Separating Slowly – Buddings Integration
If your child is under 3, unfamiliar with separation, or simply likes to start things slowly, our Integration Program is for you!
New member families will find the child(ren)’s first 3 hours in the account upon activation, and we recommend using them one at a time, over the course of a week, or up to 10 days, as practice sessions for what children will experience when they stay for a longer visit. Including saying goodbye. And being picked up!
Step 1: Settle in
Plan to spend 5 – 15 minutes helping your child settle in. The lentil table, cars, the house corner, or building blocks are great activities that kids can start with parents’ help, and continue with a teacher or independently after you’ve said goodbye. Snuggling up on the couch with a book may be tempting, but try to leave room for the teacher to join you.
Tip: Think about how you will extract yourself when it’s time to leave.
Step 2: Say “goodbye”
When you’re ready, let children know you’re going to go. Choosing somewhere they know about, like “work” or “Wholefoods” or “coffee” can help normalize this new experience. Let them know you’re going to be right back, and that they are going to stay and play. Resistance is normal, but it shouldn’t change the facts.
Step 3: Leave… with confidence!
The teachers at Buddings know that the integration visits are our first opportunities to start building the relationships that carry children through the hours that they spend in our care. It’s the most important part of the job, and we’re very good at it, but the kids don’t know that yet.
IT IS SO NORMAL FOR KIDS TO CRY. Everyone cries. Even the happiest kids, who are now 4 years old, and look indestructible… they used to cry and cry. They got over it, and your child will too. Much faster than you will.
Children look to parents for feedback, for assurance that the new situation is safe, and for your approval. Tell them it’s okay, with your words. Show them they are safe by pointing out their water bottle and comfort objects (if any), and give your approval by smiling and passing your child into the teacher’s arms. Literally.
Give them one last hug at the gate, and then meet them at the window for a final wave. Receiving the wave back can take some practice, but that’s the goal, so set them up for it. The most important thing is to smile. 🙂
When you come back after 40 – 50 minutes, they’re playing away! Any tears are long dry and when you ask about the visit, they’re excited to share all their news. That’s the best-case scenario. And even then, the second day is usually the toughest…
The goal of integration is to associate Buddings with fun and friends, of course, but also with a place that YOU come back to. Repetition is the best way we know to show your child that Buddings is a safe, fun place to play, and that parents always come back. Once they have that confidence, they can learn and play!
Some kids take to the place on day 1. Some kids need 3 or more days, and sometimes it can take longer still. We’re always prepared to give integrating kids extra attention, and the special relationships that form between teachers and tentative children are among the most rewarding aspects of this job. Plus, we’ll send you photos so you can follow along. 🙂