Toddle spoke to Gini McFadyen, Centre Manager from Papilio Early Learning Yarralumla, to find out what a centre does to set a parent’s mind at ease during these times of transition.
How do you make a new parent feel more secure about starting at childcare?
‘Right from the moment a family first steps foot in our service on a tour they are welcomed with friendly, open and honest interactions,’ explains Gini.
‘First impressions are very important. We give the family information about our whole service and some background information about our educators, sharing our passion and commitment to early education and child development.
We also ask families to share with us what they are looking for in regards to their children’s care and education. This is the point in the engagement to address any concerns or hesitations and to support the family with what we will do to support them.’
Do you offer orientation sessions?
‘We offer free ‘stay and play sessions’ which allows families to experience an extended period of time at the centre,’ says Gini.
‘We strongly encourage all families to make the most of these sessions to ensure a smooth transition into childcare.’
What happens in an orientation session?
‘During these ‘stay and plays’, children are introduced to their educator, meet their peers and participate in the regular activities,’ explains Gini.
‘While children have their secure base with them (this can be a parent, relative or good friend) we first have the family doing the routines with their child then transferring these routines to the educators while still with us.
This time also assists in the family members developing relationships with our educators and other children, further assisting their child in feeling safe with us.
Having had these ‘stay and play’ orientations children feel a lot safer and more secure with the familiar face of an educator they have already met. This all makes day one a lot easier!’
What else could a parent do to help their child settle in?
‘We will often suggest in orientation sessions for families to socialise their children prior to commencing in any care and education setting,’ explains Gini.
‘Children who have spent time with other safe people away from their parents will often settle into the care and education settings more easily. Also, with babies, being able to drink water from a bottle or sippy cup is very important.’
What if a child is still breastfeeding when they start child care?
‘We do welcome breastfeeding at our centre, which can ease concerns for mothers who are still breastfeeding,’ shares Gini.
‘It’s reassuring to know that just because a child is starting care, it doesn’t mean a breastfeeding journey has to end. We can cater for expressed feeds, formula feeds, as well as caregivers who want to come into the centre to feed their baby.’
Can technology help reduce a parent’s nerves?
‘Our centres use the free Storypark app as a way to stay connected with families,’ says Gini. ‘This sends photos, videos and updates to families, showing what their child has been doing during the day.
This often provides great comfort to families, being able to see what their children are up to – and that they are having a great time, despite maybe some morning tears.’
What would you say to a parent that was nervous about their first day of child care?
‘We always listen to a family’s concerns, and understand that nerves can come from both children and parents,’ shares Gini.
‘In our conversations, we tend to draw on our past experiences both in the industry and with our own children. We find the children and families who have had the ‘stay and play’ sessions have much less nervousness than families who have not accessed this option.
We will always try to engage a new family in orientation for this reason.’
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