5 Top Tips For Starting Nursery Or Pre-School

Guest blog written by Amelia Cunningham.

For some of us parents, the time has come for our babies and toddlers to start nursery or pre-school. With September now in reach, many of us are starting to think about getting our little ones ready for this new chapter of independence and it’s safe to say that the timing isn’t brilliant.What with everything that has gone on in the world recently, I think we can probably all be in agreement that we have been giving our children a tighter squeeze at bedtime.  

Whether you are sending your baby into nursery for the first time or they’re returning after the summer... or whether your toddler will be a newbie to pre-school or they are also returning after the summer, it’s going to be a challenge for all of us.

It’s important to remember that your little one will be getting a lot of support, guidance and plenty of fun during their time at nursery or pre-school... But let’s be honest, we are all just picturing them screaming for us at the door. 

My son will be three next month and after almost three years of him at home with me, he will be starting pre-school. 

I was worried about how he would cope being away from his dad and I before we went into lockdown and now that we haven’t been around many people or social situations, I am concerned even more with how he will react. 

What reassures me the most is the comfort from other mums who have been through it. They’re advice is almost always the same thing - “it will be tough at first, but it WILL get better. It’s tougher on you, than them.” I’ve been telling myself this in the lead up and will continue to do so up until he is settled... so feel free to take these words of mama wisdom for your own comfort too! 

In the meantime, here are a few extra pointers that should help you in the lead up and once your baby or toddler fleas the nest for their very first stage of independence...

1. Induction / taster session 

Visiting the nursery/pre-school may be under slightly different rules and regulations at the moment. Find out when you can have an introduction / taster session so that your little one can familiarise themselves with their key worker and their new surroundings which will be a great help to ease them in. 

Planning to stay a little while to help with the transition isn’t something that will be as relaxed as it once was. Your nursery or pre-school might say that parents cannot enter and little ones may need to be met by their key worker at the door upon arrival. If that’s the case, let’s just say we need to expect it to be tough to start with. 

Your nursery / preschool should ring to let you know how your child is after a while of you leaving and from learnt experience they always tend to say they’re fine but of course the option is there to come back if they’re not settling after some time. 

2. Resist running back in

As hard as it might be, try to resist the urge to run back in to collect your little one. It may prolong the time it takes your child to adapt if they know you will always come back in the moment they get upset. 

The teachers will have untold amounts of experience dealing with children who are distressed at the beginning, and they will be right there to make the transition easier for your child. 

3. Take extra note of the non-verbal gestures from your little one 

Even if your little one is a chatterbox, they might not be able to fully express their feelings just yet. Instead, once they start nursery or pre-school, they might become distressed, extra clingy, or quiet, so these are the things to look out for during the transitional period.

Another common one is regression in certain things that you thought you had already mastered. For example, they might stop using their knife and fork properly, or even have toilet accidents. Whatever it might be, your patience and understanding is what will comfort your child the most during this transition when it comes around.

 4. Stay positive & upbeat

It’s a big change for you watching your little one approach this milestone, and while it might be worrying and upsetting, staying positive and upbeat is key. It will most definitely reflect onto your child and give them more of a positive outlook towards the transition too!

5. Give them confidence 

They might be worried you won’t come back, be sure to be on time when you collect them and if you’ve promised a snack or to bring a toy then you must bring it without fail! 
They might find it comforting to have something in school that reminds them of you, if they feel sad or need a cuddle then you could draw a heart or smile on both your hands to remind them you are there with them (think Dumbo and his feather). 

Best of luck mama’s! We’ve got this!