Category Archives: Types of Daycare

Summer Safety at Daycare and Home

sun-shine-daycare-childSummer is here and it’s an important time to make sure your daycare is following summer safety recommendations with your children. Even if a trip outside is supposed to be short, it’s best to make sure they always apply sun block, sunglasses, and wear hats when they are out in the sun. Granted, we should be protecting our children’s skin and eyes year round, but in the summer it’s especially important. We are all more likely to be outside, enjoying the nice warm weather!

When talking to your daycare provider, bring up sun and outdoor safety and make sure they are following good, healthy practices to ensure the safety of your children.

If you think your daycare provider may be touchy about you “questioning” them, you can try one of these questions to lead into a conversation about summer safety, and if there is anything you can do to help.

  • “Do you want me to bring in sun block or are you providing that for the children?”
  • “Would you mind if I left an extra set of sun glasses here for outside time?”
  • “I have a hat that my child just loves. Can we keep in in their cubby for outside time?”
  • “How long do the kids play outside on days like this? Do I need to apply sunscreen at home or do you do that before they go out and play?

These are just a few examples of how you can get into a conversation about sun safety with your daycare provider.

The first and most important thing that all parents and daycare providers need to know is the Heat Index. This is what the relative heat feels like when you take into consideration both the actual temperature and the relative humidity. Both of these factors play a crucial role in what effects the weather will have on your children.

Below is a Heat Index chart showing both the temperature and humidity and the areas of danger you should be aware of.

  • Green – Caution should be taken and you should keep an eye on signs that the children are showing signs of heat exposure.
  • Yellow – Limit time outside in the heat. Water should be provided. Remain in the shade when possible and keep outside play time in this temperature under 30 minutes.
  • Red – You should not be out in these temperatures unless you have to be. In times of extreme heat, children should stay indoors where it is cool. In these temperatures, you cannot keep them cool enough to stave off the effects of heat.
daycare-playtime-heat-index
Stay safe in the summer with this daycare heat index chart.

 

Health Effects of Heat Exposure

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that may occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have developed dehydration, which is an inadequate or imbalanced replacement of the fluids and electrolytes you’ve lost through excessive perspiration.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Pale Skin
  • Rapid Heartbeat

Heat Stroke

Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and the body temperature continues to rise, often to 105°F or higher. This can happen in extreme temperatures because the body loses its ability to cool itself off. This is extremely dangerous and can cause brain damage as well as organ damage. It is very important for everyone to stay out of extreme temperatures due to this reason.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

It is important to note that anyone showing signs of heat stroke should be seen by a medical professional. Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency.

  • Convulsions
  • Unconsciousness
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Temperature over 104 degrees
  • Fast heart rate while resting.
  • Either heavy sweating or no sweating.
  • Skin that is red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea.

How to Stay Cool and Safe

Summer is a fun time and we all want to spend as much time outside as we can. It is important that we are being safe in the heat and even more important to ensure that your childcare provider is practicing healthy practices. To avoid problems, it’s best to keep trips outside to 30 minutes or less. This limits the children’s exposure to the sun and heat but gives them plenty of time to play and have fun. Make sure that water is available to them while they are playing. When the time is up and all the children come inside, they should drink a glass of water or two as soon as they get in. This is a great time to have them sit down for a snack and some water. Avoid giving them juice, pop or other drinks besides water.

If your child goes anywhere in a car or daycare van during the day (for instance, on field trips or to pick up other children), make sure the daycare provider has a procedure in place to make sure a child is not left in a car when an adult is not there. When the group gets to their destination, and when they return to the home or daycare center, make sure that an adult ALWAYS checks the car, van, or bus to make sure all the children are safely out of the car. It is easier than people imagine to accidentally forget a child in a car, and in the hot summer months, this can be a death sentence in as little as fifteen minutes. Ask that your provider never leave the children unattended in the car.

Whether you have a nanny, in home daycare provider, or drop your children off at a large daycare center, it is important, and it is your responsibility, to make sure they are keeping the safety of your children in mind in these hot summer months. It can be dangerous to assume that they know all of the best practices or that they follow the same guidelines you do as a parent.

