In many cases, your child’s first significant relationship with someone outside of your family or the babysitter is likely to be with their external care providers at day school or child care centre.
That’s why it’s so important for them that you work hard on building relationships with early childhood educators.
The criticality of building relationships with early childhood educators
All responsible parents will have taken considerable trouble to investigate and assess an early childhood education establishment long before they entrust their children into its care.
That’s right and proper but of course, your child will know nothing of that process.
What they will see and sense is how you interact with the personnel at your chosen establishment. The sensitivity of children to minute indications of parental stress, doubt or reservation, is well documented. So, if you don’t have a great relationship with your centre and its team, your child may well sense that and react with reserve and possibly even fear themselves.
Perhaps the single most important aspect of this is time.
Before you place your child into such a centre, it’s a really great idea to go along and spend some joint time with them there – perhaps 2 or 3 times before the start date. Different institutions may have different opportunities for that but you can observe your child playing with others or perhaps helping out a little.
Either way, you’ll start to get to know the people and build relationships with them. Most importantly, your child will see you start to relax and get involved, then they’ll begin to think of things as ‘normal’.
It’s also really important to find the time to spend a few minutes fairly regularly to chat with the people. Busy diaries are always a problem but do try because communication will be so important to you in terms of building and maintaining healthy relationships.
Most education providers will welcome this.
Raise any questions immediately
Young children can sometimes say the most extraordinary things, due to a combination of their imaginations being so active and/ornot always fully understanding what has been said to them.
So, if your child has said “today the teachers started fighting in class” you might be inclined to dismiss it instantly but do always ask questions of the personnel the next day. Some of these instances have hilarious explanations (though many are often inexplicable) but talking about them will stop you having nagging and unnecessary doubts.
Tell the centre and its people about your child in advance
Every single human, including tiny ones, are individuals with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Early childhood educators will have had training in how to interpret a child’s behaviours and to react accordingly. Even so, spending some time briefing the educators about your child’s unique personality plus their likes and dislikes, will make their job so much easier.
While you’re having that discussion, you’ll also see the degree of commitment that exists in the people you’re entrusting your child’s care to and that will be reassuring.
Don’t sit on doubts and problems
There may be very rare times when you have cause to be concerned over something that has happened. An example might be if your child’s bag or coat has seemingly vanished.
Never keep such concerns to yourself. Instead, discuss them at the first opportunity with the people or their director. All professionals would be much happier hearing any such issues sooner rather than later and they won’t take offence if you ask for explanations and sometimes research.
This is all about the strength of the relationship you should already have established with them and problems, perceived or real, can usually be immediately resolved where that trust is in place.