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The First Day-What to Expect

What To Expect on The First Day...Tips and Tricks

First Day of Kindergarten

Childcare Is A BIG Decision

Choosing the perfect childcare center and program for your child and your family is probably one of the biggest decisions that you have made for your child thus far. 

It is not only a difficult decision to make, it is a big adjustment for everyone in the family. It's a new routine for everyone, a new environment and new people to get to know. And of course (maybe) it's the first time your child is away from you for this long of a period. 

The realization that your child will now have a 'life' outside of your 'family bubble' is one that can be overwhelming for many parents.

At TBM, we recognize this and want to minimize your anxiety and stress as much as possible. 

Before the First Day

Prepare Yourself

  • Prepare yourself mentally for the potential tears

  • Mentally walk through the process

  • Make sure you are confident and positive

  • Do not let your child see your anxiety (and sadness)

  • Keep the positive front until you are away from your child’s gaze

Prepare Your Child

  • Talk to your child about going to childcare/school

  • Verbally talk your child through the steps of dropping them off

  • Have a visual schedule for them to follow (in the morning)

  • Practice ‘saying goodbye’; play the ‘drop-off game’

  • Establish a routine or a little ritual; a special kiss or hug or handshake to do at drop-off

Books About Saying Goodbye And Separation Anxiety

  • The Kissing Hand

  • The Invisible String

  • I Love You All Day Long

  • Llama Llama Misses Mama


Additional Tips To Ease The Transition

  • Send a comfort item

  • Buy a special ‘stay-at-daycare/school’ stuffed animal

  • Send a photograph of your family or Mommy and Daddy with the child

  • Send a shirt, scarf, gloves, hat that belongs to Mom or Dad (that smells like you)

  • Children do better with routine and consistency; ideally, keep the same routine daily (children should attend daily programming if they struggle with changes)

  • Have the same parent do drop-off and the same parent do the pick-up daily

  • If someone different is doing a pick-up, let their teachers know so they can tell your child ahead of time

'What to Expect On The First Day'

This page is designed to help and assist families by making the first day as 'transparent' as possible and giving a step-by-step overview of what is going to happen from drop-off to the time you pick up your child. 

Make sure you have everything needed for your child. 

Drop Off Procedure

Everyone over the age of 5 years old who enters the building must be wearing a mask. Anyone not wearing the appropriate face covering (over mouth and nose) will be turned away at the screening table.  

7:00-10:30 AM 

  • Front door is unlocked, so walk up to the second floor

  • A screener is on duty at the second floor entrance

  • You can use the stairs or the elevator to come upstairs to the screening area

  • Please refer to the Ontario Online School Screening tool before attending the center.

  • At the center we will check your child's and your temperature

  • Please keep a 3 meter distance between other parents/children while in the stairwell area

After 10:30 AM (Expect A LONGER Drop-Off)

  • No screener on duty

  • Ring the doorbell

  • Expect few minutes delay for answer

  • Someone will either come downstairs or answer through the doorbell camera speaker


The first 1-3 weeks:

  • Depending on the frequency your child attend the program

  • Their age

  • Your child's personality

  • Your stress level/actions

You Will Most Likely See:

  • Tears/Crying

  • Not wanting you to leave

  • Delaying your departure

  • May start crying in at home, in car, upon arriving at the building, upon separating


  • These reactions are appropriate for children

  • Your stress and reaction towards the situation will affect your child's reaction

  • Do not leave without saying goodbye to your child

  • A short, precise goodbye works best

  • Consistency and routine is important for children to feel secure. Drop-off and pick-up at the same time daily is optimal. (Dropping off at the same time daily means that your child joins the group during a certain activity or while certain children are there before them. If things are out of order, they know.) If your pick-up time is different or the person picking up is different, let the teachers know so we can pass the message along to your child and minimize their anxiety. (If you are not there at the same time daily, they may not be able to read the clock, but they know that 'after snack' Dad comes and you are not there, it causes some children a lot of worry.)

  • We are professionals, we are use to and deal with this exact situation VERY often

  • Staff will ensure your child is not in distress and will keep them comforted as long as it takes

  • We do not rush children into any activities, groups or interactions, we allow them to observe and                        approach at their own pace

  • Every child is different

  • Some children may 'do well' and have no or very little tears for the first week and 'all of a sudden' go through difficult drop-offs. It's almost like a 'delayed reaction' and when they realize that they will continue to come to the school, they have a reaction. Again, it's something we see often. 

  • Every child will adjust. Some children may take longer than others, but they always adjust. Your 'behavior' or actions at drop-off will highly influence your child. You want to show a confident and secure body language and words. (Breakdowns and tears to be kept out of view of the children. If you feel like or need to cry (totally understandable reaction to an emotional situation by the way), wait until your child is out of view. If you need support, our staff can assist parents also. We understand that it is a difficult thing to see our child cry and not want you to leave.)