Ensuring that your daycare provider follows good hot weather habits also makes it much more likely that your children will pick up on these good habits and carry them for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, you will be helping them to avoid so many problems that can arise from unhealthy and even dangerous habits in the heat.

Have a great summer!

 

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Winter Playtime at Day Care

snow-at-daycareTime spent playing outdoors is very important for children of all ages. However, during extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter, it can be unhealthy and possibly dangerous to send children to play outside. Here at www.decideondaycare.com, you’ll get some helpful parenting advise to make sure your child is safe and healthy.

It’s a good idea to check your daycare provider’s handbook regarding when a child goes outside to play, and what gear they need in order to be allowed to go outside. If this information isn’t in the handbook, you might want to talk it over with your daycare provider. Be sure to be clear with a babysitter or nanny. Oftentimes they may have different opinions and you want to make sure your expectations are clear.

Cabela's Kids' Waterproof Fleece Mittens
Cabela's Kids' Waterproof Fleece Mittens

As a general rule of thumb, it’s OK for children play outside when the temperature is anywhere above freezing, and below the early nineties. However, the temperature should not be your only consideration, especially when it’s cold outside. You need to know if the wind is blowing, if it is overcast or sunny, and what the forecast is for the day. When kids are outside playing in cold weather, it’s important to be ready to pull the kids inside immediately should the weather turn for the worse.

Even if the temperature is above freezing, you need to consider the wind chill and humidity. These factors can affect your child and make it seem much colder outside. It’s so quick now to check a news or weather website. A widget on your PC, laptop, and phone make it easy to keep track of the weather. These will give you information on temperature and possibly even wind speed. However most of them do not show the wind chill, so use the table below as a quick and handy guide to figure out if it’s OK for your children to be outside.

cold-temp-chart

Make sure they wear the proper clothes for the weather, at any time of year. You need to give your daycare provider extra gloves, a hat, and an extra set of clothes (including socks and possibly shoes). If you have an extra coat, and your day care provider has the room, you might even provide an extra coat for your child. You might want to toss a bag with an extra set of clothes for your child in your car so you are always prepared.

White Sierra Kids' Bilko Pants
White Sierra Kids' Bilko Pants

Keep in mind that children often don’t understand the dangers of cold and windy weather. Kid just want to go outside and play. Be sure to explain the dangers to your child so they can appreciate the dangers of cold weather. It’s easy to overlook the obvious, but they need to learn to handle weather appropriately. Teach your children to look for signs of having been in the cold too long, such as numb and tingling fingers, sniffly nose, and watering eye. If they are able to let someone know they have been in the cold too long, they can come in on their own before frost nip or frostbite sets in.

A great benefit to teaching them to take care of themselves in all weather conditions is that they can tell their daycare provider their needs. If they are visiting a neighbor or relative, or other situations where you might not be readily available, they may be able to correct their own situation or recognize trouble signs in other children.

Just these few extra steps can save a whole lot of pain and trouble, keep your child safe and insure a good and fun winter for everyone!

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Day Care Deductions for 2010 Taxes

day-care-taxes-2010With the start of the New Year it’s time to think about our taxes for last year. Decide on Day Care has some great child care tax tips for you to be sure you are prepared for this tax season. Day care can actually be a very good tax deduction but it is very important that you have all the right documents lined up and ready. Make sure to talk to your day care provider early to be sure that you’ll have all your documentation and information ready for taxes. If you’ve had multiple providers through the year, you’ll need to get a Tax ID Number (TIN) or their Social Security Number (SSN).

Day Care Center

The type of day care provider that you have will determine what kind of tax information you should get from them.  A daycare center such as a preschool should have the appropriate tax paperwork available for their parents.  If they child care center doesn’t offer it, just ask them for the information you need.  You’ll need a receipt for the full year, their full business name, and their TIN.

In Home Daycare

In home daycare providers know they need to provide this information to their clients as well.  They should be able to provide you a receipt for your day care expenses for the year.  Remember, they are running a business themselves and are required to track this information, but the accuracy and diligence vary widely from day care provider to day care provider.  Be sure to ask for documentation with as much advance notice as possible so they have time to prepare the required paperwork. Ask for a receipt of your payments for the year, as well as their TIN or SSN. If your provider gives you her SSN, please be very careful with the number. If it’s written down, don’t include any other identifying information on the sheet (such as her name and date of birth), and destroy the paper once you have completed your taxes. You need to do your part to protect her from identity theft.

