Time flies when your infant suddenly reaches toddlerhood. If your child is transitioning to a playgroup from an infant care centre in Singapore, do not wait until the last week to prepare him or her for the change.
With more students, different meal times and nap time, less milk bottle feedings, new teachers and a whole new surrounding, there is a lot that your little one has to get used to.
It is best to start early and adopt these five easy tactics to help facilitate a smooth and happy infant care-to-playgroup journey.
Visit the playgroup centre before your child officially starts school
Be mindful that when you talk to your child about the “new school,” he or she might have trouble picturing what it is like, which could increase anxiety. Think about it: If you were starting a new job, wouldn’t you want to know what your new office would look like?
If it’s possible, visit the new child care centre with your child a few weeks before he or she officially starts – this gives him or her the opportunity to meet the teachers. Point out highlights in the new surroundings such as the cool facilities or colourful art on the wall, etc.
Before your child can look forward to starting “new school,” he or she must be able to make sense of the situation first. Getting an advanced tour of the new playgroup setting can help with that.
Prepare for a larger teacher-child ratio
The teacher-child ratio for infant care centres in Singapore set by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is 1:5. At MindChamps Infant Care, the ratio is 1:3. In comparison, class sizes are larger in playgroup with ECDA’s ratio of 1:8, and MindChamps PreSchool’s ratio of 1:6.
Caring, qualified teachers will strive to provide individual care to each student no matter the preschool group. However, the larger teacher-child ratio may take some getting used to for a child who has grown accustomed to around-the-clock, one-on-one care in an infant care centre in Singapore.
On the upside, there are more friends to play with in playgroup. But as some kids may feel overwhelmed or nervous adjusting to so many new faces, prepare your little one by practising some phrases to say when he or she needs help. Talk to your child about the teachers often, so that he or she feels comfortable approaching them amidst the classroom bustle.
For instance, you could repeatedly run through some scenarios with your little one on what to say or do if he/she needs to go to the toilet, wants water or a second helping of food, doesn’t understand something, etc. You might be surprised by how much an 18-month-old can retain when you consistently practice with them.
Consider the mealtimes in playgroup versus infant care centre in Singapore
Most timetables at infant care centres in Singapore include two nap times. Once in playgroup, kids usually get one nap session. In addition, mealtimes may vary and milk feedings tend to lessen as well. One of the ways to prepare for this transition is to encourage your toddler to take more solid foods well before joining playgroup. Weaning off milk takes time.
Get familiar with the playgroup curriculum
To help your toddler transition well in school, it is essential that you know what they are encountering daily in the classroom. Typically, infant care centres in Singapore provide logbooks to inform parents of their children’s activities, milk bottle intake, bowel movement and diaper changes for the day.
At MindChamps Infant Care, the S.M.I.L.E.S™ Daily Evaluation keeps parents posted on their babies’ individual progress, the specific sensory skills they engaged in, as well as the educators’ acute observations.
However, once in preschool, the daily assessments and semi-individualised approach in an infant care centre are replaced, and children graduate to following a set curriculum in playgroup.
One way to facilitate your child’s transition is to role play some of the activities in playgroup, (e.g. sitting down to eat meals, going to the playground, and singing and dancing together). To stay abreast of your child’s development, familiarise yourself with his or her new curriculum and timetable activities, and maintain open communication with the teachers on your child’s progress.
Read books that depict a similar situation
Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney encourages homesick kids with playgroup jitters to see the silver lining and fun in making new friends, while Corduroy Goes to School by Donn Freeman and B.G. Hennessy is a delightful lift-the-flap book that depicts all the exciting, new discoveries to be had in class. Other stories about kids starting child care include Yoyo Goes to Playgroup by Jeanette Rowe and Adam’s Daycare by Julie Ovenell-Carter.
Kids tend to feel less anxious and alone when they hear about characters struggling with similar experiences (and eventually overcoming those struggles). A light-hearted story like “Spot Goes to School” can be helpful. There is a video of it below, if you would like to take a look.
Written by Jenny Tai