Starting at a new early childhood setting can be quite an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time for children and their families. At Mother Duck, we focus on ensuring that our relationship with your child and your family begins the moment you give us a call or pop in to inquire about enrolling your child. Once you have confirmed your child’s enrolment, we have a number of strategies in place that will support your child to make the transition from home to our Centre, or from another setting to Mother Duck.
What does Mother Duck do differently?
This might be your first time at an early childhood centre, or you may be making a transition from another setting with your child. So, you might find that at Mother Duck we do some things a little differently, or things you may expect to see are not there. The curriculum and the environments are very carefully thought through in order to support young children’s learning and development. We base our decisions on research, best practice and innovation and we often challenge more traditional ways of ‘doing’ early childhood education and care.
We are very aware that our world is changing rapidly and that we are facing some big challenges as a society, especially how we care for ourselves, how we care for each other and how we care for our planet. In terms of the everyday play experiences offered to children, we focus on the challenges emerging from our core emphasis on social responsibility – things like sustainability, empathy, problem-solving, collaboration and resilience – and we use these to guide our work with and alongside children and each other.
We, therefore, invite you to take some time to talk to our educators and our leadership team about these skills and what they might look like for your child through their everyday play experiences at Mother Duck.
Stay and play
One of the key strategies we offer families before they start with us is ‘stay and play’ dates. We see these as absolutely critical for a number of reasons:
1) It is so important that families are able to ask as many questions as they wish, in order to be sure that our Mother Duck Centre is the right fit for both their child and their family. During the stay and play dates, you will see the Centre in action and be able to observe the children and educators engaging in play experiences. This will help you to understand the way Mother Duck approaches teaching and learning.
2) Relationships are such an essential part of learning and as your child’s educators, we are keen to see how you child responds to other children, their key educators and their comfort in leaving your side for short periods of time. In this way we can work together on ways to best support your child’s transition into our Centre.
3) As early childhood settings are busy environments, often with lots of children buzzing about in our studios and outdoor spaces, becoming comfortable within the spaces will be key to your child’s successful transition. All of our Centres have little spaces in the hallways and foyers we call ‘pause points’ to help children take their time and set their own pace in heading toward their studio. Stay and play dates help your child become familiar with these opportunities to take a breath and prepare for the day ahead.
4) Your support for our rituals and traditions will be important in ensuring that your child makes the transition from home to Mother Duck each and every day. Changing your child’s nappy on arrival, being on time for our morning meeting, encouraging your child to be independent with their belongings and understanding our strong focus on sustainable practices (we do not encourage ‘make and take’ activities) will help your child to move confidently from your care to ours each day.
5) Discovering how we share teaching and learning at Mother Duck is another key element to appreciating how we do things differently. As we do not use online portals (we would rather spend time with your child) please ask us about the many ways we are able to connect you with what we do with and alongside your child and how you child learns with and alongside other children – ask to see these when you come for your stay and play. We think this is one of our key strengths!
6) Learning the names of other children will support your conversations at home, even starting with just one child’s name on your first play date will help your child to connect a name and a face – it doesn’t matter of your child is an infant or a four year old – showing them you have enjoyed the play date experience, and want to share these memories with them, will be such a positive step in the transition process.
Most importantly, the stay and play dates will show your child that you are comfortable in their new environment. Seeing you chatting with our educators and having small conversations with other children will help your child understand that you are confident and enthusiastic about their new place of learning. If you can both spend at least two or three dates with us – for perhaps an hour each time, the transition process will be calm, positive and lots of fun for your both!
So please ensure you make stay and play dates with us a priority so that both you and your child feel right at home when they start in their studio – we can’t wait to welcome you to the Mother Duck family.