Nanny

If you have a nanny doing the childcare, it is up to you to document her earnings and take the appropriate taxes out throughout the year. You will need to file taxes as an employer, so this will be more complicated than enrolling your child in a day care center or privately run daycare.

If you use a babysitter frequently this can also be deducted as a child care expense on your taxes for the year.  Just be sure to keep track of when and how much in case you are audited.  Often times if you do not have use frequent child care you may not meet the minimum needed for a deduction.  It is a good idea to do a quick and dirty calculation of your day care expenses to see if it will be worth it for you to itemize your day care and child care deductions.

Even if you don’t have full time daycare, you may still be able to deduct expenses relating to childcare.  Look to your local tax code for the specifics but many offer tax breaks to help families with children.

Other Considerations

You will need to document your childcare expenses, but it’s also important not to let any other possible tax breaks slip through the cracks.

  • Government tax deductions
  • Employment day care benefits
  • Childcare payments
  • Tax credits
  • Volunteer work
  • Charitable contributions

If you’re planning to get a refund, you want to get all the information as soon as possible. Please be patient with your daycare provider if they are not getting the information to you as quickly as you would like. That’s not a problem if you end up owing money, but you definitely don’t want to wait until the very last minute to get the necessary information from your provider.

You might also want to check with your employer to see if they offer a plan to take a certain amount of money out of your paycheck each month, pre-tax, and make that money available to you to pay your childcare provider. Since this money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes, it affects the amount of the childcare expense deduction you’re allowed to take.

Be sure to check your local and Federal regulations and speak with tax professionals should you have complicated daycare taxes and expenses.  Be sure that everything is documented and speak with those that were involved in your day care throughout the year.  Taxes are different from household to household but many people forgo child care deductions they could be receiving.

TurboTax 2010 for Day Care Deductions
Day Care deductions can be maximized with easy to use TurboTax 2010.

There are many great software solutions for taxes.  Use the one that you are most comfortable if you decide to do your own taxes, but make sure you have the software that fits your particular needs.  At www.decideondaycare.com, we like using TurboTax. It guides you through the process step by step and makes sure you’re not missing out on any deductions. However, sometimes it’s best to leave complicated tax situations to the professionals.

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Day Care Gifts for Birthdays and Holidays

Gifts for Day Care Providers

daycare_craft_messYour child’s day care center teachers, in-home childcare provider, or nanny, deserve recognition for the priceless service they provide. You want to give them a token of appreciation for their hard work, especially around the holidays, but what would be appropriate? Decide on Day Care is here to help!

Day Care Center Teachers

Your child may be in a room with several teachers. If you are strapped for cash, an appreciative note is very welcome. If you would like to give more, you certainly can. Since you probably don’t know too much about their lives outside the center, a gift like cash or a gift certificate to a restaurant or a store would be good.  If you have a better idea of hobbies or needs, you may be able to tailor your gift a bit more to the individual.

In-Home Child Care Provider or Nanny

When you drop your child off at someone’s home day care five days a week, or she comes to your house, it’s easier to get an idea of a good present for her.  Again, a note expressing your appreciation for her is very nice. She has a close relationship with your child, and something from your child or with your child’s photo on it is a sweet gift. If you are not sure, the cash or gift card route is always appreciated.  For a day care provider, you could also purchase something for the day care, like toys, books, or craft supplies. Also, don’t forget your child’s day care on her birthday. It will really make her feel appreciated to be celebrated on her special day.

Best Gift Ideas For Women
Best Gift Ideas For Women

She may love:

  • Cash
  • Gift cards (to restaurants, salons, her favorite store)
  • Something from your child
  • A note of appreciation
  • A cleaning service (make sure you know she won’t take this as an insult instead of a gift!)
  • If she has children of her own, offer YOUR babysitting services
  • A day off, with pay

Teaching Moments with Day Care

This is also a great opportunity to teach your child the meaning of the season of giving.  Have your child make something special for your child care provider.  They love craft projects and your day care provider will love the specialized gift and note of thanks straight from your child. This is a great opportunity to talk to them about the merits of giving and why we give things to each other. Talk to them about what it means to offer appreciation to those in their lives.

