When Should Kids Start Daycare?

There has been a widely accepted belief that the best time for kids to start daycare is right after they turn on year old. While this may give an impression that this is a universal number that you must follow, you're probably wrong. Most of the time, the best time for you to start looking at programs for daycare depends on your child's particular needs.

Here are just some clues to determine when kids should start daycare:

They Maintain a Healthy Stress Level

The ultimate indication of your child's readiness for daycare is his or her normal stress level. If at age two, your child is naturally calm even in the presence of other people, then, he or she might be ready for daycare. However, daycare may not mean all fun for toddlers. Many two-year-old kids still cannot handle the stress in daycare and regress. They get clingy, overly shy, and even experience bad dreams. Observe your child's normal stress level. If they get stressed easily, it might be best to wait longer before you enroll them at daycare.

They Show Readiness for Separation

Every child, regardless of their age, experience separation anxiety once they start preschool or daycare. They look up to their parent or primary caretaker as their North Star and separation could be extremely worrisome for them. Nonetheless, every child has his or her unique way of handling separation anxiety. If you can talk to your child to help him or her develop peace of mind even when you're away, then this is a good time to start daycare. Otherwise, you can help him or her get used to the new environment first before eventually dropping him or her off to daycare.

They Have Healthy Social Abilities and Preferences

Programs for daycare are a good place for your child to acquire social skills. However, there should be some pre-requisites for your child to get such skills. For one, some children are just predisposed to being friendly with children. Some children may be stressed in the presence of other children a.k.a. "competitors" for toys, caretaker's attention, and other things that are important to them. Observe your child's social abilities and preferences and help him or her adjust in an environment expected of a daycare. For example, if he or she tends to be stressed when there are many other children around them, you might want to enroll him or her in a daycare with fewer children in one room.

Daycare has many physical, emotional, intellectual, and social benefits. However, putting them to daycare when the children are not yet ready may have negative ramifications too. While age is a good indicator, every child is unique. Nobody but you can determine whether or not your child is ready for daycare.