The first time your child goes to day care, it might take time for him to get used to the new environment, the other children, teachers and rules. Before your child begins day care, ask the director or your child’s teacher what the rules are for his particular class. Although some rules are specific for each room, some basic ones apply to all. Teach those rules to your child in the days leading up to his first day and the adjustment period should go more smoothly.
One phrase that day-care teachers say often is, “Walking feet.” Running outside on the playground when it’s not icy or slippery is fine, but inside the classroom is dangerous. Furniture, toys, works, teachers and other children all share one room. Running can cause injury to your child running and others. Inside voices are used to keep the noise level down in a classroom, which helps children learn and to remain calm.
Teachers will phrase “Don’t hit/punch/pinch/slap …” as “Keep your hands to yourself,” or “Hands are for hugging.” There are variants on this rule, but the idea is for children to learn to control their bodies when their emotions are running high. “Use your words” is another popular rule in day cares. This piggybacks on “Hands are for hugging” idea. When a child can verbalize why she is upset, she is less likely to physically harm herself or others. Teachers can help children develop the language to say, “I don’t like that. Stop.”
In a day care, where often only one or two of something is available, children must learn to take turns. Patience is a skill that children must develop in a day care. They wait to get their food for lunch, for their turn with a toy, for their turn to speak and to choose a book for the teacher to read.
“Put your listening ears on” is heard throughout almost every day-care classroom at some point. This reminds children to pay attention to what the teacher is saying. She could be explaining safety instructions or telling how to do a particular activity. Listening to what the teacher says is a critical safety rule in day cares. It helps maintain the safety and smooth flow of the daily routine.
In the end, the most important rule in a child care center — and in the rest of the world — is to be kind. Children will learn through experience what kind means. When a teacher asks “Was that kind?” and a child sees that he caused someone to cry, he will learn that the answer is “No” and decide on what he could have done instead and what he will do if the situation comes up in the future.