Home Kindergarten The adjustment period: This is how you give your child a good start in kindergarten

The adjustment period: This is how you give your child a good start in kindergarten

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

There is an exciting time ahead of you. The start of kindergarten, daycare, or crèche is a big step for our children. The excitement is not only great among our children. This is also a new experience for us. Of course, this can also have a negative impact.

Here’s what you need to know about starting daycare or kindergarten. How the system will or should work and what you need to watch out for. With simple tips and tricks on how to get the most out of it, of course.

How is acclimatization done?

Most kindergartens and crèches provide a gentle start to your children’s new life. Acclimatization is divided into several phases, depending on the model and possibilities of the kindergarten or crèche, but in principle, there are the following phases:

1. The first contact

At least a few months before the start, there should be a first contact, preferably with your child. This is the first time they meet, and important information is exchanged.

Here you will find out all the important things that happen in the kindergarten / crèche. You may also get a small tour of the house. You will usually see the group room at least once. Here, the formal matters are also explained. What will happen when the child is picked up, who can pick up the child, who can contact you in case of an emergency, what programs the child participates in, etc. …

You also have the chance to tell the educators important information. Allergies and health facts will be asked anyway. And there is also room for your questions, concerns, and other concerns.

2. Trial days

Many institutions offer trial days. You and your child can get a taste of the group for a few days. On these days, you and your child get to know the teachers and the other children in the group and see how a day at the kindergarten or crèche goes.

Trial days are not absolutely necessary, but they can help your child get an idea in advance and reduce uncertainty and fears. Usually, such days increase the anticipation greatly.

3. The launch

As mentioned previously, many facilities allow for a soft start. That means that parents can be with their child for the first few days of getting used to the room. This allows for a safe environment in which your child can get to know everything better, while also building up trust and a good bond with the teachers.

4. Stabilization

In this phase, the bond between educators and supervisors is strengthened. By now, you will have taken care of most of the things that concern your child. Changing diapers and dressing and undressing if necessary. Now, the mother or father leaves the room again and again and waits in the cloakroom or later near the kindergarten.

5. Final Stage

When your child is really settled in kindergarten or daycare and sees the educators and carers as people who can help him or her, it doesn’t need any extra help from you. Your child will now attend kindergarten, and you will be called in emergencies.

Settling-in models: Berlin and Munich settling-in models as a comparison

modelMunich modelBerlin modelAbrupt acclimatization
time 2 weeks2 – 4 weeksOnly a few minutes together with the parents, but the acclimatization is incomplete. The actual duration is 1–2 months.
parent involvementhighhighsmall amount
pedagoguesGradually becoming a caregiver, safe haven, close bondGradually becoming a caregiver, safe haven, close bondChildren have to rely on them from the beginning and get used to them on their own. Attachment is uncertain, whether good or bad.
communicationEveryone’s opinion is important, parents, teachers, and children, as well as the other children in the group.Relationship triangle, exchange of views between parents, educators, and child is importantRather, only between parents and teachers.
child’s perspectiveThe child is seen as a good unit with all of its abilities and feelings.The child’s feelings and needs are consideredThe child is accepted for who he or she is, but above all needs and feelings are put aside.
acclimatizationWith the help of the other children in the group, by the child himself.By parents and teachers together.The educators alone.
Settling-in models overview

What is important when adjusting?

These tips will make it easier to adjust:

  • Prepare your child for kindergarten by reading books, telling stories, and going on walks to the kindergarten.
  • Let your child choose a great backpack and other items, like a bottle, lunch box, and slippers.
  • Only say good things about the kindergarten and make your child more excited about it. When you enroll, take your child with you.
  • Show your child where the group room is.
  • You may be able to establish contact with another child from the group beforehand.
  • At first, you had to walk into the room with your child.
  • It is important that you give yourself enough time to adjust.
  • Be watchful of your child’s behavior during the acclimatization period.
  • Tell your child why kindergarten is important.
  • Tell your child what you are doing while they are in kindergarten or daycare.
  • Perhaps you could take a photo of the educators or carers that you could show and explain to the child in advance.
  • Let your child know how proud you are of him/her.
  • Explain to your child that the kindergarten or crèche can call you at any time if something happens to them.
  • When your child is trying to get used to his/her new daily kindergarten life, praise them. Even if there were a few tears shed.
  • Also, try to meet other children in the group when you can.
  • Give your child their favorite stuffed animal or put it in their backpack.
  • Ritualize getting up and saying goodbye in the morning. Give your child support and security.
  • Start the day without stress by getting out of bed a few minutes earlier.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. You can only face the challenges of everyday life when you are fully awake.
  • If your child is having trouble adjusting, look for the exact reason.

