Sunday, 7 September 2014

Helping your little one settle at nursery!

Well it's back to school time and for some, it may be their first experience of being apart from mum
and dad. It can be a difficult time, knowing what to do and how to help your little one settle in at nursery. Don't worry, you are not alone! In this post, I have tried to give you the tools that I believe help both yourself and your child with separating. Remember, this will be a gradual process that needs taking one step at a time.

1. Visit the nursery

Before the big day, bring your little one to the nursery as often as you can. Meet the teacher and tell them all the things you think they need to know about your child. Talk to them about ways to settle or soothe them. Give the teacher a soother or favourite toy to help them settle. Let your child play in the classroom and get used to the environment and the people they will be with. We all know as an adult going to new places and meeting new people can be daunting, it is harder for a toddler who doesn't have control of what is happening or possibly the language to express themselves.

2. Getting ready

Try and get into the routine for nursery before you start going. Wake up at the time you would need to for nursery and have a nice healthy breakfast. Upsetting the morning routine will mean you have a tired, emotional child and this will make settling in harder for them to cope with. Talk to them about nursery and get them excited about all the things they will see and do!

3. Saying goodbye

This can be the tricky bit and the make or break moment. There is so much advice out there but for me, these are the key points:

Stay Positive - children learn how to deal with situations by reading their parents or carers emotions.
Although leaving your little one for the first time may be extremely difficult, try and keep it together until you have said goodbye. If they know you are anxious and upset, they will be too. 

Keep it short - once your child is in the classroom and with a teacher, try and say goodbye confidently and quickly. Tell your child you will be back soon and that you love them, then leave. Although it may go against every instinct in your body, don't hover anxiously or come back if they start crying as if you do, this will make the settling in process take much longer and become more traumatic for both of you. 

Say goodbye - it can be tempting to make a quick exit while your child is distracted. Although this is very tempting, try and fight the urge to run. When they turn around and suddenly realise you have gone, they will be hurt and confused. Saying goodbye and telling them when you will be back will build your child's trust and confidence in leaving you. 

Be consistent - Try and follow the same routine for drop off and pick up. Your child will become used to the routine so give them the hug, say goodbye and go in the same way each day. This prepares your child and reassures them that you are coming back. When you pick up be happy and smiley, give your child a big hug and ask them to show you what they have been doing today. Remind them that you have come back as you said you would. 

4. Give it a chance

It can be difficult seeing your child unhappy and very tempting to pull them out of nursery. Try and
give them a chance to settle and get used to the environment first as in the long run the benefits they will get out of nursery will outweigh the initial anxiety. Quite often, children are happy to play and get involved once their parents have gone, ask for photos from the teacher to reassure you that this is the case.

5. Surprise visits

Although it can be tempting to come back and see if your child is okay, try and resist the urge to do this. If they see you, you will end up going through the whole process again. Also they will not understand why you have come back but not taken them home. Make sure that any time you enter the classroom after dropping them off, it is to pick them up. This will help them settle. If you are concerned, call the nursery and ask them to check on your little one. While it is best to avoid doing this often as you need to build your trust in the nursery, they should be happy to reassure you that your child is doing fine. 

6. Build a partnership with the nursery

If you want your child to bond with their carers, there needs to be trust all round. Get to know their teachers and give them as much information about your little one as you can. Then trust them to do what they have trained to do and leave. Be assured they have your child's best interests at heart and will do all they can to provide the best care they can for your child. 

7. Remember the benefits 

It can be easy to forget the reasons you decided to put your child in nursery in the first place. Nursery
will give them the tools they need to develop as happy, sociable and independent little learners. Learning to separate from their parents is just one of those tools and all the experiences they have at nursery will prepare them for school and beyond. It is good for both of you to have a break from each other, whether it is to go back to work or simply for some 'me time' and it gives them the opportunity to develop their identity as an individual. 

No matter how much reassurance I give, you are bound to feel worried and anxious. It is fine to feel all these things, the main priority however is to help your little one. If you use the guidelines above, you will be doing your best to give your child an positive start at nursery. Good luck!

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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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