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Day Care Locator

daycare-center-climbingAt www.decideondaycare.com, we want to give you the parenting information you need to make the search for the perfect child care provider as easy as possible. Here’s a good place to begin the search. We’ve gathered links to websites for specific states to help you find day care in your area. Most are government-run websites for a child care locator containing certified day care providers. In some cases we were unable to find a suitable government site, so we substituted another daycare resource.

Just click on your state’s name. The link will lead to an external website to help you find day care providers in your area.

We cannot warranty or guarantee the accuracy of any information on any of these websites. This list does not constitute an endorsement by www.decideondaycare.com . Our hope is that this list can help you get started in your search for quality day care.

We hope that you find the information here helpful in your search for quality day care providers.  If you have any questions or comments concerning this list please feel free to contact us at www.decideondaycare.com by using our contact us form.

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Daycare Research Spreadsheet

daycare-spreadsheet

When I first tried to find daycare for my children, I realized how difficult it was to keep track of my findings about each of the daycare providers, and it wasn’t easy to compare the different providers.

I learned so much information as I interviewed them over the phone. There were many questions I asked the daycare providers as I interviewed them on the phone: Does that daycare have a preschool curriculum? Did that daycare have any pets? What was the childcare provider’s discipline style?  Were there any smokers in the house?  What were their hours?  So I created a spreadsheet to track all this information I collected during the phone interviews.  I also collected information from the local United Way and other organizations that had information on daycare providers specific to my area.

Ecosystem Grid Journal
Ecosystem Grid Journal

This tool became invaluable. I realized I could look at different daycare providers at a glance and see which ones fit our needs better.  When I became tired of calling providers, my wife could see where I had left off, call more providers on the list, and fill in the information we needed. It was such a helpful tool for us, I hope that it can help you in your own search for daycare. The spreadsheet includes costs, extra fees, and some of the more common questions you’ll ask. There are also several places for miscellaneous daycare information for any specific questions you may have.

Download the spreadsheet and save it to your computer. Fill out as much detail as you’d like…I would suggest being very detailed.  You need to have enough information on the sheet to make a decision between many daycare providers.  If your notes are too generic it will be difficult to see differences between providers. Specific references to the conversation may jog your memory about the provider.  It is possible that you may need to return to your daycare search sooner than expected. If it hasn’t been long since you started, your spreadsheet will be very helpful to you, and providers who didn’t have openings when you began looking may have an opening six months later.

Make sure to have this spreadsheet open and ready when you start making your phone calls and start investigating the specifics of each daycare provider.  This spreadsheet can be used for preschools, daycare centers, nannies and even babysitters.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.  We would also love to hear any feedback you may have, including suggestions about items that we could add or change to make it more useful.

Good luck tracking down your perfect daycare! This extra effort will be well worth the reward of finding the perfect daycare or preschool for you!

Click here to download the spreadsheet. (This does not have any macros in it.)

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Daycare Features at a Glance

daycare_kid_mousingMaking the decision between a day care center, at-home daycare, and a nanny is difficult work. This chart shows some of the main features of different types of childcare. If you would like further information regarding specific items, please check the articles under Types of Daycare.

Child care Features

Daycare Center

In-Home Daycare

Nanny

Government regulations Yes Yes No
One-on-one attention No No Yes
Chance to interact with children of own age Yes Yes No
Multiple teachers Yes No No
Frequency of infectious illness Yes Yes No
Caregiver turnover Yes No Yes
Individual focus on special needs (food allergy, etc.) No No Yes
Flexibility in the child’s routine No No Yes
Extended hours of operation Yes No No
Backup care if a provider can’t work (vacation, illness, etc.) Yes No No
Personal relationship between parent and provider No Yes Yes
Possibility of preschool curriculum Yes Yes Yes
Budget-minded Yes Yes No
Supervision of provider Yes No No
Family privacy Yes Yes No
Socializing with other children Yes Yes No
Convenience No No Yes
Home-like environment No Yes Yes
Control over rules and values No No Yes
Employee taxes and benefits, living arrangements, etc. No No Yes
Chance to meet other parents Yes Yes No
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The First Week at an In-Home Daycare

daycare_sidewalk_artThe first week in an in-home daycare will be a very important week for you, your child and the provider you chose.  You’ll have to get used to how each other handles the daily routine.  Make sure that you’ve talked to your child about the upcoming changes in their routine and the exciting new daycare they are about to attend.  This can be a difficult time for everyone as they adjust to this new change. Just remember to take it one day a time, be patient, and maintain open and honest communication.

