min read

Preparing for the first day of childcare

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Published on
January 22, 2024
November 28, 2023

Table Of Contents

The first day of childcare is a monumental step for any family. It combines new beginnings, budding independence, and developmental milestones. Preparing for this significant event is about much more than just packing a bag—it's about laying the groundwork for a smooth transition, nurturing emotional readiness, and fostering a sense of security and excitement for what lies ahead.

This guide offers a comprehensive approach to equip parents with the insights and tools needed for this pivotal day. Here, they'll find strategies to address the emotional and practical aspects of starting childcare. From setting reliable routines to establishing clear communication with caregivers, each section is designed to guide them through these initial steps easily and confidently.

As they move through the preparation steps, from the nights leading up to the first goodbye, this guide aims to transform the first day into an opportunity for growth and positive experiences. With thoughtful preparation, parents can turn potential anxieties into an enriching start to their child's educational journey, setting a tone of resilience and enthusiasm for lifelong learning.

Preparing for the First Day

The journey toward the first day of childcare is paved with anticipation and preparation. As parents ready themselves and their children for this new chapter, understanding that preparation is both practical and emotional, becomes vital. It’s not just about what goes into the backpack—it’s also about preparing hearts and minds for a change in routine and environment. Here's how to lay a solid foundation in the days leading up to this significant step.

Understanding the Transition

Transitioning to childcare is a significant change for a child, often their first step into a world beyond the family home. It involves new faces, spaces, and daily routines, which can inspire excitement and apprehension. Acknowledging these emotions is key to a smooth transition to childcare, allowing both child and parent to approach the first day with a sense of preparedness and positivity.

Actionable Steps:

Discuss Childcare Openly: Begin conversations about childcare early, discussing it as an exciting place to learn and make friends.

Visit Together: Arrange a visit to the childcare centre with your child to familiarise them with the new setting.

Read Together: Introduce books about starting childcare or school, which can help make the concept more relatable and less daunting.


  • Engage in positive talk about childcare at home.
  • Schedule a visit to the childcare centre.
  • Pick out books to read that reflect childcare experiences.
  • Practice the new morning routine a few days in advance.
  • Ensure all necessary paperwork for the childcare centre is completed and submitted.

Visit the Childcare Center

Before the first day arrives, visiting the daycare centre can play a pivotal role in easing your child into a new environment. This preliminary introduction lets them become acquainted with the sights, sounds, and people they will soon encounter daily. It's a proactive step that can demystify the experience and nurture a sense of familiarity and comfort before their first day at childcare.

Actionable Steps:

Schedule a Tour: Arrange for a guided orientation visit where you and your child can explore the learning setting together.

Meet the Staff: Introduce your child to their future educators and teachers to build trust and rapport.

Explore the Facilities: Allow your child to interact with the play areas and see where they will eat, take nap time, learn, and participate in fun activities.

Ask Questions: Encourage your child to ask their own questions to involve them in the process and help them feel heard.

Establishing a Routine

Routines are the scaffolding of a child's day, providing a sense of structure and security. Establishing a routine before childcare begins can significantly ease the transition, making the unknown more predictable. A consistent daily rhythm helps children understand what to expect and what is expected of them, reducing separation anxiety and fostering independence.

Actionable Steps:

Set Consistent Wake-Up and Bedtimes: Adjust your child’s sleeping schedule to match the childcare routine.

Practice Morning Rituals: Run through the morning activities, such as getting dressed and eating breakfast, for at least a couple of days.

Evening Preparations: Involve your child in selecting and packing their bag, laying out clothes, and discussing the next day's activities.


  • Confirm wake-up and bedtime that aligns with the daycare schedule.
  • Establish and practice a morning family routine.
  • Prepare clothes and a bag the night before.
  • Rehearse the drop-off and pick-up routine.
  • Include downtime in the routine to reflect on the day's experiences.

Communication with Educators and Teachers

Effective communication with educators and teachers is essential in establishing a partnership that benefits the child's well-being and development. Clear, open dialogue builds trust, ensures that your child's needs are met, and keeps you informed about their progress and any issues that may arise. It’s a collaborative effort that begins before the first day and continues throughout your child’s time in childcare.

Actionable Steps:

Share Important Information: Provide educators and teachers with all necessary details about your child's health, habits, likes, and dislikes.

Establish Contact Methods: Determine the best way to communicate with staff for daily updates and urgent matters.

Stay Engaged: Take the opportunity at drop-off and pick-up times to check in and exchange any notable information about your child's day.


  • Compile a list of your child's critical information for the educators and teachers.
  • Confirm contact details and preferred communication channels with the centre.
  • Plan for regular intervals to receive progress updates.
  • Engage in brief daily conversations for personal insights.

Health and Safety Preparations

Prioritising your child's health and safety is paramount as they enter a new childcare and early learning program. This preparation involves understanding the childcare centre's health policies, ensuring your child's immunisations are up-to-date, and communicating any medical concerns or allergies. By being proactive, you can help create a safe space for your child and peace of mind for yourself.


