A couple of days ago, I sat down with my sister, Becky Oliver, who is an experienced infant teacher at a daycare and asked her some questions to share with Playdate Crashers everywhere. Below is a transcript from our interview.
Jamie: What are some tips you have for parents taking their baby or child to daycare for the first time?
Becky: Call the daycare when a good time would be for you to come and visit with your child the week before they start and plan to take your child’s things. This will give you a chance to talk to your child’s teacher(s) when you are not rushed to leave for work.
Make sure all of the items you bring to daycare are labeled. In a room with many children it helps prevent lost or mixed up items. It is also a state requirement in most places.
Tell the teacher about your child. Do they like to be put to sleep a certain way? Is there a lovey that they “must” have for nap? etc. Anything you want to share is fair game. Some centers have their own child information or “getting to know you” form. If yours does not, feel free to create your own.
Jamie: What things should a parent be looking for when choosing a center to enroll their child in?
Becky: Let me give you a few things to consider when looking at a center.
When you arrive at the center is the door secure….can you walk right in or does someone have to let you in?
Is the director or person giving the tour welcoming?
Are the teachers in the classrooms interacting with the children or are the kids just wondering around aimlessly?
Are the state ratios are being followed for the classroom?
Is the Center accredited by any programs? (NAEYC or Stars program)
What is the center’s illness policy? (Will you be missing work for every little cold?)
Jamie: What things do parents do that you wish they wouldn’t, to help make their child’s experience better?
Becky: If you are breastfeeding, don’t wait until the last minute to try a bottle with your baby. Be honest with your child’s teacher if they are having trouble with the bottle.
Jamie: How can parents help their children who are dealing with separation anxiety, or how can they ensure to have a smooth drop off routine?
Becky:Prepare your daycare bag the night before. Lunches in the fridge, diapers and other supplies next to the door or already in the car, bottles mixed the night before (if your center requires pre-mixed), grab and go the next morning.
Give yourself more than enough time to drop off your child.
Say goodbye to your child. Don’t sneak off and hope they don’t notice. Daycare teachers are used to children being upset and usually have techniques for calming children down. In my classroom, I pick up the baby and walk them to the window to watch for cars to go past on the driveway. Most of the time the child has calmed down before the parents have put their shoes back on (we have a shoe-free classroom)
Jamie: Are there any products you would suggest to parents to help make daycare easier?
Becky: Label Itz Bandle Bottle Labels– they are washable rubber rings embossed with your child’s name. Perfect for bottles, sippy cups, and water bottles.
Jamie: Thanks Becky for taking time to answer some of my questions.
Readers, feel free to comment below with questions or discussion, and Becky will respond to your questions.
Becky Oliver is the nursery supervisor and lead young infant teacher at Tender Years Daycare in Camp Hill, PA and has over 5 years of experience working as an infant teacher.