Transitions for Young Children
Transitions for Young Children

It’s very important to make sure that you prepare yourself as well as your child for starting in this new in-home daycare.  Talk to your child frequently in the days leading up to beginning.  Answer any questions your child may have and make your best effort to help your child be comfortable with this idea.  They’ll be going into a stranger’s house with strange people and children they don’t know.  This can be very difficult for child who has known only comfort and familiar faces.

Routines and Transitions
Routines and Transitions

Make sure to schedule plenty of extra time in your daily schedule for this first week so you can properly drop your child off and pick them up.  Give yourself an extra fifteen minutes to a half an hour for both drop off and pick up for your first week.  For the drop-off, you will likely need to hang out with your child for awhile until they get comfortable with their new situation.  The new provider will probably get the child playing with the other children right away. This will help your child feel better about the new daycare.  When you pick them up make sure to speak with the daycare provider about the details of their day and how your child did.  Make sure to offer lots of praises to your child as this will surely help them to warm up to the new daycare.

The first week at the in-home daycare is your chance to make sure the standard of care is at your desired level.  This is the best time to make any adjustments for the long-term.  Most daycare providers will be very receptive to making some minor changes should it make the parents and the child happy.  If you see anything drastic, be sure to bring it up immediately so that it can be addressed.  Once a certain amount of time passes both your provider, and you, will have an unspoken agreement about how care is handled.  It’s easier to make minor adjustments during the first week.

 

Children Starting School
Children Starting School

During this first week you also want to make sure the daycare provider has all of the equipment and supplies they may need.  For younger children in diapers this means you’ll have to supply all the necessary things surrounding a diaper change: diapers, wet wipes, any creams or ointments.  You should also provide an extra set of clothes or two in case they get messy.  You may even need to supply an extra car seat should they take any trips.  Some daycare providers will also want you to leave coats, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen and possibly other things to help them take care of your child.  Make an effort to get all these to them as soon as possible.

 

Preschooler Problem Solver
Preschooler Problem Solver

The right in-home daycare can be the toughest to find. In home daycares can provide some of the most benefit once you find the right one for you.  It’s important to start early, remain diligent, and make sure that the daycare fits your needs.  If you make this effort, you’ll be rewarded by a high quality in-home daycare that will take great care of your children.  Hopefully a long lasting bond of friendship will forge between the children as well as you and the daycare provider. This kind of care can be ideal.  Bringing the social setting of a few kids together with the focused personal attention that children need and deserve, it is no wonder that in-home daycare is so popular and widely used.

 

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Needs That Match an In-Home Daycare

daycare_girl_reading_floorWhen considering daycare for your child, it’s important to keep in mind what you want in daycare.  You may find that in-home daycare is the best solution to meet your needs.  These daycares range widely in the type of care they offer.  Some are little more than a playroom in the basement or the kids are cooped up all day.  Others are highly structured with daily itineraries that plot out what your child will be doing.  Some include religious curriculum, and some often take the kids out during the day on various trips.  It’s good to have a clear understanding of what you need in the daycare and remember your priorities when seeking one out.

In-home daycare is often less expensive than a daycare center or a nanny.  This is often a driving factor in parents choosing in-home daycare.  However, being less expensive doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of child care.  Keep this in mind when you are searching for a daycare because the quality care of the care is very important.

Quality in-home daycares rarely have openings when you need them!  Therefore, it’s very important to get a good lead on enrolling your child in the in-home daycare of your choice.  Looking for a daycare really should be considered six months or more out from the time you’d like to enroll your child. If this isn’t possible, you should still be able to find someone, but you will definitely need to contact a lot of people.

