A careful settling in period is important to ensure that the child develops a strong emotional bond to the educator while the child’s caregiver is still present. We aim to give the child a sense of safety and emotional security. These constitute the basis for a successful kindergarten start. The children can ease into their new routine, rules, rituals, rooms and familiarize themselves with the people in their kindergarten at their own pace.
Preparing the settling in period
Prior to the settling –in period, we have a meeting with the child’s guardian to talk about the process. In this meeting, the guardians are informed about which educator is in charge of their child’s settling in period, explain the importance of the presence of the child’s guardian and describe the daily routine during the settling-in period. The educator and the guardian will also exchange detailed information about the child’s developmental level, eating habits, favorite toys, allergies and/or illnesses, etc. We also support the guardian in dealing with the new situation that they and face with their child. For a gentle settling-in process, parents should schedule 2 to 4 weeks.
The role of the educator in the settling-in period
In the beginning, the educator will observe the child and its guardian, in order to find out how confident the child is feeling. Then the educator will carefully make contact with the child by offering a possiblitily to engage in play together. This way the educator can get to know the child and the child gets to know the educator. The child realizes that this is the adult, who will be there for him or her at kindergarten. During this process, communication between guardians and the educators is vital, because the child may behave very differently at kindergarten then at home.
Settling into a new environment
The children are confronted with numerous new, and interesting impressions, which may be overwhelming. Suddenly, they find themselves in large rooms that are set up specifically for children, new play materials, new adults, new children and so much more. This may make your child curious but also shy and hesitant. Therefore we proceed carefully when guiding the child through this transition. In the beginning, the child and the guardian spend one to two hours in the kindergarten together. The educator attempts carefully to make contact with the child and build up trust by making play offers. Separation attempts are conducted based on how the child responds to this new environment.
We help the child to build a trusting relationship to the educator by responding to its signals, needs and emotions as well as providing the child with space while providing assistance when needed. Generally, the guardian takes care of changing the child in the beginning.
The new Play Environment
New play equipment stimulates the interest of the child and encourage the child to become actively involved. We provide appropriate materials for all age and developmental levels. Nevertheless it is important for many children to bring an object that it feels emotionally connected to such as a doll, toy or a stuffed animal. This object can provide a sense of safety when the parents are not in the room.
The New Daily Routine
As the child spends longer periods of time in the kindergarten, he or she gets to know the new routine step by step. The consistent routine is important for the child in order to develop trust and give the child the sense that he or she knows what is happening next.
Reflection at the End of the Settling-in Period
At the end of the settling-in period, the educator meets with the parents to share information about how the child is managing his or her day at kindergarten. The parents find out how the child behaves when the parents are absent, how he or she plays and eats. At the end, the parents can share their wishes or goals regarding their child.
After about half a year, the parents are given a questionnaire, on which they can indicate whether they were happy with their child’s settling-in period.