When your child stats to attend a nursery, child minder or pre school, settling for the first time can be traumatic for both the child and the parent. The transition from being at home surrounding by their favourite toys and spending so much time with their primary care giver to adjusting to a new environment with lots of other children all fighting for attention can be difficult. But if you follow the below top tips for helping your child settle at nursery you should find that it becomes a little bit easier, especially if you are looking for nursery’s for one year olds or above.
Explain the process
They may be little but they understand a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for. Start talking about how exciting it will be when they start nursery and when doing different activities that they enjoy, such as drawing pictures, mention that they will be able to do this at nursery with their new friends too. If they are a bit older you can also start talking them through the day such a hanging u their coats and taking a pack lunch, letting them pick some of their favourite foods that they would like to take with them.
Familiarise them with the nursery setting
Most nurseries will offer settling in sessions, if these are optional I suggest you do take them. It gives your child the opportunity to see where they will be spending time and also understand that you will be coming back for them. If the nursery is local then in the run up to the start date try walking or driving past and pointing it out making it sound exciting that they will soon be able to go there with their new friends and showing them the building, driveway or gardens.
If there will be a uniform or book bag have it out in the bedroom and when you are dressing them point it out and say things like “ooo you can wear that lovely top next week when you start school” so again it becomes exciting. You can also let them help you to pick their special items like shoes, bows or a bag that they will only be used for nursery or pre school so they look forward to being able to wear and use these items.
Once they have started..
Once your child has started you may find that they, and you , are tearful for the first few days or even weeks, here are a few things that you can do to help them settle in to the nursery..
Talk about their day
Ask them about their day but be specific. Avoid questions like Did you have a nice time? and What did you do? Instead try things like
- Who did you sit next too at lunch?
- What story did you read today?
- Did you see any pink/blue/green toys?
- Did you laugh today? What was funny?
This will help them reflect more about what they did and allow you to engage in a deeper conversation.
The majority of care providers now send photographs home or share them on the portal, show these to your child and ask them what they were doing on that picture, who are they playing with and was that activity good. Sharing this information with you will help them process the day and see the good but it will also give you information you can use when they are anxious about going, things like, you might get to see X again today, or maybe you will play with the water today you liked that last week, those pictures were really good remember.
Plan your days off
Have a plan for your child’s day off and get them involved. This could be a week day or a weekend and it doesn’t need to be expensive day trips it can simply be playing with a favourite toy or reading a certain book or going to the local park. You can then create a count down to that activity giving them something to look forward to, then encourage them to tell nursery all about it so the two places once again become more fluid and not a there and here type situation.
If you implement these top tips before and during your child’s transition then it should help your child settle at nursery giving you peace of mind and them the opportunity to improve their social skills, and achieve their next set of developmental milestones.