How to tell if my 2-year-old toddler is happy at daycare?
General Ways to Tell if Your Toddler is Happy
Toddlers are tiny people learning everything new about the world for the first time. Most experiences like seeing a lawnmower or shoveling snow are all new. Emotions and feelings, new. So it can be difficult to tell if your toddler is happy or still figuring things out. Good thing we’re here to help you tell if your toddler is happy in general and at daycare.
We’ve put together this general list of items to help you figure out if your toddler is happy. It’s followed by a list of signs to gauge your toddler’s happiness level at daycare.
- Happiness Level – Laughing, interacting, eye contact, showing imagination are all signs of happiness in your toddler. Look for one or all of these signs every day.
- Show Emotions – Toddlers are learning to understand their emotions all the time. In general, you should be able to recognize the following sentiments in your toddler – crying/uncomfortable, laughing, calm, energized, and thinking/figuring it out. Emotions often result in physical tears, changes in breathing, or facial expressions. It’s all appropriate for a toddler’s age.
- Engage with People – Does your toddler play with other people? Good, they should, and they should attempt to share or be interested in learning to share. Eye contact is the best way to gauge if your toddler is engaging with other people. Check to see if they look at the person when they are playing together.
- Eating and Drinking – Every human needs to eat and drink water. The medical community’s consensus is that toddlers should drink 2 – 4 cups of water a day or 16 oz – 32 oz. If your toddler isn’t eating enough or drinking enough, they won’t be happy. It’s best to consult your pediatrician about water, drinks (like milk and juice), and food guidelines to keep your toddler’s growth and happiness level on track.
- Sleeping – Toddlers are growing, and all that growth requires a lot of sleep. It’s recommended that toddlers get 10-12 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours during the day. Think about how unhappy you are when you don’t get enough sleep; your toddler won’t be happy either if they don’t sleep.
- Play and Learning – A mixture of playing on their own, with you and other people, is ideal for a toddler. Toddlers need to play with other toddlers and older kids to learn how to play. Don’t forget adult family and friends. Toddlers can learn from them too!
How to Tell If Your Toddler is Happy at Daycare
When you enroll your toddler in daycare, you’re investing in their future. They will acquire social skills and learn all kinds of new things from their teachers and peers. Get ready for exciting “reports” from your toddler!
In addition to gauging your toddler’s general happiness level using the advice from above, we’re going to share with you the signs of happiness that we look for specific to daycare. Fortunately, these are the same things that you should look for when you drop off, pick up and discuss daycare with your toddler:
- Daycare Drop Off – The transition from home to car to daycare can be scary and disruptive for toddlers. It’s more a matter of toddlers getting used to new experiences and less about daycare in our experience. But over time, you should look for signs that the entire transition goes more smoothly and is quicker. Drop-off (and pick-up) should become easier with time.
- Settling In – When you have a toddler, you don’t want to stay home all the time. You want to teach your toddler to be comfortable in a variety of settings, including daycare. We keep an eye on kids as they settle in for the day. Do they greet people as they arrive? Do they hang their coat in their cubby? Do they sit down beside a friend? These are all positive signs that they feel comfortable and are adaptable to new situations.
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we use a research-based curriculum and track social, emotional, and learning milestones. We’ve highlighted some of these milestones below. Don’t expect your toddler to reach all these milestones at once. Some will take time, and some will be easily mastered and become routine. The important thing is to keep an eye on your toddler and speak with the teachers about progress over time. Plus, don’t forget the doctor. Your pediatrician is key to monitoring the physical development of your toddler.
Milestones for Toddlers at Daycare
- Connecting With Peers and Teachers – Does your toddler pay attention to their playmates and teacher? Even if it’s just a few seconds, this is a good sign.
- Start Following Daily Routines – It’s a huge milestone for a toddler to start and tackle their daily routine by themselves. This is called self-efficacy. As your child grows, they will be more confident in a variety of situations.
- Good Daycare Drop-Offs – Tears become less and less as toddlers are dropped off and picked up from daycare. This doesn’t mean they forget about you all day. It does mean they know they’ll see you again, but for now, they’re going to daycare to be with their friends and teachers, and everything will be okay.
- Eating “Like a Big Kid” – Toddlers are in transition, so it’s a big deal when they can eat off of a plate and an even bigger deal when they can eat off a plate at a table with everyone else. It might be messy sometimes, but one day they’ll get it right.
- Serene Nap Time – Remember it’s important for toddlers to get sleep. At Memories & Milestones Academy, our toddlers take a nap. We work with our toddlers to make nap time easy. This means they don’t get too distracted or have too much trouble going to lay down.
- It’s All Anyone Can Talk About – At some point, your toddler will talk a lot about daycare. They’ll sing songs taught at daycare, talk about friends and show pride in the work they bring home. These are good signs that your toddler loves daycare.
It’s important to keep in mind that kids are adaptable, and daily check-ins are just as important as progress over time. Even though your toddler might want it now!!!, that doesn’t mean they’ll learn everything at one time. Toddler parents can pay attention, be understanding, and know that their kid will learn all they need over time.
About Memories & Milestones Academy
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we’re happy to answer all questions and provide a complimentary walk-thru tour for our toddler program. Contact us to schedule your tour of our daycare center in New Prague or Belle Plaine.
We’re proud to be the top daycare provider in Belle Plaine and New Prague. Our enrolled families regularly recommend us to family and friends. Our employees enjoy working here and help to recruit additional teachers.