By Emma Thomas

The start of the year brings new beginnings for many families! This could be starting in a new room, at a new centre or even starting care for the first time. It’s an exciting time but can also be challenging or a little overwhelming. After many years working with families here are some of our top tips. 

Orientation Program

We love our orientation program, it’s a great way for new families to get to  know us and the environment. During our ‘stay and play’ visits children spend time in their new rooms, getting to know their educators and meeting other children. It’s a great idea to take photos during your visits and then look back on these before your child starts! You can talk about the fun things they will do and become familiar with the educators. 

Preparation is key!

Everyone will feel more comfortable on the first day if you are well prepared. Make sure you know what is needed for your room. We provide meals, nappies and sunscreen. Make sure you bring an easily identifiable water bottle, hat and plenty of spare clothes. Choosing and packing a special bag can be a helpful preparation step for many children. 

A play wardrobe

Play is a messy business! We don’t want children to feel restricted so please send them in play clothes. Clothes that they can move easily in and that can get dirty! Accept second hand clothes from friends, check out a local op shop or designate specific clothes for childcare. Consider shoes which are easy for your child to put on and off – we value our connection with nature through shoe free time!

Short days

Some children benefit from starting with shorter days. Especially if your child hasn’t spent time away from you before. You can start with the morning and then increase the day length over a couple of weeks. This can be particularly helpful for younger children who might struggle with eating or sleeping in a new environment. 

Label, label, label

If you want it to come back home, put a label on it. This includes bags, shoes, socks, all items of clothing, water bottles, hats and special toys! With lots of children in a room it is easy for things to get mixed up and wind up going home with the wrong family. When items are labelled it’s easy for us to return them to you! Especially as children get older and become more responsible and independent we want to support them to manage their own belongings. 

Something familiar

Help your child to choose something meaningful to take with them. This could be a family photo, a special soft toy or a cuddle blankie. When children are beginning something new we want to help them build lots of bridges between home and care. 

There will be tears 

For most children, starting new things is challenging and there will be times of sadness. Usually if we allow children to express their feelings then they are able to move on and enjoy themselves. For some children this will be a longer process and it will take them some time to build relationships and feel secure. 

Here are some things you can do to help. 

  • Create a consistent drop off routine. Use the same language and routine each day. ‘When we arrive I’ll help you put your bag away and then we will find Miss Nat or Miss Ella. I’ll give you a big squeezy hug and then say goodbye. I will back back at afternoon tea time.’ 
  • Even for pre-verbal children it is still helpful to talk through the routine of the morning. 
  • Make a plan with the educators for how your child prefers to say goodbye, maybe a snuggle by the bags or a high five over the fence! 
  • Don’t sneak away – it can be easy to want to leave while your child is engaged and happy, but make sure you always say goodbye! It is important for young children to have the time to work through their emotions, including sadness. 


Find out what your centre does and join in! Read the learning updates which are sent, send in photos of what your family has been doing or provide resources to help further the children’s interests. If you have a special skill or would like to share about your cultural background this can be a special way to contribute to the group learning. 

Accept the Sickness

When children start care or move centres they tend to pick up every sickness that is going around! You can do your best to support their immune systems with healthy food, plenty of water and sleep. We also encourage you to wash hands on arrival and departure. However for most children it will just take some time for them to build up their immunity – so make sure you have a plan for sick days (and that we can contact you when needed). 

Talk to us

We may look busy but we’ve always got time to talk to you about how your child is doing. We encourage you to start by talking to the educators in your child’s room and then reaching out to management if needed. We love hearing what your child enjoys about our service and also any ways that we can improve.