  • Every other parent who has a child in childcare or school has been through the same                                            emotions as you. Reach out to your mommy/daddy friends for support. 

  • Don't be embarrassed or ashamed, we have seen it all before... 

Examples of Goodbyes

These are good examples to use to say a quick, reassuring goodbye to your child.

Personalize it and/or make them more fun with a special handshake or little dance step... AFTER your child is more comfortable with drop-off. 


"Mommy/Daddy has to go to work. I will be back later. I love you."

"I have to go away now. I will come back. Mommy/Daddy always comes back."

"Have fun today! I love you and I will come back after."

"You're ok/safe. I will be back soon."

...any variation of the above works well for toddlers. Keep it short, simple and clear. 


"Have fun today. I will come and pick you up as soon as I can (after work). I love you!"

"I cannot wait to hear how much fun you had today when I come back to get you. I love you!"

"I am sure you will love your new friends. You can tell me about your favorite toy you find today when I see you later."

"If you miss me later, just close your eyes and you will see me smiling. I will be back as soon as I finish work (pick up your brother from grandma's...)."

"Remember that I love you and I am always excited to come and get you."

"You have a great day and draw me a picture. I can put it up in my office (on the fridge, etc). I will see you at home. Daddy (Grandma, Uncle, etc.) will be coming to get you later."

...any variation of the above works well for preschoolers. Keep it short, simple and clear. Don't make any promises you can't or may not be able to keep. (I will pick you up as soon as you wake up! -you bet your child will stay awake that day to make sure they don't miss you...)


After the First 1-3 Week Adjustment Period

What You Might See

  • Your child may not 'even care' to say goodbye anymore, they may 'ignore' you and rush into their classroom

  • Your child may stick to the same goodbye routine

  • Some children may have 'off days'; when they are tired, teething, getting sick or feeling under the weather, when there's a major change in their lives (new baby, new house, separation, change of routine, etc.)

  • Regression Periods; depending on the child an 'off day' can trigger a regression period where your child has the same reaction at drop off as they did on the first day. These periods are usually self-correcting as the child works through what is bothering them in their life (sometimes at school or at home). 

  • Children who continue to struggle with separation anxiety and drop-off may need additional support from our team. If you are worried about the lack of progress, talk to a staff member about options. 



Pick-Up Procedure

During Outdoor Play

  • Stand at the gate and wait for a teacher to open the gate


  • Make sure the gate is closed properly once your child is brought to us

  • Once your child has been dismissed to you, the staff assume that you are now supervising them, make sure to keep a close eye on them and not assume that the staff are still supervising them

During Indoor Play

  • Use the 'Ready to Pick Up' option on HiMama to advise the staff that you are on your way (within 5 minutes of the school)

  • If your child is not already at the door, ring the doorbell

  • Tell the staff who you are here to pick-up (through the doorbell speaker)

  • Ask for items that you need (other than what is usually sent home with your child)

  • Staff will bring your child downstairs to you


Items You Send

To help us keep track of your child's things and to avoid any lost items, help us by: 

  • Labeling everything with your child's first name and last initial (we may have more than one child with the same name)

  • Tell the classroom teachers (through HiMama) when you send items (to make sure it gets 'delivered' to the classroom and the teachers are aware)

  • Don't send anything you cannot replace (any 'special' items or unique items, anything valuable)


  • When you send 'replacement' items advise the teachers to send the 'old' item being replaced home (if you send new shoes, advise us to send the old pair home)

  • Send items that can be kept (as much as possible) at the school to cut down on unnecessary back and forth

  • Not sure what we have for your child at school? Ask the teachers to send you a picture of your child's items.

  • Missing something? Advise the classroom teachers first. They will do a classroom/cubby search. If the item is still missing, we will extend the message and search to the other rooms and the school.


  • Food or drinks (Unless a medical permission has been granted)

  • Birthday/Holiday treats (food or treat bags), ask your child's teacher for alternative ideas

  • Valuable items (we cannot guarantee their safety)

  • Toys

  • Unnecessary backpacks/children's bags (we have a limited amount of storage space per child and we do not want items to be going back and forth)

  • Additional/Spare outdoor clothing, try to send only what is weather appropriate for the day

  • Umbrellas (keep them in the car and bring them for your child at pick-up, again, avoiding the unnecessary back and forth)

  • Not sure about something, ask the teachers first!

After Drop-Off

Here's an overview of what happens on our end after you dropped-off your child and you have left: 

  • The child is brought to their designated classroom and handed over to the classroom teachers (if he wasn't greeted at the door by one of them)

  • All the child's belongings are unpacked and put away in their assigned spots by one staff member

  • One teacher usually stays with the child until they are calm (if they are crying) and slowing introduce them to  the other children and material around the room

  • The child is able to observe if they want before 'jumping into' activities

  • Some children may need an adult to stay near them as they explore or start to take materials off the shelves

  • Teachers have 'go to' activities for new children, things that are easy and calming (pouring water, puzzles, coloring, blocks, etc.)

