When the time comes for little ones to go to nursery school it can seem daunting for both the parents and the child. This can be a new experience for the family unit or perhaps some are doing it for the second or third time so they feel like pros, but for the bulk, it can seem like unknown territory.
Preparation is key, especially in the first few weeks before attending Nursery, then when they settle in there is another routine to get into. It can seem never-ending at times but the focus is still the same, it’s solely on the child and getting them prepared for their new role in being independent and learning a whole new set of social skills about the people and world around us.
There are several ways to help easy the transition period at home and after they get settled.
Before beginning Nursery
1. Teach your child the name of their teacher and the nursery assistant. Explain what their jobs are, what they help with and how exciting it is going to be meeting them.
2. Share books at home and do plenty of reading and singing nursery rhymes. When a reading circle or singing performance takes place in school the child will then understand what is happening and can also join in.
3. Encourage them to become a little more independent. Teach them how to get their coat on, to use the toilet and to wash their hands. They should be able to attempt to put their shoes and welly boots on or even use a tissue to wipe their nose.
4. If they spend most of their time at home try where possible to arrange for them to spend some time elsewhere for example with grandparents so they get used to the separation.
5. Always be honest with them. Let them know where you are going and that you will always be coming back, and then do that.
6. Start getting into a good bedtime routine. Nursery school is exhausting! An early bedtime is vital if they want to enjoy the activities the next day.
Once they have started to settle in
7. Allow enough time for them to get ready in the morning. Children adapt quickly so they will want to dress themselves, get their breakfast ready themselves, get their coat on etc as this is what they are encouraged to do in nursery. This can all take time and in the same vein be stressful if done in a rush.
8. Make sure they attend regularly. Children get used to and love a routine and regular attendance allows them to settle in and make friends. If the child misses several days from school then friendships can move on and missed learning can cause frustration from the child being left behind.
9. Be Punctual. Children who are late are difficult to settle and if a parent is late at collection time this can be distressing for the child.
10. Encourage all the new learning at home. Set tasks to tidy up, set the table, pour the drink and carry the dirty dishes over to the sink or dishwasher. Children thrive on this independence and then be sure to offer praise for all the great jobs.
Remember this is a very important and special time in a child’s learning and development stage before starting school. The more they are encouraged and supported, the better the experience will be for everyone involved.