Guardian Childcare & Education

Tips for Coping with Centre Changes

20th June 2017

Dealing with change

Children thrive on consistency and routine and most people are, by their very nature, not keen on change. But life happens. Children grow, families move, and educators switch jobs. So how do we help our children deal with changes to their early learning environment?

Changes at your early learning centre can summon anxiety in toddlers and should be managed with care and lots of support. These could include moving to a new centre, transitioning to a new room, the departure of a beloved educator, increased days or hours or even just a shift in daily routine.

Sure, teaching children flexibility ultimately leads to resilience and adaptability, but helping your child through a transition period is an important part of smoothing that passage.

Talk your child through the changes

Discuss exactly what will change and what your child might expect. Children accept changes to their routine better when they know what’s coming. Begin talks about a week in advance to give them enough time to process the adjustment without building things up over too long a period. Ask your child what’s bothering them about the change and try to address those specific issues. Make it into a two-way conversation where the child’s concerns are respected and listened to.

Help your child get excited about their new adventure

Just like your child’s first day of early learning, plan several visits to the new centre or room. If it’s a new carer, stay for a few extra minutes, talk positively, ask questions about the new person, and help your child get to know them.

“Evan, did you know that Miss Lynnette likes soccer? Why don’t you tell her about your soccer team?” This emphasises that change isn’t loss, it’s something new and exciting – something to enhance their experience.

Maintain consistency with a few security objects

Security objects, such as a favourite toy or comforter, can travel to a new centre or classroom to help your child transition to their surrounds. Having a few familiar things with them will help them cope with larger upheavals and show them that not everything is scary and different.

Avoid making changes to your child’s core routine while getting them used to a new arrangement

If your child is transitioning to a new centre or saying goodbye to a trusted carer, it’s probably not the best time to move them from a cot to a bed or begin the toilet training process. Although it might be tempting to make several leaps at once – hey, if they’re going to be anguished and unsettled you may as well knock over pacifiers, nappies, and breast milk while you’re at it – consistency is still important. One step at a time will allow your child to ease into each transition.

You can check out our guide to a successful drop-off, which will further help put your child at ease when you say goodbye.

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