When a child starts child care for the first time, moves to a new centre or if they suffer from separation anxiety, emotions can run high for all parties involved, the child, the parent and the educators. To help children transition into the new care environment we must implement strategies to help ease the stress of the situation.
Through observations and reflective conversations, the educators came to the understanding that the toddlers, especially new children, were becoming overwhelmed with big emotions when the room was busy and loud. In our Kookaburra Room (15 months-2 1/2years) an important strategy we now have in place is ensuring we provide a calm and quiet environment to help overcome this concern.
We realised that children will naturally connect with some educators better than others, so we have used this information as a tool in assisting children whenever they need comforting. This could be helping the child cope at drop off time, if they hurt themselves, or even just changing their nappy. We have found the consistency of care is really beneficial for the children, as they build a positive relationship with the educator. Through having a positive relationship, an educator is able to join the child’s Circle of Security.
As each child is individual, we try a variety of settling ideas, this may include:
- Sensory activities
- Getting their bed out so they have a safe place
- Looking at our animals, Rosie the chicken and Squirtle the turtle
- The sandpit
- Getting their sibling(if applicable) to play with them
- Sitting with an educator in a quiet place and talking about what the children are doing in other areas of the environment or just having that physical closeness
- Finding an interest based activity
Or it could be as simple as establishing a drop off routine such as sitting down at the table to have breakfast or morning tea.
To help children feel like they belong and that they are in a safe and secure environment we will try all of the previously mentioned techniques and more. However, if parents feel apprehensive about leaving their children, these strategies will rarely be successful. This is why it is vitally important to continually strive to build positive relationships with the families, so they too can have their own sense of belonging in our service. We have learnt children will respond positively toward us when parents do.
Written by Sallyanne Hill and Peta Doyle
Karana Early Education Centre