It’s a feeling described as “gut-wrenching.” Even when you’ve done your research and picked out a program you’re confident in, there’s something so unspeakably difficult about dropping your child off at daycare for the first time. Even if they’re completely fine, you’re a wreck — especially if this is your first experience ever with taking them to daycare. But our daycare center and preschool promises that you’ll get through it, and it will absolutely get easier! Here are some tips from Child Time Inc. to make that transition go a little smoother, for both your child and yourself.

Model beforehand.

When kids go through experiences and practice in various situations, they tend to do a lot better when the actual moment comes up. Of course, they need someone to teach them how to navigate unfamiliar scenarios, and that’s where you come in. You can give them the tools they need to deal with the big day (and you might find practicing helps you, as well!).

With a friend or family member, go through the motions of dropping them off with someone else — and then stay gone for a little while. If they’re screaming and crying at first, it can be heartbreaking, but remind yourself that you’re helping them grow in their independence. It can also help to make up a goodbye routine, like doing two fist bumps and a hug before parting ways. Building in that familiarity, talking about what it means for mom or dad to go away and come back, all of these things can set the stage for a smoother dropoff.

Show them the school.

At Child Time Inc., we gladly welcome and invite all families to schedule a tour! This can be a great opportunity for just parents to get a feel, but it can also help young ones start to feel comfortable with their new environment. Chances are, they’ll see the building blocks or toys once, and they’ll be ready to jump in there (maybe with your help at first, but their independence will come with time).

Go for gradual.

If you know that your young one is really going to have a hard time, and you don’t want to worry about their (or your) emotional distress all day, it’s OK to start them out gradually. Send them to daycare part-time, try out a day or two at first, or whatever else fits both your schedule and where they’re at emotionally.

Pack beforehand.

Trust us when we say that the absolute last thing you’ll want to be doing on the big day is frantically trying to get everything together, while dealing with your and your child’s emotions. Go through your daycare’s checklist of things to bring, and pack them all the night before. Don’t forget to bring something comforting for your child as needed, such as their favorite blankie or stuffed animal.

In your daycare bag, make sure you throw in some extras as well. An extra set of (seasonally appropriate) clothing, bottles/food, or diapers are always good to have on hand, and help the daycare staff immensely. That way, if something does happen, you won’t have to leave work to come take care of everything — your child will be set up for success and our caregivers can handle the rest.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Whether it’s your first or fifth experience with dropping off your young one at daycare, it is more than fine to pepper their teachers with questions! This is your child’s life and education — we take it very seriously, and know that you do too. Having those conversations, talking about your fears and concerns — both at the start of the day and at the end of the day — are necessary and great for building positive parent-teacher relationships.

Remember that setbacks will happen.

Your child might have been perfect for the first two weeks of daycare and you were the nervous wreck — no worries, it happens all the time! — and then suddenly they seem to be regressing. Their third week finds them throwing temper tantrums, screaming at the top of their lungs, and while you’ve become accustomed to dropping them off, suddenly they’re struggling.

Setbacks are completely normal, especially in the life of a growing child. Setbacks do not mean they’re failing or this isn’t working out, because growth is not linear. Of course, if you don’t feel like something is right at the daycare, you should trust your gut. But just know that in a certified, Reggio Emilia daycare and preschool like Child Time Inc., your child is only receiving the very best in care.

The first day at daycare can be beyond difficult, but it can also go just fine. Even if it’s rough for everyone involved, know that it will get better, and that our childcare center is well-equipped to help your child grow more comfortable and love their time with us. Schedule a tour with Child Time Inc. for the incredible daycare and preschool in Salt Lake City!