  • Confirm the centre’s illness policy and required child immunisations.
  • Schedule a doctor's visit for a pre-childcare health check-up and immunisation update if needed.
  • Provide the child care centre with a copy of your child's medical records and emergency contact information.
  • Discuss and document your child's health conditions or allergies with the staff, ensuring they understand how to manage them.
  • Prepare a health kit for your child if permitted, including items like prescription medication, sunscreen, and a hat for outdoor play.
  • Teach your child basic hygiene practices such as handwashing, using tissues, and the importance of not sharing personal items.
  • Familiarise yourself with the centre’s emergency evacuation procedures and make sure your child understands what to do in case of an emergency in an age-appropriate way.

On the First Day

The first day at daycare is a momentous occasion for any family. It marks the beginning of a new journey of growth and learning for your child. As the day dawns, emotions may run high, but with thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a smooth transition. This pivotal day is about creating positive experiences and memories while laying the groundwork for a routine that will soon become second nature.

What to Pack

Packing for the first day of childcare is about balancing the essentials with a few comforts from home. You want your child to have everything they need to be comfortable, safe, and ready to participate in all the activities of the day. Remember, overpacking can be just as overwhelming as forgetting something important, so it's essential to stick to the essentials.


  • A change of underwear or two for toilet-trained children.
  • Spare clothes in case of accidents or spills.
  • A comfort item, like a favourite stuffed toy or blanket, to help ease the transition.
  • Snacks and lunch if the centre does not provide meals, taking note of any dietary restrictions and allergen policies. At Emali Early Learning Centres, all meals and snacks are provided.
  • Any bottle supplies, like a drink bottle or a labelled water bottle or milk bottle, to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • A hat and a coat or sunscreen, depending on the weather, labelled with your child’s name.
  • Any medication your child requires, along with written instructions and consent forms for administration for the child care providers.

Goodbyes and Separation

Saying goodbye on the first day of childcare can be as challenging for parents as it is for children. It's a significant milestone that, despite its emotional weight, can be handled with grace and positivity. Preparing for this moment involves not just the child but the parent, too, as they set the tone for a child's adaptability and confidence.

Actionable Steps:

Practice Parting: Before the first day, practice short separation routines to help your child get used to being away from you.

Keep Goodbyes Consistent: Develop a goodbye ritual that's short and sweet. Consistency can provide comfort to your child.

Stay Positive: Even if you feel anxious, a confident demeanour can reassure your child that everything is okay.

Trust the Process: After a quick goodbye, it’s essential to leave promptly. Lingering can make this process a more challenging time for both of you.


  • Rehearse a confident goodbye routine to use daily.
  • Prepare a personal item for your child to hold onto if they need reassurance.
  • Discuss what will happen throughout the day to give your child a predictable schedule.
  • Remain upbeat and reassuring during the parting moment.
  • Plan for your own activities post-drop-off to manage your feelings about separation.
  • Trust the educators and teachers to contact you if there are any issues.

Handling the End of the Day

The conclusion of the first day of childcare is as significant as the beginning. It's a time to reconnect, reflect, and settle into the new normal. How parents handle the end of the day can significantly influence their child's perception of the childcare experience. It's essential to be present, celebrate the day's achievements, and prepare for the transition back home.

Actionable Steps:

Arrive on Time: Ensure you arrive on time to pick up your child, as waiting can increase their anxiety.

Stay Present: Give your child undivided attention when you arrive, showing interest in their day and acknowledging their feelings.

Celebrate the Day: Discuss what they enjoyed and learned, and celebrate this new milestone with your child.

Establish a Routine: Set a calm and reassuring routine for the end of the day, similar to your morning ritual, to help your child wind down.

Prepare for Feedback: Be ready to listen to any feedback from childcare personnel and discuss any observations or concerns they might have.

After the First Day

The initial day of daycare is behind you, but the adaptation journey continues. The following days are crucial for establishing a sustainable routine and helping your child adjust to their new schedule. This phase is all about reinforcement, patience, and fine-tuning the process.

Adjusting to the New Schedule

Adapting to a new schedule takes time and consistency. After the first day, children will begin to understand what to expect from their days, and parents can help by maintaining a structured approach at home.

Actionable Steps:

Consistent Routines: Keep morning and evening routines consistent to provide stability.

Observation: Pay attention to your child's moods and behaviours, adjusting bedtimes or wake-up times as needed.

Communication: Discuss the daily schedule with your child to reinforce predictability and security.


Effective communication with your child and their daycare providers is foundational to a successful childcare experience. Engage your child in conversations about their day to understand their experiences and feelings. Similarly, building relationships with your childhood educators ensures you are informed of your child’s progress and any areas needing attention.

Partnering with Caregivers

Building a collaborative partnership with the early childhood education team is critical to providing cohesive support and care. It’s about establishing trust, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to your child’s well-being and development. Regular check-ins and a proactive approach to discussing your child’s needs can foster a strong, positive relationship with the caregiving team.

Beyond the First Day: Our Commitment Continues

As you navigate the first steps of your child's childcare journey, remember that it's a growth path for both of you. Emali Early Learning Centre in Adelaide is here to support you through this transition. We understand the mixed emotions and challenges that come with these new beginnings. If you have questions, need guidance, or want to share your experiences, our doors—and hearts—are always open. Reach out to us anytime; we're more than just a family childcare centre; we're your partner in laying the foundations for your child's bright future.

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