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How old is too old for daycare? Most daycare centers provide childcare services for children up to around age 5 or 6, as that’s when most children start kindergarten. However, it’s important to note there is no designated cut-off age. Some daycares even provide after-school services for school-aged children. But your child will eventually need to transition to kindergarten, and this can be an especially difficult time for them.

So, how do you determine that your child is ready for this new milestone?

Emotional maturity is the keyword here and is a much more significant criterion than age. Children develop and mature at different rates, and some will be ready for kindergarten sooner than others. For this reason, it’s vital to understand why your child is so hesitant to leave daycare. This way, you’ll be better placed to address or alleviate their concerns.

Helping Your Child Make the Transition from Daycare to Kindergarten

1. Work through the transition with them

Ensuring a smooth transition to kindergarten starts well before the first day of school. Involve your child in the process of choosing a school and role-play their first day of school as much as you can. More importantly, talk about leaving daycare in a positive way.

As a parent or guardian, your child will always look to you for guidance. How they approach the transition will be highly dependent on the things you say and the feelings you show. That’s why it’s so important to show them how excited and happy you are that they are making this transition.

2. Ease your child’s anxieties

Leaving daycare isn’t easy for children. A few common reasons children are hesitant to leave daycare include a fear of change or a fear of the unknown, a deep attachment to their childcare providers and friends at daycare, or maybe they’re not quite ready to transition to kindergarten. It’s important to remember that school readiness is not about age but rather whether a child has the foundation to be successful in school.

Admittedly, it can be tempting to brush off a child’s anxieties. Instead, acknowledge and address your child’s fears. Let them know that it’s okay to be afraid. Encourage them to express their feelings by asking questions or even drawing pictures.

3. Start a new routine

It’s likely that taking your child out of daycare will lead to some changes in their routine, especially if they are transitioning to kindergarten. Make the change less disruptive by gradually changing their routine. You could do this by making naptime a little shorter and changing bedtime to ensure your child still gets enough sleep.

4. Make playdates

Your child will undoubtedly miss their daycare friends and the caregivers they’ve grown to love. Validate their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel sad. You can make the transition process easier by arranging playdates with old friends even after taking your child out of daycare. What’s more, some kindergartens have programs that enable new kindergarteners to know each other before starting school. Taking part in these programs will help your child make new friends for the new chapter of their life.

5. Work with your childcare provider to make the transition to kindergarten easier

Discuss any concerns you may have with your child’s daycare. Daycare providers are invaluable partners in this process. They can talk to your child about leaving daycare and help ease their transition. After all, they’ve seen hundreds of children come through their doors.