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August 16, 2016 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Helping a younger toddler transition from an infant daycare to a different, toddler daycare? Difficulty level: Spanish immersion!

I saw some similar questions but they seem to be for older kids (2+ to preschool); my little guy is currently 16 months and in that "in between" stage of not quite a baby, not quite a full-fledged toddler.

Toddler Bravo was previously in an infant class at a small daycare center. We decided to change providers and tomorrow he will start at a new daycare center that is Spanish immersion, in their "young toddlers" classroom.

He's fairly independent, but cautious and wary of strangers and crowds. He clings to me and Mr. Bravo in unfamiliar settings, then starts to venture out a bit after 20 - 30 minutes. He handled the AM drop off at his infant daycare pretty well (halfhearted fussing, then going back to what he was doing), but he'd been with that teacher since 12 weeks of age. He has a solid vocabulary but it's still just single-word nouns, he can't tell us how he is feeling or what he's thinking.

I'm a little nervous about all the changes we are throwing at him, at once. This is a new teacher, new location, new kids, in a language he does not speak. He'll also be going from being the oldest kid in an infant room, to one of the youngest ones in a toddler room, and from taking naps in a crib, to using a nap cot.

What should I expect? Is there any other way I can ease this transition for him in the next few weeks? How long did it take your younger toddler to adjust to a new care setting? I would ask some of these questions of the center director, but tomorrow is the grand opening of the center (they moved here from a smaller location nearby) and she's got a lot going on.

What we've done already is spent a couple weeks reading board books to him in Spanish and trying to repeat things in the limited college Spanish we know (he seems interested but who knows how much he's absorbing). I've also told him a few times "Okay, this is your last week at infant daycare with Julie...okay, today is your last day with Julie...okay, this week you will be starting a new daycare, with new kids and a new teacher, you will have fun..." etc. etc.

We will be sending a familiar stuffed animal for his use at nap time, and for the first couple weeks we will stay a little longer with him at drop off (30, 40 minutes or so) to help ease him into it somewhat. No other upheavals or changes are planned in his life right now.

Thoughts from those who did this transition with a younger toddler, or have experience with their little one suddenly starting language immersion/bilingual care, are appreciated!
posted by castlebravo to Education (4 answers total)
Best answer: We switched our daughter's daycare at 18 months and at 2 years. Both times I was anxious about it, and both times she took it in stride. We did about a 30-45 minute visit a few days before starting, but I think it might be counterproductive to do an extended drop off, making him more upset when you do go and setting him up to be more disappointed when you try to leave promptly.

I don't have experience with a language switch, but it seems like a relatively easy age to try it.
posted by Kriesa at 5:51 PM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We moved states when my daughter was around this age and the daycare transition was brutal. She cried at dropoff for weeks. Honestly, I think your focus on language is a bit misplaced - kids that age soak up language like sponges, and it's not as though he can communicate fluently in English yet, so he won't even miss that possibility. But a new care situation can be very jarring, regardless of the language of instruction!

I went to daycare for partial days with her for a couple days, and my mom went for a couple more. But ultimately it just took time. She had friends and routines she was used to at her old school, and the new school was different in many ways. And she was the youngest in her new class and the bigger kids seemed WAY bigger, speaking full sentences with mouths full of teeth. And then just when she bonded with a teacher that teacher moved away and we had to start over.

But! This too shall pass and now she loves her school. No matter how rough it is, it's temporary! And probably harder on you than it is on your kid.
posted by the marble index at 7:16 PM on August 16, 2016

Best answer: The advice we've always had (from 3 different nurseries) was to drop the kid off and leave promptly. They scream for a couple of minutes but quickly adapt and calm down. Staying for longer just prolongs the pain and they'll still kick off when you leave, and like Kriesa says you'll need to get them used to prompt drop offs anyway eventually.
You can always ask the day care what they recommend, they've obviously dealt with this hundreds of times.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:50 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, it's week 2 and he seems to be doing OK. He clings and cries hard at drop-off, but the center is really good at gently shooing away parents and distracting kids with toys, so we've only been spending 5 - 10 minutes max there in the morning. He's recovering fast after we leave and his teachers report his mood is 'very happy' during the day, and he's always contentedly playing when we come to pick him up.

New words he's learned include zapatos (" 'papos!"), hola, and guapo - we are impressed!
posted by castlebravo at 10:29 AM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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