In-home daycare providers offer personalized care for children that they wouldn’t get in a daycare center.  Most in-home daycares will have six or maybe eight children total.  The ratio for this is almost always better than the child to teacher ratio you’ll find at a daycare center.  Much stronger bonds between the daycare provider and your child will form. Many childcare professionals see this is a valuable and a source of happy and healthy child development.  This is a very important time in your child’s life and being able to forge strong bonds with those around them can help them considerably in the future.  This often helps children feel much more comfortable in this type of daycare.

Choosing Childcare For Dummies
Choosing Childcare For Dummies

In-home daycares often offer a kind of customizable care.  Having such a small group of children to look after, they can easily make arrangements to suit your needs.  They’re definitely an excellent choice for children with special needs.  Be sure to discuss any special needs and the combinations required with the daycare provider.  With the marked increase in child allergies in recent years, in-home daycare providers may offer a certain peace of mind.  This is because the provider is able to modify her menu, in-home snacks and be acutely aware of your child’s  allergies, which allows them to screen any snacks that might come in and to make other parents of the daycare aware of this.

Being less expensive than other forms of daycare, in-home daycare providers are the preferred choice for many parents.  Not only are they less expensive, they offer a type of customizable care that allows the parents and the children to feel more comfortable.  They offer custom care and often quality preschool so important in child development. The best ones are incredibly difficult to get into, but being a proactive, educated and well-meaning parent you too will be able to get your child into the care of your choice.

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The First Week in a Daycare Center

daycare-center-classroomThe first week a new daycare center is going to be an important one.  It is important to do your best to do it right, prepare your child correctly, and work with the daycare center to make sure this transition goes as smooth as absolutely possible.  This first week may well end up shaping you and your child’s overall experience with this daycare center. You don’t want your child to dislike the daycare center or have to fight them every time you drop them off. Remember to have an extra amount of patience during this first week with your child as this is a very difficult time for them. This will help to make a happy daycare center experience.

Meeting New Friends
Meeting New Friends

Once you’ve signed all the papers and your start date for the new daycare center is set, make sure to ask the administration specifically how the first few days are going to go.  It may be a little different as they will certainly have their own methods to integrate your child into their daycare facility.  Do your best to follow these procedures that they give you to help with this transition.  They will likely tell you a few things to do when you arrive to get used to the daily drop off and pick up schedule.  Make sure that you speak with your child about this transition ahead of time so they are excited and eager to start the new daycare center.  If you spring this decision on them as you are dropping them off for the first day you’re guaranteed to have a lot of problems.  Do what you can to generate excitement in your child about starting with the daycare center because this will really help them prepare for this new experience.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time this first week while dropping them off and picking them up.  You may have questions for the administration or teachers and they may have questions for you. Be prepared to spend a little extra time there than you will normally to make sure everyone is on the same page.  You should also have some extra time to comfortably drop your child off.  Most daycare centers will encourage you to hang out for a few minutes in the morning to help your child adjust to the new classroom and the new people.  You definitely don’t want your child to think you are abandoning them in this unfamiliar environment.  So take your time, help them feel comfortable as you introduce the teacher and the children.  You may even want to sit down with the teacher and your child and start playing a game or with some of the toys.  This will help to distract them and allow you to leave without tears.

 

The Fairy Twins: Land of New Friends
The Fairy Twins: Land of New Friends

This routine should last through the week and then you can gradually wean your child off the heavy attention this first week demands.  Eventually you would like to get your child to the point where you sign them in, give them a hug, and then let them run off to their daycare friends.  Be sure not to push your child too much and allow them the time they’ll need to feel comfortable in this new daycare center. Don’t be too surprised though if there is nothing that can be done to calm your child, and you have to leave when he or she is crying. It is heartbreaking, but usually they’ve stopped crying by the time you’ve reached your car in the parking lot.

 

Make sure to touch base daily with your child’s teacher to ask how they’re doing and if there is anything you can do to help.  Make sure that you stay connected during this first week to the needs of your child to as well as the daycare center.  This is a transition time for you and your child.  Make it’s the best you can and you’ll have a pleasant and lasting daycare center experience.

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