Monday, 4 August 2014

Getting ready for nursery

When your child is starting nursery for the first time, you want to do everything you can to prepare them for their big adventure. In this post I share some of the ideas and tips I have given to parents over the years to help with the transition.

Practice separating from your child

If it is the first time you and your child will be apart then starting nursery can be tough for both of you. A good way to prepare for this is to practice leaving your child at a friend's house or other places that you trust. Start off with a few minutes apart and gradually build up the time you are away from each other. While the first few days at nursery will still be new and different, at least they will already be used to spending time apart from you.  

Spend time with children who are starting the same nursery

If you know any other children who will be attending nursery with your child, it is a great idea to get together for some play dates with them. This way they will see some familiar faces when they start nursery and already have formed some friendships.

Develop your child's independence

A good idea before starting your child at nursery is to develop key personal skills such as dressing themselves, going to the toilet independently, eating their snack and being able to ask for things. What they are ready for is dependent on their age but any skills they pick up before starting nursery will help them immeasurably and give them a head start. Things to focus on would be pulling trousers up and down, washing hands, eating finger food, opening food containers and asking when they need help or they would like something.   

Key words

A good tip is to help your child build up some key words that will help them at nursery, especially if English is not their first language. Examples of useful words are: water, juice, toilet, please, food, yes, no. This will help your child's carers to fully meet your child's needs. If your child uses another language to express themselves, be sure to write down the key words they may use so their nursery carers can understand them.

Practice routines

Nursery helps children to understand and develop routines. A brilliant idea to help your child would be to get them used to routines at home. Try and create a structure to their day, informing them in plenty of time when you are going to move from one activity to another. Sit together at meal times and encourage family discussion, making it a social time. Try and keep their routine as consistent as possible and practice things such as getting up and dressed in the mornings, every minute is valuable when you have an early nursery or school run to do!

What you can get ready

* Lunch box and water bottle - A great way to get your child excited about nursery is to
involve them in choosing their lunchbox and water bottle. They will love having the opportunity to use their 'grown-up' new things at nursery! Remember to get some ice packs to keep their food cool during the morning. Most nurseries have healthy eating policies, so bear this in mind when shopping for lunchbox snacks and try and include foods that you know your child likes. Generally, it is best to avoid chocolate and sweets, crisps, nut products and sugary drinks. Usually encouraged are fruit or vegetable snacks, healthy sandwiches, juice and yoghurts. Try and include items that your child can use independently and don't forget to give them lots of water and fluids.

* Backpack - As mentioned above, get your child involved in choosing a backpack they like. Bear in mind everything you will need to fit into the bag when choosing it as you may need a bigger one than you think! Most nurseries ask for spare clothes and nappies (diapers). It is also nice to include a favourite toy or soother, especially at the start of nursery. 

* Clothes - Every nursery teacher will agree that the more fun a child has at nursery, the more messy they will be by the end of the day! With that in mind, try and get together a collection of clothes that are suitable for nursery. These should be items that you do not mind getting dirty and ideally things that your child can manage relatively independently. Try and avoid lots of buttons, belts or fiddly catches and go for pull up trousers, skirts and tops. Another tip is to send your child to nursery in appropriate shoes. Backless shoes, flip flops and Crocs can be dangerous as their little feet can easily slip out. Try and use shoes that fit them well and will not fall off or cause them to trip up. Closed toe shoes are a good idea to protect their toes during the day. Check with your nursery when you register as some will have footwear and clothing policies.

* Documentation - Most nurseries will require certain documents when you sign your child up. Try and get these prepared so you are ready, including copies of IDs, vaccination records (making sure that they are all up to date!) and passport photos. Again each nursery may have different requirements so be sure to check with them so you can be prepared.

* Keep in touch! - Don't be afraid to contact the nursery if you have any questions, queries or just want a chat. You will be working together to take care of your child over the next year or more and you should always feel welcomed and happy to approach any member of the nursery team.

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

In my next post I will be discussing potty training and providing some useful tips. See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development.




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