Thoughts on Changing Child Care Situations (page 2)

— Bananas Inc.
Updated on Apr 24, 2014

What You Can Do With Your Child

Children may need some encouragement to face the change. Here are some activities a parent or provider can suggest:

  1. Play games or act out situations which involve change and leaving; suggest to your child that a favorite doll is going to visit a new school and see what happens.
  2. Say good-bye by drawing a picture or writing a letter to the provider s/he is leaving. If appropriate, the child may want to select a small present for the provider (soap, handkerchief, etc.) or give the program a toy s/he has outgrown.
  3. Make a scrapbook of the old child care situation (with your help). It could include the child’s drawings, pictures drawn by other children or photos of the program.
  4. After the situation has settled down, call or visit with the staff or friends from the old child care situation if the distance isn’t too great.

What The “Old” Child Care Program Can Do

The provider’s role is especially crucial. Your help can make a smooth transition for the parents and the child.

  1. If possible, take a picture of all the children together. Have a copy made for yourself and one to give the child. Don’t forget to somehow get yourself in the picture. If the child has been in your care for some time, your picture will be more important than the playmates!
  2. Plan a small farewell party at lunch or snack time. Be sure the other children know in advance the purpose of the party, perhaps using a simple statement like, “John is going to a new child care program and I will miss him.”
  3. Remember to talk about the child after s/he is gone. This will help children who miss their friend learn to separate. This will also show children that you value them and will miss them too, if they should leave.
  4. Maintain contact with the family, if possible. Write or call the child soon after the departure so the child knows you care.
  5. If the child is leaving the program at your request, the situation is more complex for you and the family. Providers, like parents, need to keep children out of disputes. If you initiated this change because the child’s developmental needs weren’t being met, give the parent that information through statements like these “Joe needs more one-to-one attention than he is getting in my large family child care home. Why don’t you look at family child care homes which serve fewer children?” or “Susan seems bored in child care because all of the other children are so much younger. I think she would enjoy being around children closer to her age.” Such suggestions help parents search for a new program which will better fit the child’s needs.

What The “New” Child Care Program Can Do

Making a child feel welcome in a new program is important. Here are some suggestions which may work for you:

  1. Convey to the parent your ability and willingness to work with the family during this transition. It is comforting for parents to know you have experience with children who may be insecure, sad or anxious when they first enter care.
  2. Encourage a new child, especially a very young or reluctant child, to bring a favorite toy or blanket to child care. Bringing a “piece of home” along can help.
  3. Ask an “old-timer” from your program to show the new child around. Children can sometimes break the ice faster than adults – the sooner the child makes friends in care, the smoother the change should be.
  4. It may be helpful to maintain a little distance with a child who is having trouble adjusting. Some children respond better if they are allowed to “warm up” to a provider or program at their own speed.
  5. Talk to the child about the old child care situation. Neutral questions like “What do you miss the most about your last program?” or “What is different about this child care program?” can give you some clues about how to make the child more at ease.
  6. After a reasonable period (3-4 weeks), share with the parent any concerns you may have about a child who is having trouble adjusting. The parent may have some good suggestions for you. You may have a better perspective on the situation, if, for example, you find out that the child reacted in the same manner at the last program but eventually adjusted. If the parent gives you permission, a chat with the former provider may also give you ideas about how to help a child.
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