Ready, set, go! Your child's first day
The lunchbox is packed, the backpack waiting expectantly by the front door, and your toddler or preschooler is champing at the bit to finally become a ‘kindy kid’.
Whether you’re an old hand at this or you’ve shepherded older children through the process already, the Big Day can bring a mix of excitement, anxiety, sadness or even relief at finally getting some time out from your busy ball of energy.
Ideally, you will have had the opportunity to spend time at your child’s new kindergarten or early learning centre together to get to know the place and the people. Our teachers encourage at least two visits - it helps your child to feel a bit more at home and it also helps our teachers to learn more about them from you.
This might include:
- special words and ways of communicating
- favourite ways of being comforted
- sleep routines - when and how they like to go to sleep (if necessary)
- toileting routines
- favourite foods and dietary requirements
- life and whānau - important things that may be happening or anything that might be upsetting them
- any special education needs, or early intervention services they are receiving
When it comes to that all-important first day, how things unfold will depend on your child.
For some children, the reassuring and familiar presence of Mum, Dad, a whānau member or caregiver can give them the secure base they need to explore their new environment. Others surprise even the grown-ups by throwing themselves into kindergarten life whole-heartedly without a moment of hesitation.
The reality for most children is somewhere in the middle, and it’s not unusual for children who are very uncertain on the first day to do a complete 180 with a bit of time and encouragement.
Children who initially settle well, can sometimes become unsettled a week or two later when they may become a bit tired and realise that this is now a regular event.
Teachers are great people to talk with if you’re worried about your child - they’ve usually seen it all before and have lots of experience in helping children navigate this all-important milestone.
Whether you’re staying for a bit or leaving your newly-minted kindy kid to it, helping them create a new routine around arriving and settling can be reassuring for your child, and also promotes self-sufficiency. After you’ve signed in, help your child to hang up their bag and put their lunchbox away.
We encourage our families to put together healthy kai for their children - natural, whole foods, fruit and veges that will nourish them and give them the energy they need for a busy day’s play. Talk to us more about ideas for lunches – and have a look at what others bring when you come to visit if you’re looking for some new ideas.
We have a nut-free policy in all of our kindergartens and early learning centres – please don’t send any nut products to kindy in the lunchbox. If you’re not sure about this, just ask!
Our top teacher tips for the first day include:
- Don't worry if your child is still not quite there with toilet training - our teaching teams are well used to dealing with this, and can often also give you some great advice if you're looking for it
- Encourage your child to get involved in an activity
- Be positive about the day ahead
- Give yourself plenty of time to settle your child in
- Use a short routine when leaving, such as reading a story together or waving to each other through the window
- It's really important that you tell your child when you're leaving, say goodbye, and then leave straight away. If you're worried, you can always phone, or your teaching team will write you if they need to. It's normal for a little anxiety at first!
Your first day checklist:
- a drink bottle - named
- a sun hat - or a warm hat in winter. Please name all your child's clothes
- a change of clothes, and a bag for sending home dirty clothes
- warm jacket and gumboots in the winter - we play outside all year round!
- food - check with you teachers about the kind of kai we encourage children to eat at kindergarten
- spare nappies and wipes
- a bag to hold all these things in - named
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