S.P. asks from Rye, NY on September 29, 2010
!Helping Daughter Transition into Daycare
My 2 year old daughter is in the process of transitioning to a Montessori daycare from being home with a nanny. She's in the middle of her third week, and it isn't going as smoothly as we hoped. This week has shown small improvements every day, but I am looking for advice from other parents on things that you've done that have helped your kids adjust.
They have a 2 week phase in period, where they pair her with a specific teacher and she spends ever increasing periods over the first week, first with her previous caregiver in the room, and then without. They post pictures of family members in the room, and encourage the child to bring one stuffed toy, book or picture book for naptime.
My husband did the transition, and the first week went very well. The second week was much more difficult, and she said "no school" every day, both morning and night.
She does seem to have bonded with her primary teacher, and has made some friends in the school. But she isn't eating almost anything while she's there, and she spends much of the afternoon focused on when we're going to pick her up. Last night she had a major meltdown (several actually). Not to mention all the "no school."
We've given her lots of extra love at night and in the AM, and she's been sleeping with me regularly after mostly having transitioned to a toddler bed. She basically plasters herself to my side all night.
I know that much of this is normal, that the school is a good one, and that it will be a good place for her once she adjusts. But it still concerns me, and I'd like to get ANY advice about how to help her settle in and feel more comfortable in the new environment. I'm also open to things that we can recommend to the school, as they've been very good at working with us.
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So What Happened?™
Thank you for the kind words & advice.
I mentioned the "my day" album, I think it is brilliant, and they may do it. Unfortunately neither staying at home or keeping her nanny part-time is a real choice, but I think that she's going to be fine after initial transition.
Last week was better, and this week started out great - until I learned another important lesson. If your child is doing well, don't stand at the door to watch them! She toddled into the room happily this morning, turned around, saw me, and then started to cry. Heartbreaking. But my own fault, and a lesson learned.
J.S. answers from San Francisco on September 29, 2010
If you feel your child needs an expanded social environment, Montessori is a great choice and it sounds like you have good feelings about the school. I taught Montessori for a while and definitely saw a pattern wherein little ones were really stoked the first week, then unsure the next, then soon found their niche/rhythm/way in the room and did fine. A short, upbeat goodbye and a mellow welcome home from you will go a long way.
If you do choose to reduce or limit how much time your child spends at the school, a shorter day (no less than 3 hours) for a cluster of consecutive days (not every other day as then everyday is a transition) can work well for a little one. However, if you want her to really feel like the classroom is family, doing more than 3 days a week is probably key.
The school (other parents, administrator, etc) will probably have some great tips for you as well.
Good luck :)
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D.B. answers from New York on September 30, 2010
My son had a really tough time with this too. One thing that really helped - the teacher took some pictures during his school day and made a little book called "Daniel's Day at School". The first picture was him arriving at school with one of us, then there were a bunch of pictures of his day, with captions telling the activity and naming the friends and teachers pictured, and it ended with him being picked up to go home. He loved it and we read it every night. I think it helped him understand that every day would be structured with a beginning, middle, and END, and that the end would ALWAYS be him being picked up to go home. Hope this helps.
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T.C. answers from Colorado Springs on September 29, 2010
Is it required for your dear little one to go to daycare? If she just is starting it, then I assume she was with you up until now. Did you go back to work? I only ask because I'm trying to understand your situation. If she doesn't need to be there for your work situation or something like that, then I would say it would be best for her to come back home. She's still so young. Young children (and I would content older children, including teens) need to be at home with their parents to be discipled and taught. Institutions in general are not a good idea for the raising of our children. Other than that, I guess she will eventually get over it and adjust. It sounds like you have nice daycare workers.
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T.N. answers from Albany on September 29, 2010
Hi S., I LOVE your daycare's 'phase in' proceedures, sounds like you found a great place.
I don't want to sound preachy, but since she's so very young, it could just be too much for her. Often times the young ones are given WAY too much stimulation, and then we wonder why they have behavioral issues.
Since she's so accustomed to being home with nanny, could you just send her once or twice a week?
This way you could say, school today, no school tomorrow!
Or even shorter days? Is she going 5 days, ALL day?
At just 2 years old she's really just a baby, and that's a HUGE transition!
Maybe home with Nanny 3 days, and daycare for 2?
L.C. answers from Allentown on September 29, 2010
Sonds like good daycare. My daughter just started a new school, she is 4, and she loved it for the first 3 weeks. Now she goes either "Oh good, school tomorrow" or "AGAIN? I don't want to go". I think any change is difficult and tiring for them. Her school principal mentioned that the new kids don't eat much for the first few weeks, so again, that's normal. And I like that you allow her to sleep with you. She needs consistency, support and attention. Let her know each day what the schedule is for the next day. See if you can pick her up early for a week or two. I assume you work so that might not be easy. My daughter started daycare at 2.5 and loved it, but I did find after about 3 weeks she was clingy for a few days; so not sure that the problem is your daughter's age, probably just transitional adjustment.
J.D. answers from New York on September 30, 2010
I'm sorry - its so very difficult isn't it? I'd say just keep doing what you are doing. Its only been a couple of weeks. My son has been going to the same school since he was 10 weeks old and he still cries when I drop him off. He's 3.5 now. They tell me he's FINE minutes after I leave. It kills me though. When he transitioned to a new classroom it was REALLY HARD. Change is hard for them. Hang in there and just keep reassuring her and working with the staff and comfort her. My husband and I did this when we went to kindergarten...so I don't think age has anything to do with it. I also remember feeling terrible pretty much every year in elementary school. I just LOVED being home and preferred to be there. Of course when I got into it I was fine. LOL - now that I look back...even going away to college made me sad...and even more so when I moved to California (from NJ) in my twenties. My point is...seperation anxiety is normal...and you can't keep her in a bubble. If you are happy and comfortable with the school and the caregivers then you have to just keep working through it. Flexability at the school and if you can lessen the days until she gets comfortable but just keep positive and keep going. : ) Its so hard though, I know!