nutritious meal will be offered to everyone. This means that, if your child doesn’t want to eat the snack given, there will be no other option for that meal. Meals are a good opportunity to have a break from play and visit with one another but they aren’t a time to play with toys at the table, throw food or shout out. The children, that are able, bring their dishes to the sink area after they are finished.
Sleeping and Quiet Time
Most children dayhome age need either a nap (or two) or a rest period of some form. The children that nap will have a quiet, peaceful area where they will lay down at approximately the same time each day. Babies and young children will be laid down, in bed, with comfort items and perhaps some soft music playing. As many dayhomes have up to 6 to 8 children a day to lay down at naptime, there simply isn’t always the opportunity to rock or cuddle a child to sleep. It will help your child greatly if they are able to put themselves to sleep at nap time.
Older children that no longer nap in the afternoons will still have a period of rest. This may be a half hour lay down, quiet activities, like puzzles or books, or a movie. It’s important that young children have the chance to rest their bodies and their minds. It also gives your dayhome provider the opportunity to tidy up from lunch and prepare for afternoon activities.
Potty and Diapers
If your child is still in diapers, the routine from home to dayhome is likely very similar. Just remember to let your provider know if you regularly use a specific diaper cream, baby powder, etc. If you are using cloth diapers*, definitely let your dayhome provider know the procedure to follow with soiled diapers.
For potty training children, routine is everything. The key to success is to have the same training process at home and while at the dayhome. If you are taking your child to the bathroom every 20 minutes, make sure your provider knows this. If you are using the sticker chart program, bring extra stickers and charts to dayhome. Make sure that your dayhome provider is on board with potty training. Some find it to be too much to focus on one potty trainer while 5 other littles are requiring supervision and attention. My personal method of Potty Training can be found here. Of course, you could always attempt the Potty Training in One Day method on a day your child is not at dayhome!
If your child is coming to the dayhome potty trained, they will be shown where all the bathrooms are in the home and told to ask for help if they need it. However, as children are often shy during the first little while at the dayhome, please let your provider know if your child needs help with their toilet routine (wiping, washing, etc). By the time a child is around age 4, they should be independent with their toilet routine.
A dayhome houses a multitude of personalities and each time the group changes, there is somewhat of an adjustment period. Each child needs time to learn that they have a safe, valued place in the home. However, all children are expected to treat one another, and the provider, with respect at all times. This means sharing to the extent that their age allows, no use of violence and no hurtful words.
In our dayhome specifically, we always try to make use of our manners. “Please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” are phrases that are required in our home and even the infants are taught to sign them before they can say them. We believe that it is just another way to show respect to one another.
Children will be shown where toys, books and other play items are kept. They will put away the things they are done with and help at “clean up time”.
Developmental Level Expectations
Of course, every child develops at his or her own rate. However, there are common growth milestones that, barring any known delays, a child of a certain age would be expected to achieve. For example, one would expect that a 16 month old can crawl across the room or that a 3 year old can put on simple clothing alone.
Your dayhome provider knows what development stages children are commonly reaching and, unless you express differently, will expect that your child has reached them.
Literature on growth and development stages can be found at your local Community Health Centre or at MyHealth.Alberta.ca. If you have any questions concerning your child’s healthy growth and development, please contact your community health nurse.
Each dayhome will do things differently so your best bet is to ask your provider, during the interview process, what their daily routine looks like.
*Note that not all dayhome providers are willing to accept clients who are cloth diapering. If you cloth diaper, be sure to discuss this during the interview.