Why is kindergarten usually half a day
Supervision: This is how you get used to the crèche
Day nursery - a new phase in life
When children come to the crèche, they are faced with many new situations. There are new caregivers, new rooms and many unknown children. It goes without saying that the little ones find it difficult to get used to the strange situation, especially at the beginning. But age also plays a decisive role: crèche children are between two months and three years old. There are of course big differences. Parents online spoke to Sabine Kowatsch, educator and certified psychologist. She knows the parents' fears and worries all too well and knows how to get used to them.
How does the acclimatization work in the day nursery?
Our acclimatization proceeds according to the idea of the Berlin model: here we try step by step to get the child used to the new situation and above all to a new caregiver. One also speaks of a gradual acclimatization. Newcomers start their day-to-day nursery routine at least 14 days apart. The first contact between the day nursery and parents is the familiarization talk on the first day. The focus here is on the child and his or her needs: We try to find out as much as possible about the child and his or her interests, preferences and habits. The more we know about the child, the better it is for acclimatization. Are there any sleeping problems? Does it have siblings? How did the pregnancy go? If problems arise during the acclimatization phase, the best way to solve them is to know and understand the child well.
What happens after the familiarization interview?
During the first three to four days, one parent comes to the facility with the child. Both stay there for about half an hour to a full hour. It is very important that there is no attempt at separation during this time. The children should slowly get used to the new environment. The presence of the parent gives them confidence. The parents should behave as inconspicuously as possible and give their child the opportunity to explore the new situation on their own. If the child comes to the mother, it is important that she signals: I am there for you. In each group there is a specific caregiver for the children who deals intensively with the respective protégés during the acclimatization phase. If the child approaches this caregiver by itself, he or she accepts the attempt at contact and offers the child an opportunity to play. The educator observes the interaction between parents and child, but does not approach the child actively. It is important to wait for the reaction of mother and child: We definitely do not want to make the parents feel that we are taking their child away from them, but rather wait until the parents hand over their child to us.
When is the first farewell?
On the fourth or fifth day we try to separate the children from their parents for the first time. It is very important that the parents say goodbye directly to their child - even if the first breakups usually only last a few minutes. Many would like to sneak away in an unnoticed moment - and avoid saying goodbye themselves. But it is important for the child to say: "I'll go now and pick you up later!". In addition, parents should leave the crib with their child immediately if they see him again after the separation. Thus, the child understands that the appearance of the parent means that they will now be picked up and brought home. If that works out well, the separation period is always slightly extended. The child's reaction is decisive for the further course of the acclimatization process: If the child has gained so much trust in its caregiver in the group that it can be comforted by her, the separation time can be extended further. Then mom or dad can stay away for 30 minutes, have a coffee in the next room or take a short walk in the area. If it goes well, the care time is extended further and further: until lunch, until after the afternoon nap, until lunch and at the end - usually after about two weeks - until the care time actually booked.
What if the child can separate easily from the mother?
In the stabilization phase, the teacher tries more and more to take care of the child: feeding, changing and playing. Even if the child can easily separate from the mother, the mother should remain in the crib so that she can be brought in in an emergency. At the end of the settling-in period, this is no longer necessary, but one of the parents should be available by phone at any time if the relationship with the educator is not enough to calm the child down.
How long does it take to get used to it?
Parents should definitely take two to four weeks to accompany their child during the acclimatization process. It is important that they are really available for their child during this time and, in case of doubt, can also come to the day nursery. For 80 percent of the children, it takes about 14 days to get used to it. However, this does not mean that this is then completely completed. If the children separate from their parents reasonably well, the acclimatization continues in the group. At the beginning, the daycare newbies concentrate only on their caregivers, but should also build trust in the other educators over the course of the first three months. The day care center is often open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the teachers work in different shifts. This means that the reference educator is always present during the acclimatization phase, but cannot always be there during the day-to-day routine of the day-care center. It must be possible to hand over the children to all three teachers. In addition, toddlers are slow to accept changes: getting used to the daycare is a huge step for them. That's why we try to stay in the group rooms with our newcomers. A spatial change is still too much for the newcomers at the beginning. It usually takes three months for a child to get used to the routine and the rituals in the crib. Only then is the child really used to it.
The biggest problem for the parents is the separation at the group door. What is the best way to keep tears from flowing?
We don't try to keep the children from crying. Many are still small and cannot express themselves otherwise. When the parent leaves, many children respond with tears because they are unfamiliar with it. Crying means nothing more than "I don't like it!". Many parents' hearts bleed when their children start to cry - understandably, because they trust us with the most valuable thing they have. But tears do not mean that the acclimatization was unsuccessful. If a child protests against saying goodbye to the parent - with or without tears - that's perfectly okay, because it shows attachment behavior. However, the trust in the teacher should be so great that the child can be comforted by her afterwards and can accept the range of games in the group.
Are there different concepts for acclimatization?
In addition to the Berlin model, there is also the Munich model. Both concepts are very similar in my opinion. The Munich model advocates more time and not just an exclusive focus on the relationship between the child and the caregiver. Basically, however, I think that both concepts are completely in order and it doesn't matter which variant a daycare center chooses. The main thing is that the nursery really works according to a fixed plan when it comes to settling in.
Is there an age when the little ones get used to the best?
