Deconfinement : returning to daycare
The closure of daycare centres happened quickly and without notice. It most certainly led to major changes and adjustments to your family life and without a doubt, to settling in to new habits for everyone in the family. With the gradual return to the new “ normal ” and the re-opening of daycare centres, it is possible that this return may be seen as once again another adjustment, a new routine to introduce to your child.
To get your child ready to return to daycare keep in mind that children do not have the same notion of time as adults do, and that they mainly live in the present moment. Letting your child know about their return to daycare a few days prior to their first day back is sufficient. If you think it may be helpful, you can try using a visual cue to talk about their return, for example, marking the day on the calendar with a pictogram. In simple terms, tell them they are going back to daycare and speak positively about their return to get them excited about seeing their childhood educators and their friends. Remind them of the fun activities they would play at daycare.
Of course, the return to daycare will be accompanied by a slew of new safety and hygiene rules, which will change your child's habits and routine at the daycare centre. Before their first day back, you can find out from management what changes will be made and what procedures will need to be followed. Once you know what changes are to be expected, you can discuss them with your child in order to prepare them for these new safety measures such as more frequent hand washing, wearing a mask or social distancing. Introduce these measures in a concrete and positive way. Rather than saying, " Unfortunately, now I won't be able to accompany you to your classroom ” tell them, " Now, when I drive you to daycare, I'll stay at the entrance and an educator will accompany you to your classroom, where your educator, Julie, will be waiting for you. »
To make it easier to get back into your routine in the days leading up to your child’s return to daycare, you can gradually change your family habits, such as getting your child up at the same time as when they used to go to daycare and adapting meal times.
Even if your child enjoyed daycare, they may prefer to spend their days at home with you and may not want to go back. If the return seems difficult, you may want to try to take the same steps as when your child was first integrated into daycare. For example, you can give them a transitional object such as a plush toy that they like or a small album containing a few family photos. Tell them that they can use it to comfort themselves if they feel the need. In some cases, depending on your child's age and personality, a gradual return can also be an interesting solution. This may include shorter days that are gradually lengthened, or shortened weeks. If you are considering this option, it would be a good idea to discuss it first with your child's educator.
Because each child is unique, there is no universal rule. The most important thing is to remain attentive to your child's needs. Give yourself the opportunity to adjust and make changes as you go along. Again, communicating with your child’s educator will be paramount.
We are living in exceptional times. That is why it is normal to question the potential consequences of all these changes. Obviously, this is new for everyone, and we cannot know exactly what impact these measures will have on children. However, what we do know is that children have an amazing ability to adapt. We have to trust them. It is also known that quality child care centres contribute positively to children's social, emotional, motor, cognitive and language development. Finally, children can easily feel our stress, so the more comfortable we feel with our child's return to daycare, the greater the chances that it will go well.
Because we know that children are sensitive to the emotions of others and are at the stage where they are learning to decode facial expressions, the wearing of masks by educators can indeed be a cause for concern. But in today's context, it is an essential protective measure that we must deal with. A good way to prepare our children is to familiarize them with this new reality. We can show them a mask, let them play with it and wear it, and even put it on their stuffed animals. We can also put one on and ask them to guess our expression, for example, if we smile, if we are sad or angry. Finally, it is important to remember that educators will be attentive to your child's reactions to this new reality and will certainly take steps to reassure them.
In closing, keep in mind that children have the ability to adapt and that daycare can be beneficial to their development. Take the time to prepare them well by talking with them. Answering their questions will help the whole family facilitate the reintegration process.