What to do if you have difficulties adjusting?

Sometimes, the adjustment is not as smooth as we would have liked for our children. Even weeks later, your child will not feel calmed down by the teachers. Your child doesn’t want to go to kindergarten or crèche, and they’re already sad the night before when they hear that they have to go back. 
If this is the case for you, it is important to find out what’s going on.

Too little sense of security

If you are just finishing the acclimatization phase, it may not be over for your child yet. More security is needed to build trust.

You should talk to your teachers and possibly take a break from the acclimatization. Maybe you could wait in the cloakroom again, give them a cuddly toy, or even pick them up earlier for a few days. 

Not part of the group

It would also be good to build relationships with other children in the group. This can be done by the educators themselves, but also in our child’s leisure time through private meetings.

The more fun and secure your child feels, the more comfortable they will be.

Separation anxiety

Your child may cry because he/she is afraid of being separated from you. It would be good to talk to your child about the situation and to imagine the daily routine in the group with pictures.

For many children, this makes the wait even more bearable. It is expected that your child will only need a little longer to get used to the new situation and that the problem will go away on its own with patience and time.

Teasing and quarreling

Children can have problems and fights. In these cases, you should talk to the teachers, so the group can deal with the problem.

Without scapegoats or judgments. However, you may also want to discuss the situation with your child at home. In role-play, you can practice behaviors with toys, books, or stories.

It is also important to help your child develop self-confidence. Here’s how you can do this best.

What helps you as a parent to settle in?

Also, it’s exciting and new for us parents to start kindergarten or crèche. This is the first big step in letting go of our children. It is necessary for us to distance ourselves from our toddlers. Not all parents find this to be easy. As a parent, these tips will help you with the acclimatization.

  • Find out about the facility in advance (on the internet, from other parents, at the municipal office…
  • Write down important questions and concerns you have.
  • When you enroll, take your time.
  • You can ask all your questions during the first conversation.
  • You should see the important rooms.
  • Ask about their daily routine.
  • You might want to ask about the training of the supervisors and educators.
  • Ask about the period of time it will take to adjust.
  • Arrange a day of trial.
  • Be happy for your child.
  • At least use the time you’ve gained to take care of yourself.
  • Start the days when your child needs to go to kindergarten/crèche early enough without stress.
  • Several emergency numbers should be stored.
  • Communicate with the pedagogic regularly.
  • If you ask your child every day what is happening at kindergarten or crèche, you will also be part of what is happening.
  • If you have concerns or a bad feeling, tell the facility. Work together to find a solution.
  • If you don’t feel better, find another group. 

Why is a soft start so important?

A soft start is important for our children’s safety and well-being. The best option is not to release children into a new, unfamiliar situation without a caregiver at their side.

Depending on the child and temperament, it is possible and also feasible. But one of the most important things our children need is a sense of security. Only if this need is met can the start of kindergarten or crèche be successful without hurting your parent-child bond.

Some children don’t need much help from their parents and trust them very quickly, while others don’t. It’s probably hard for you to know how your child will react in a group situation. In any case, a gentle start is recommended.

This can be done faster or slower depending on how your child needs to be taken care of. With a gentle start, you make sure that your child has enough time to build a good relationship with the educators and caregivers and feels comfortable and well-liked in the group. 

How should we behave during acclimatization?

Be aware

It is allowed for your child to not be able to do things, even in kindergarten. This is completely normal!

It’s best to be yourself and not try to be someone you’re not. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to be cautious. Let your child explore the new environment on their own.

