At what age should I start taking my child to childcare?

I want to begin my first article by welcoming our readers. When I first decided to write these articles, I thought “Why not? Through our website I can help not just our parents at Rainbow but also share our experiences with a wider audience”. While I will select the topics for the first few articles, in future I would love to receive your questions and suggestions, so that we discuss those aspects of bringing up kids that most interest you. So the topic for our first article is “At what age should I start taking my child to childcare?”

My answer might surprise many of you. A child should only start going to childcare when the parents are 100% ready for this. Yes, dear adults, you have to start with yourselves. The key thing for a child is to see absolute con.idence in their parent’s decision. Your words are not enough for your children. Children have strong intuition. From birth a child can detect their mother’s mood. If the mother is miserable (and sometimes in tears) when taking her child to childcare, what reaction should we expect from the child? I would say that, as a rule, children under 12 months tolerate separation form their parents better than the parents. Experience tells us that for children at this stage, the key thing is a good routine, with meals spread out appropriately and well-­‐organised sleep. When you first take your child to a childcare centre, it is important to match the home routine with the routine of the childcare environment. Child care groups for children under 18 months need to adapt to the routine of the child, be flexible and take an individual approach to each child. Only after 12 months, when moving to the next room, is it possible to adjust the routine of the child with the routine of other children, smoothly transitioning to one daytime nap.

In the next age group it is better to support a consistent routine for all children, as after 18 months children are active for longer periods. These longer periods can be used for developmental game and learning social skills.

Starting a child at child care after 18 months is also fine, but it is important to take into account other considerations. Your child is older, smarter, and it is not just a .ixed routine that is important for your child to feel comfortable in child care at this age. You need to understand the psychology of your child, be able to explain what is happening to them, and know how you should behave when dropping your child off. If you are able to show your child that your decision to start child care is the right one, if the child sees that you are calm and relaxed, you are well on the way to success. Isn’t this better than running back and forth and asking for “one more kiss” or “just wave bye-bye to mum” when your child is already occupied in an activity?
The older a child is when starting child care, the more patient the parents have to be, the more certain in themselves and their decision. Do not show any dissatisfaction or concern (you can always discuss any issues with the carer or centre manager later when your child is not present). If your child is misbehaving or upset, don’t let your child sway your emotions. You have spent a lot of time in selecting the right centre for your child, now rely on the staff in that centre to handle your child. Don’t remain in the room longer than necessary to acquaint your child with the staff and the room. It is easy to think that by spending more time, you are easing the transition for your child, but unfortunately, it is often the opposite. If the mother can find the strength to leave con.idently, the child will automatically pick up that con.idence and will adapt to their environment faster.

Wishing you every success in your journey!

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