Starting at nursery or pre-school is a big step for little ones. Having been surrounded mainly by close family in a familiar and comforting home environment, they’re suddenly expected to settle in somewhere completely alien, surrounded by strangers. It would be a tall order for anyone, let alone a toddler or preschooler. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here are some easy steps that parents or carers can take to make the move to nursery/pre-school plain sailing for little ones.
Bring Them for a Visit and/or Settling-in Session
Once you’ve identified the most likely nursery or pre-school contender(s) for your child, take them for a visit. At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, for example, we’ll be happy to show both adults and their little ones around the setting — more than once if it helps. By doing so, children can meet the childcare professionals that will look after them before they actually start. They can even sit in on some of the activities, perhaps. Such visits, and any additional ‘settling-in’ sessions, allow children to get to know the staff, familiarise themselves with the layout of the setting and locate exactly where toys and equipment of interest can be found. They also allow new children to get to know other little ones who are likely to be in their peer group. Therefore later, once they start nursery/pre-school properly, they will see familiar faces and equipment and will be able to hit the ground running.
Talk About It
Talking about soon starting nursery/pre-school is a great way to get toddlers and preschoolers used to the idea. Even better is discussing all the exciting things that they’ll be able to do once there. For example, making new friends, being creative, playing with new toys, resources and equipment, learning new skills, taking part in extra-curricular activities, learning about nature, outdoor visits and so on. Getting them excited about the opportunities that nurseries and pre-schools represent is key. It also, of course, helps little ones understand what to expect so that they’re mentally prepared when the time comes.
It’s equally important, if not more so, to listen to any questions or misgivings that your child may have about starting a nursery/pre-school. Answer questions, of course, but also reassure them when doing so. After all, questions may be a little signal that they’re anxious. Carefully crafted answers and reassurance are great ways to allay any concerns that they may have, before they become more deeply set.
We should also add that it’s important not to ‘reflect’ any concerns that you have onto your child. So, be careful what is said within hearing range of your child. The staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery will always be happy to discuss any concerns you or your child have, of course — we’re here for you all, after all.
Find a Friend
You could also ask around to see if your child already knows, or plays with, another child that will start at the childcare setting at the same time as them. As we mentioned above, having a familiar friend there from day one will really help them to settle in and not feel alone.
Nurture Their Independence
Nurturing independence before under-fives start nursery/pre-school is also a great way to help them be better prepared. If they can go to the loo independently, wash their hands, fasten their own shoes, learn to tidy up for themselves, pack their own bag and so on, it’ll greatly help them once they’re without you at nursery or pre-school. Even speaking, communicating and following instructions as well as possible — before starting — will help them to be more confident and more relaxed on arrival. All of this needs to be encouraged well before they start if it’s to be fully effective.
Teach Them a Routine!
Another thing that needs to be done in advance of the start date is getting them used to appropriate bed, waking up and breakfast times. Specifically, the goal is to ensure their body clocks have fully adjusted to be in tune with their day once they start at the childcare setting. If this is achieved, they’re far more likely to feel energised rather than over-tired during their nursery day.
On Day 1
Before long, the first day of nursery will arrive. There are a few things that you can do to help your child on the day:
- Ensure their clothes and backpack are ready beforehand, so that’s one less thing to worry about on the day. Perhaps even sneak your child’s favourite soft toy or comforter into the pack, so they have ‘company’ on the day.
- Don’t be late. That’s important. So, ensure you are all up early enough so that getting ready for the first day of nursery is not ‘panic stations’. It needs to be relaxed, stress-free and fuss-free for your child.
- Focus on how exciting it’s going to be for your child. Your enthusiasm will help to allay any trepidation they may be feeling.
- Hide any anxiety you may be feeling yourself and stay positive otherwise your child may pick up on your feelings themselves. That’s also important in the moment that you drop them off and say goodbye.
- Remind your child what time you’ll be picking them up, so they feel reassured.
Chances are, though, they may well fly through that entrance gate, without so much as a glance or a wave, and can’t wait to disappear for a day of fun!
On arrival, our childcare professionals will will put children’s minds at rest immediately as they welcome them into the nursery. We’ll make sure they feel safe, relaxed and cared for and will ensure they have a wonderful first day at nursery/pre-school.
Our Edgbaston Nursery & Pre-School is near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood & Smethwick
We are a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16), so are also conveniently located if you require childcare services near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. If you’re looking for high quality childcare for under-fives in these areas, please get in touch — we can help. We’re also a Birmingham Forest School, giving children access to outdoor experiences and adventure that teach them about the natural world — and also about themselves. We have an incredible mix of learning and development opportunities at Leaps & Bounds, so why not come along for a visit with your little one. We’ll show you both around and will be happy to answer any questions …