Parents can never provide too much information about their child to their educators, according to Thornlie Early Learning Centre Manager Leah Mizen.
Afterall, it is the details parents provide about their child’s preferences and personalities that make settling that child in to child care a much smoother process.
Leah loves seeing babies and young children attend centre tours with their parents.
“That’s their first introduction to a centre, so when they come back for their first orientation visit, they already have a small memory of the place,” she said.
Orientation visits provide little ones and their parents a transition into child care, something Leah believes is very important.
“It’s not just about transitioning the children to child care but also for first-time parents, they often need the transition too, so they can actually see how the day runs,” she said.
“As a parent I think on the tour when they first walk through, they just want to see if the place is clean and if it’s comfortable, those sorts of things, but when they sit in the environment and spend a little time, they get to see how things operate in practice.”
A visit generally lasts about an hour and parents or carers get to spend time with their child in their room with their child’s educators.
“It’s a really easy way to see where their child will be spending their time and it’s a relaxed way for the parents to chat to the educators and see them interacting with your child and the other children at the centre,” Leah said.
During the visit, the child gets to simply play or join in on activities that may be happening.
It is also a great opportunity for the educators to get to know the child’s individual routine and a little more about them.
“We will ask, ‘how do you like to put your child to sleep’ and ‘what types of things do you like to do with your child’. We want to know what works for them, because what matters to you, matters to us, that’s the perfect slogan because it’s true,” Leah said.
“There is no point us trying to rock little Johnny to sleep in our arms if he doesn’t like being held or rocked in that way. It’s not familiar to him, so taking that personalised approach is good for the child and good for us as well.”
While specifics are recorded as part of the child’s enrolment, it’s an opportunity for parents to discuss things such as sleep, bottles, food and the kinds of activities their child likes.
“Sometimes when parents give me information about their child they apologise, as if they think it might be too much but I’m like no, no, no, the more information, the better!”
Most people do one or two orientation visits with their child but if parents feel they need more than that, MercyCare centres are always happy to schedule additional ones.
Leah said the visits help give the parent and educators an idea how the child may transition into our centre when their parents say their goodbyes.
“On the second orientation, I often take the opportunity to chat to the parent outside of the room for five or so minutes and that gives us and the parents a chance to gauge how the child will go without mum or dad in the room,” she said.
Leah said every child responds to the new environment differently and their reaction to child care could be different depending on their age and stage of development.
Some MercyCare ELCs offer half day bookings, which can be handy for those who would like to introduce their child into care with shorter days. They are also happy to have mothers come to the centres to breastfeed if that is something they want to do.
“As an educator and a parent, I want the parents to understand that we know it is a huge thing to trust people outside of your immediate family to care for your children. At the beginning we might be a stranger but we quickly build a relationship,” Leah said
“I think once you finally get settled and you see your child happily go off with one of the educators, it just feels so amazing and not just because they’ve transitioned well, but I know that my child has built a trusting relationship , it’s really special.”