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'Ten Tips' for Settling your child into Nursery School

This can be an exciting yet difficult time for both parent and child. Your child may experience mixed emotions and appear happy to go to Nursery, but suddenly become overwhelmed by the thought of being separated from you. Undoubtedly, when your child is upset, you maybe too, so it's essential to try and overcome and prevent any emotionally trying situations.

Preparing your child for Nursery is key to ensuring they settle well and that you, as a parent, are happy. The Starting School Picture Book is a great story and resource to introduce pre-school and nursery routines to your child.

By following these simple tips you can overcome the potential difficulties of your child's first day at Nursery.

  1. Choose the Nursery carefully- visit before hand and request a tour of the school. Remember, once your child starts Nursery they usually stay in this school for the remainder of their primary education. Itís an important decision, so visit a few local primary schools and make sure youíre happy youíve made the right choice.
  1. If your invited on a visit to the Nursery with your child - make sure you set aside the time to attend- as this is an invaluable experience, that shouldnít be missed. During the visit encourage your child to explore the Nursery setting and mix with other children. Make sure they are introduced to and know who their teacher is and how they can ask for help if needed. Take the time to show your child the bathroom and the main areas of the Nursery such as where to put their coat and wellingtons. Sometimes you may be invited to visit for a full session or it maybe you are invited for part of a morning or afternoon.
  1. Take photos of the Nursery environment, as this will help prepare your child and encourage them to discuss and become more familiar with the Nursery setting. Involve your child in taking photos by using a Kidizoom Twist Digital Camera. Children often find it hard to return to Nursery during the first year, following half term breaks, Christmas and Easter periods, so it could be that you use these photos throughout the year. Discuss with your child the special things about Nursery and why itís important.  NB- Ensure when you take photos in the Nursery setting you seek permission, and photos do not contain images of any children, other than your own.
  1. Request an additional visit to the Nursery with your child. This is helpful if your child was overanxious or was too upset to take in much during their first visit. If your child spent their first visit nervously by your side, it may be beneficial if they visited again with the hope of them getting to know the Nursery staff and meet some of their peers. Explain your concerns to the staff, as more often than not, they will be pleased to accommodate you.
  1. Provide the opportunity for your child to attend a playgroup before starting Nursery. Playgroups provide great opportunities for children to socialise and have fun with other children their own age. They are an invaluable tool for preparing your child for Nursery school. To find a playgroup in your area contact your Local Family Information Service .
  1. Find out as much as you can about the Nursery routines and how you can help your child to adapt to these. Many nurseries have time set aside for a healthy snack such as fruit or milk, so you may want to start to introduce this into your childís daily routine at home (if you havenít already done so). Perhaps the Nursery has an outdoor play area with tricycles, you could prepare your child by helping them to learn to ride a tricycle at home, so this is a familiar skill when they start Nursery, see our page on teaching your child to Ride a Bike for advice. By helping your child with what may seem like small things to you and I, you can make an enormous difference to how they settle into Nursery.
  1. Provide your child with opportunities to stay with family and friends for short amounts of time, so they get used to being left with other caring and trustworthy adults. If your chid is used to occasionally being left with other adults then they will undoubtedly find it easier to start Nursery and cope with the separation from you.
  1. Explain to your child that their teacher and the staff in the Nursery are there to look after them, and help them. Make sure your child understands as much as possible about the reasons why you are sending them to Nursery.
  1. Provide your child with opportunities to mix with other children outside of Nursery; this could include one or two children from the Nursery class, as this will undoubtedly make developing friendships a lot easier.
  1. Collect your child on time and avoid being late at all costs. There is nothing more frustrating for a child than waiting and being unsure as to whether they are being collected from nursery, especially when they initially start. Being late can completely undermine your childís trust in you, and could make bringing your child to Nursery the following morning a trying experience.
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