It is important that your child approaches the educators and carers themselves or accepts offers they make to your child. Be there for your child when they’re feeling unsafe, but don’t take everything away from them.

If your child needs help, let them go for now. Maybe they can come up with a solution themselves or go to the educator/supervisor with it. You can also ask your child to get help from the teacher, or go with him/her to the teacher and get help.

This will help your child immediately learn that they can trust these people and that they will also gain numerous good experiences. Perfect for a successful start.

When does the separation take place during acclimatization?

It’s best to figure this out on an individual basis. It is generally recommended that parents be present on the first day of kindergarten. If possible, you should occasionally leave the group on the 3rd/4th. Stay briefly at the beginning of the day and only come back at an agreed time.

The separation can start on the 2nd day, but it can also start on the 4th day. It is important that your child already has someone in the group they trust and feel safe with.

This process can take longer in the crèche. It can take up to 3 weeks depending on the child’s age. Children need more time to get used to all of them, especially very small ones.

How long does an acclimatization take?

The whole process of getting used to the new environment usually takes 2-4 weeks for the kindergarten and 3-7 weeks for the crèche. However, by that I mean the time until going to kindergarten has become part of everyday life for your child.

For kindergarten and the crèche, the adjustment period is about one week, in which you should plan more time. At the kindergarten, it usually takes 1-3 days to arrive, and the visit usually lasts only 1-3 hours.

Slowly, you will be able to leave the room more and more, and eventually your child will be in kindergarten or crèche longer. However, within the first week you should be available at any time.

When is a child settled?

When your child has trusted at least one person, it is fully settled. They should approach them with their concerns or allow them to do the everyday routines that your child is not yet able to do themselves.

Your child should like going to the kindergarten or crèche and show joy when saying goodbye, which is a clear criterion. Once your child is settled in, they will also take part in many group activities and make their first friends.

What should my child be able to do when it comes to daycare?

Actually, there are no requirements for the crèches. It’s especially important with crèches that you get your child used to staying in the group without mom or dad. Trust in the educator or caregiver must be good, both from your child and from you. If you’re not sure about the care, you should look at other facilities.

But crèches are especially good at taking care of small children who still need a lot of help with everyday things. Because of this, there are no prerequisites. It’s good if your child can let you know when they need help or are hungry or thirsty. This makes daily life in the crèche easier for your child.

It makes sense if your child can also occupy themselves and play for a short time. This way, your child won’t get bored during short waiting times or idle times, which can happen again and again in groups.

What should my child be able to do when they start kindergarten?

There are no requirements for kindergarten now. It is possible for your child to wear a diaper.

The more independent and self-confident your child is, the easier it will be to get around in kindergarten. Children who have a good sense of self-confidence adapt more quickly. They will have fewer fears and connect more quickly in the group. These things will make them feel comfortable in kindergarten.

Children who can put on and take off their jackets and shoes, get something to drink, blow their nose, and play alone (or almost alone) usually don’t feel so helpless in a group. This means that there are shorter waiting times and less boredom.

But it’s not a must. When our children start kindergarten, they usually learn these things quite quickly and become more independent. Even if our children don’t seem to be interested in these things, they are usually interested in them when other children are doing them, so our children learn these routines quickly.

Don’t force these things into your children. It’s great if you practice with your children in advance if they are interested and have the necessary skills. Cutting, drawing, painting, or making crafts with children’s scissors are also among these things.

Several children find this fun even before kindergarten age, and others do not want it at all. And that’s how you should handle it. Let your child try these things and become familiar with them. But if your child isn’t having fun, it doesn’t matter.

In kindergarten, there is no disadvantage. And so it is with potty training. Some children don’t need diapers when they start kindergarten, while others do.

You should not make toilet training dependent on when your child enters kindergarten, but on your child’s needs. Your child may refuse the toilet if you try to force it. Your child will probably start showing an interest in the toilet soon after he/she starts kindergarten. 


Your child doesn’t have to be able to do all this, but it’s a good idea if he or she can.

More to read

Can children be intolerable in kindergarten?

Why is kindergarten important?

How to increase concentration span in kindergarten age (with exercises)

You may also like