  • Depending on the child's level of comfort, the teacher slowly pull away from them to give them space to socialize and explore on their own

  • Some children may need/choose to stay close to a teacher for a while (several days even) on and off during the day

  • Some children may not want to take off their outdoor shoes or outdoor clothes right away, we allow them to do it in stages, slowly over a longer period. (Winterwear can get hot, we suggest unzipping the coat, then remind the child it's hot, maybe just take off the coat, but they can hold on to it... etc. ) Eventually, stuff gets forgotten and left behind, we just pick it up and put it on the hook. Don't worry, we don't let children overheat by wearing their full winter gear all day long!

  • The classroom teachers will do a 'check-in' with you on HiMama after a few hours (usually around 10-10:30 AM) to let you know how your child is doing

  • If you don't hear from them by 11:00 AM, feel free to contact them on HiMama

Snack and Lunches

  • Depending on the child, some children will eat as they would 'normally' at home while                                             others will refuse to eat or eat very little for the first week or two. 

  • Children who don't eat; it may take them a little bit longer to get comfortable with the environment                          and  until they do, they choose not to eat or eat very little. That's alright. As a parent it can be worrisome to know our child is not eating, however, according to medical and dieticians, we need to look at a child's diet for a week. That means that you don't look at your child's daily intake, but rather a weekly intake. If your child skips or eats very little for a few meals the first or second week at school, but is eating well for breakfast and dinner at home (maybe even more than usual), then great, they are compensating for lunch. Parents should worry when children are not eating at school AND at home. To ease your child's hunger and avoid an 'after-school' meltdown, you might want to have a small snack waiting for them in the car for the ride home. 

  • Children always have 3 choices from 3 different food groups for lunch and at least 2 choices for snacks 

  • Milk (2%) is served with lunch (unless the child has dietary restrictions a substitute will be served)

  • Children are allowed other helpings of food (no restrictions on servings), as long as they finished everything (of the requested item) on their plate 

  • Once we finished all the one food item, if a child wants another helping, they are offered an alternative

  • Water is available at anytime and teachers encourage/remind children to drink regularly

  • Water bottles are brought outside and are accessible to the children during outdoor play (warm weather)

  • Allergies/Restrictions; children with allergies or dietary restrictions have lunches that are prepared and packaged separately from the rest of the other portions in a licensed commercial kitchen 

  • We are very culturally aware of certain food restrictions and preparation of food (halal, kosher, etc.)

  • We are sensitive to and are aware of cross-contamination regarding allergies and lifestyle choices (vegetarian, vegan, etc.)

Sleep/Rest Time

  • Each child has their assigned cot (never changes or shared with anyone else)

  • Each cot has a sheet on it; they are laundered weekly (or as needed if before the end of                                                 the week)

  • All children are expected to be on their cot for 45 minutes

  • Sleepers (all toddlers) are expected to lay on their cots 

  • All sleeping children are woken up after 2 hours maximum

  • Non-sleeping children are allowed to sit on their cots quietly and read a book or work on a quiet activity for 45 minutes

  • Lights are tuned off, window blinds pulled and soft music or white noise is played during quiet/nap time

  • Children who need extra support to fall asleep; a teacher will sit beside their cot, rub their backs or simply keep them company until they fall asleep 

  • As needed,  toddlers will be rocked to sleep and eased into a routine of falling asleep on their cots

  • Children who are toilet learning and still need extra protection for nap; let the teachers know and we will put a diaper or pull on diaper as needed and remove it after quiet time

Crying at Pick-Up

  • Your child may "spontaneously" start crying when they see you at the end of the day; it's perfectly                                 in line with a child's being relieved to see you; overwhelmed with relief, children 'go to' reaction is                                to start crying.

  • It may have been an 'emotional day' with many ups and down

  • Some children are extremely tired (physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc.), especially if they are in a program for the first time

  • Maybe they are hungry; have a small snack in the car for them

  • As much as it's hard to believe (since you drop-off your child and they were crying and now they are crying when you pick them up), no child spends their whole day crying... most will cry and drop off and stop. They don't cry all day...until they see you again.  Some children will cry for a bit and stop for a long period, maybe cry again for a few minutes, stop again and so on all day. Overall children spend less time NOT CRYING than crying. 


  • Every child must go through separation from their parent at some time (have you ever seen a 10                                  year old who cries when their parent leaves the room?...I has to happen in order for them                                                 to be healthy adults). 

  • It is hard, don't kid yourself, it's an emotional parenting stage

  • You are NOT a bad parent for having your child in childcare

  • We are here to support you and your family, reach out if you need it

Mother and Son
Mother and Son
Father Combing Daughter's Hair
Father and Son
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Packing Boxes
Child Eating from Bowl
Sleeping Baby
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