Most children start daycare between nine months and twenty months of age. This is exactly the age at which toddlers develop a sense of attachment. Now they are starting to react emotionally to breakups with caregivers. Accordingly, babies' acclimatization is of course less problematic because they are not yet afraid of separation. Here, however, it is often more difficult for mothers to hand their children over to someone else's hands for the first time. In the end, however, many are amazed at how easily their baby gets used to the new situation. This can sometimes go so far that there is a certain degree of frustration on the part of the mothers at the unemotional handover to daycare. In the case of children who are accustomed to very early on, there is sometimes a delayed phase of foreign exchange months later. The children then react like completely new accustomed children, even though they have been with us for months: Only now have they realized that their parents will not stay in the crèche. However, experience has shown that this phase is over quickly. If, on the other hand, we accustom older children from the age of two to the crèche, things look completely different. At this age, the little ones have just made a great mental leap in development: They can now distinguish between "I" and "You" and estimate and take into account subsequent reactions to actions. So you know: if I cry really hard, mom will come back! So they try to control the interaction and weep consciously, sometimes theatrically, because they want the parents to come back. At this age, it is particularly important to carefully observe the child's separation behavior and to assess which phase of development the child is actually in. For a successful acclimatization, it can sometimes be important to show the children that tears do not bring their parents back. The correct assessment of the child in this age group is not always easy and requires experience. As a crèche psychologist, I occasionally come into play and share my views with the team.
What if babies are still breastfed?
This is not a problem! We have a few mothers who work for companies in the immediate area. They just come to the nursery for breastfeeding. But we also support mothers who express milk. In principle, especially with children under one year of age, parents can decide for themselves what the children should eat. Parents prefer different foods due to possible allergies. If you want to bring your own glasses, you are of course welcome to do so. However, children older than a year should eat together with the group - and usually want to. If there's something on the table, it's more interesting than what mom gave. We try to explain that to the parents. By the way, eating in the day care center is one of the last activities the children start. Many daycare beginners eat very late with the other children: for many people, eating is something very personal. Accordingly, the newcomers only start when they are really comfortable.
What does the daycare center have to consider when settling in?
Since the children have different caregivers in the group, this must be taken into account in the duty roster. The teachers within a team must also coordinate well. When a new child arrives, the caregiver needs to be present and have time to attend to the newcomer. But there should also be enough time for the handover talks in the morning from the parents to the crèche and in the afternoon from the crèche to the parents: How did the child sleep overnight? Were there any problems in the crib? What did it eat? The more the educators know about the current emotional state of the children, the better they can respond to the child. And it is also important for parents to find out what their child has been up to during the day. For the children who have been with us a little longer, getting used to a new child also means that we cannot go outside spontaneously or that the walk has to be postponed to the afternoon for the first time. Because every further change unsettles the children and should therefore be avoided for the time being.
What is the best way to get used to it?
The emotional state of the parents during the acclimatization is very important. Because this is automatically and unconsciously transferred to the child. If the parents are unsure or not satisfied with something, the children do not feel comfortable either. It is therefore very important that the parents know exactly how the acclimatization process works, what we are planning and what their task is. It is also urgently necessary that the parents keep the four weeks completely free and can concentrate on the acclimatization. Because you cannot force getting used to the crèche and, above all, you cannot manage it under time pressure. When the parents are stressed, the children notice it immediately. In addition, parents should not expect their children to make any further changes such as moving during this time. It is also not really beneficial if the child comes to us in the crèche for four weeks, but the family then goes on vacation for two weeks. In addition, the newcomer to the nursery should be constantly accompanied by a reference person. Whenever dad, mom or grandma get used to it, it is always a new and unfamiliar situation for the child.
How are the parents supported during the acclimatization?
In the first days of acclimatization, the parents of the new crèche children often sit in the next room. We then offer them a coffee, chat with them and try to distract them. It helps many parents if they learn how the acclimatization works on parents' evening. The familiarization interview also helps to get to know each other better and to build trust. In order to dispel further fears and worries, parents can make a first-person book for their children with us. Photos of grandma and grandpa, mom and dad and siblings can be glued in there. Other parents write down memories or dear verses, sometimes there are also profiles of the children or a self-painted picture of their favorite teddy is drawn. We laminate the pages and put together a small book for each child, which is then displayed in the group for them. This often helps when a little homesickness arises - and the parents have the feeling that they are giving their children something personal for their day-to-day day care centers. We see ourselves in an educational partnership with the parents - the mutual exchange is the most important thing for our work.
Which children find it particularly easy to get used to?
Above all, these are the children of parents who take a calm and optimistic approach to acclimatization. But also children who were often looked after by their grandparents or the babysitter before they started their daycare center are more sensitive to the new situation. In other words: the parents already know the separation situation and are accordingly more relaxed. Even children who have big siblings sometimes get used to the crèche more quickly. They have already picked up their older siblings there, see that their brother or sister feels comfortable there, and the parents also know that their children are in good hands in the daycare center.
Do rituals help?
The whole day-to-day life in the crib is a single ritual. In the morning we start with the morning circle, then there is breakfast, then we play, sometime in the morning the whole group goes to the baby changing room, then we clean up, then there is lunch and so on. Everything is always accompanied by specific songs or verses. After lunch, changing diapers and brushing their teeth, the children lie down in the bedroom for an afternoon nap. And they know: "When I wake up there will be a snack and then mom will pick me up again". Clear processes are important for the children and help them get through the day. The morning circle is particularly popular with us: at nine o'clock we sit down in groups and start the day together. We have already seen that children were very angry and sad when they missed this ritual. That is why we want parents to leave their children with us by shortly before nine o'clock.
Are there children for whom it is particularly difficult?
In my opinion, every child is suitable for care in a day nursery. If it doesn't work out that well, then the parents are probably not really behind it. A conversation often helps to clarify what exactly is so difficult for the parents and we always come to a solution together. Children like to play in groups, are curious and ready to act independently. All of this is supported and encouraged in a day nursery.
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