Settling in visits are very important, not only for the child but also for you as parents. For some of you it might be the first time you are leaving your child and that in itself can be very traumatic.
I have worked in childcare for over 20 years and once you know your child is happy, safe, being cared for and having fun, you can go to work relaxed knowing they are okay.
I offer a 4 week settling-in period which can be extended if necessary. It is important that we feel confident that the child is coping in my care – as not every child settles and bonds with every child carer.
I offer at least 2 short settling in sessions with parents present so the child has time to get to know me, the other children and the provision.
I encourage parents to work out a ‘leaving routine’ which you can follow every morning. Some parents might want to dash back for ‘one more kiss’ or ‘one more hug’ I will work with you to make sure the settling in process is working.
Bring your child a comforter something which reminds them of home and you, I used to spray my perfume on Molly’s bear every time she cuddled it she could smell me.
I will work very closely with parents – email, text or phone you to keep you updated through the session as this will reassure you that your child is happy and settled. I will ask parents what your favoured method of communication is and follow your wishes.
Hugs and cuddles are vital during the early settling in period to help your child form attachments with me. I will hug and cuddle them as much as they need so they feel safe, loved and ready to have fun, I will offer activities they might want to do that I know they enjoy, they can sit nearby and read a story or sing a song. I want each child to feel, safe, loved and happy in my care.
I want to prepare parents for a possible regression of toileting and other independence skills, especially if starting with me also coincides with other transitions in the child’s life such as a house move or a new sibling. I will support parents and the child as much as possible by providing lots of opportunities for developing independence and self help skills and offering praise for trying as well as succeeding.
On our first initial visit I will ask lots of questions about your child so I know the child well before they start with me.
What happens if my child fails to settle?
If a child is failing to settle, I will offer a home visit and watch how they play and interact with parents and siblings at home. This can give me a powerful insight into how they might be supported when they first arrive. For example, some families always have the television on in the background or listen to the radio and the child might be missing this noise and will settle much better if they watch a short programme first.
There is no quick fix for children who are struggling to settle in and we may need to work closely together for quite a while to support the transition. However, children will normally settle eventually if they are given lots of support and if everyone is patient and allows them to express the emotions they need to share.
If a child is continuing to fail to settle, I will be honest with parents. We can either extend the settling-in period or, if I am very concerned about the child’s wellbeing, I might suggest to parents that their child might be better in a different setting and give notice.
This is not an ‘easy option’ but it can sometimes be the best outcome for the child.
Working with parents is key and the more information you can give me on your child the better they will settle.