Moving from home care to care away from home can be intimidating to both children and parents. Parents can do so much to help with transitions from home to out of home care, even in COVID times. Here is my top tip to parents: Children normalize whatever the trusted adults in their world show them is the norm. It can be dancing in the kitchen every morning, praying before each meal, sticking to a strict schedule; whatever adults normalize around them, most children will also. Below are tips I give to all parents.
1) COVID tip: Start wearing masks together for a short period of time using a timer (on the phone, or microwave, a visual timer is always a great tool) aim for 30-60 seconds to start and when the timer goes off celebrate your child keeping their mask on with you! If doing this with a special needs child you can always incorporate a primary reinforcer like a gummy or a couple of goldfish crackers. Add time in small increments and celebrate every little victory. As they get more and more used to wearing the mask you can begin to fade back the rewards but continue with words of praise and high fives, fist bumps or however you choose to positively reinforce your child's compliance with mask wearing while it is required.
2) Sights and sounds. Familiar sights and sounds that you can incorporate into your child's routine now will help them transition later. If your child is used to an all blacked out room and no noise they will have a hard time napping while in care away from home. Try matching the lightning level and napping music of care facility as soon as possible. Doing this before care starts will help your child feel more at home as they will be able to see and hear elements of their home life at their learning and care facility.
3) Music Link below to what we use at Animated Child:
4) Show your child pictures and videos of where they are going so they can recall the images with the space they are physically in when dropped off for care.
5) Talk to your child about where they are going and how they will stay and do certain daily activities (list specifically 3-4) and when they get dropped off remind them that they will do ____ and then you will be back for them. Children cannot tell time but they will learn that they will be picked up after ____ activity.
6) Children understand more than what they are given credit for, don't underestimate them and don't over complicate simple parts of their day. Drop-off is drop-off not a million goodbyes and tears. Don't reinforce fears, acknowledge feelings and let them know they are safe and you'll be back; then leave and come back at pick-up time.
7) It helps to always have the same drop-off and pick-up times to build routine, confidence and give children some control of their scheduled out days. It also helps to make changes to schedules. The world is an ever evolving place and it will not stop rotating for anyone, no matter how cute they are.
Hope this helps!