Settling-in sessions - why they're so important for 0-5 year olds
Starting with a new childcare provider is daunting, as a childminder and a parent I understand just how tough this period of time can be. It might be the first time that your child has ever been away from you (their parents/carers) or if they are used to spending time with other people it may be the first time that they are in a larger group or visiting a new type of environment.
The reason why settling-in sessions are so important is because children get a chance to know the setting and their new childminder, all whilst their parents are present hence they are able to feel secure whilst forming an bond with their new carer.
5 Step Settling-in Process
Penny Tassoni - an education consultant, author and trainer who specialises in the whole spectrum of learning and play advises that the following 5 step process is used:
The child will play with the childminder in the childminder's setting, whilst their parent/carer is playing alongside both their child and childminder. After a while, their parent/carer will disengage from the activity but will still be present.
The child will play with their childminder alongside their parent/carer. Th parent will then move away slightly to pick something up e.g. a book/magazine.
The child will play with their childminder alongside their parent/carer at first. Their parent/carer will then stroll in and out of sight e.g. getting something from a cupboard.
The child will play with their childminder and their parent/carer will pop in and our of the room to collect an object e.g. a sticker for their child. The parent/carer will confidently tell their child that they are going to do this and then go for out for a 1 minute absence
Step 5 is the same as step 4 but with the length of time increasing gradually until the parent/carer is out of the room for up to 20 minutes. Eventually the length of time will be built up until the child is attending a full session.
The above 5 step process is the process which I use in my setting. Every childminder is different however so they may use a different settling-in process. I feel the above process is a gentle approach to transition. If a child has been with a childminder or attending a nursery prior to my setting the first 4-5 steps can normally combined on the first session, with potentially only one more session being required prior to starting full time at River Sea Childcare.
During the settling-in period I will work towards finding out:
Your child’s likes and dislikes
Their usual routine, especially if they are welcoming a baby
Whether they have attended childcare before, are attending any other childcare settings, or are used to being left with other people
Their favourite activities, toys or books
Whether your child has any additional needs, disabilities or developmental concerns that needs to be taken into account
Who, apart from the parents/carers, may be picking your child up from the setting.
Greeting and saying goodbye to your child:
During the settling-in period it is essential that parents/carers say goodbye in a calm and brief manner, and tell their child when they will be back. I will always confidently greet and say goodbye to babies and children too. Your child might like to keep a favourite toy or cuddly with them to begin with as a transitional object.