Many of us have had the experience of picking up a child from their new nursery and being amazed by how happy and relaxed they are after just a few weeks there, waving goodbye to their new friends, running to the exit like they own the place and singing that day’s song-time tune (it always seems to be twinkle twinkle little star!) as they go. None of this should really be a surprise: it’s just yet another reminder of how resilient and adaptable small children are.
But whether it’s the first or fifth child, it’s an admittedly daunting time sending your little one off into the big wide world. The first thing to remember is that, that big wide world is in fact a cosy, warm nursery room!
After that, there are a few practical things you can do to make sure the transition runs as smoothly as possible:
- Practice the journey before the first day of nursery to make sure there won’t be any unnecessary stresses on the morning itself, and while you’re at it show your child where they will be going and talk to them about all the fun they’re going to have there!
- By this point you’ve hopefully had the chance for the odd night out without your little one but it’s possible they won’t have spent many of their waking hours away from you. If so, think about arranging a few afternoons for your child to spend with a family member, friend or babysitter to get them used to the idea of you not being there, while you enjoy a little bit of well-earnt freedom!
- Most nurseries will encourage a phased start and it’s a good idea to do this as much as your schedule allows. Being in a new environment, surrounded by lots of new people can be tiring for youngsters so building up to a full day a few hours at a time will help a lot. And if you have any friends or family who might be able to pick your child up early on the odd day, especially at the beginning, this can be a nice treat.
- Speaking of getting tired… while there will of course still be nap time at nursery, children may not sleep as well as at home, especially at the beginning, so don’t be surprised if they come home sleepy, and make sure to stick to nice early bed times.
- Of course in the order of importance in little peoples’ lives, after sleep comes food: consider taking along a small snack when you pick your child up from nursery to keep them going until dinner.
Nursery is a fun stage before real school starts and it’s more about play than learning in any kind of rigorous or structured sense. Following the tips above will hopefully mean that your child will be settled in and having fun with a whole troop of new friends before you know it. Just get ready for lots of renditions of twinkle twinkle little star!