Settling Your Child Into Nursery

Posted: Wednesday March 9 2022

By: Abbie Coleman

Having chosen a calm, safe, welcoming and loving environment, you make plans for your family’s first day!


 By York Montessori & Moortown Nurtury Owner Helen Gration

Before You Start settling your child into nursery life

Having chosen a the right early years nursery school who is a calm, safe, welcoming and loving childcare provider, you make plans for your child’s first day and first time in nursery!

In the weeks and even months before starting nursery, start to prepare your child: you can use the words ‘nursery’ and talk about the people there once you know their names. Point out the setting you have chosen when you walk or drive by it. Read story books about the very same subject. Get them prepared for a new experience in a new environment.

‘SETTLING-IN’ my top tips

  • Parents will want a number of ‘settling-in’ sessions for you and your precious one, a term often used by nurseries to describe the period it takes for you and your child to become comfortable with the room and setting in the best way.
  • An average set of settling-ins will be about 3. However, there have been less and there have been more! Make sure your nursery is flexible and understanding, and the situation suits your child is always a good idea.
  • Settling-in 1 will be a visit (perhaps one, perhaps two) where you stayed for the first session with your child. You will have been shown the forms that need to be completed so that the nursery has plenty of information to help settle in your child, and you will have been met by the Room Supervisor/Leader of the nursery room your child will enter
  • Settling in 2 or 3 will be a visit where you stay for a while and leave your child for a short time. This allows some time for your child to play with the other children and staff, under the care of the Room Supervisor/Leader or their key worker. You don’t’ have to go far – perhaps to the foyer area, or car park, or further afield.
  • You will build to a visit where you leave your child in the care of their key person and room nursery staff for a longer period and that should include a meal.
  • This gradual, stepped process will have shown your child a positive experience of full days with the nursery team – play (indoors and out) and mealtimes, maybe even some children happily going to sleep. It will give your child important memories of various events at this new nursery environment before starting.
  • Some nurseries offer a home visit , where the staff come to your house and visit your child there. This way, there is a connection made out of nursery, which might be important. Again, it lays memories and associations of someone there ‘over here’, looking at favourite teddy bear, books, comforters, where they eat etc.
  • Good nurseries will have other ways of helping you and your child settle in – some personal nick-nacks which belong to your ‘key person’ (the staff member who will be your main contact for your child’s time at nursery), to talk about and help build a relationship.
  • Could there be recipes from the cook so that you can reproduce some of the dishes at home.
  • There definitely should be parents’ events, beyond Parent Evenings where your child’s development is discussed – other ‘fun’ times where parents are invited in to play at nursery is a great way to build positive relationships. This way, nursery is not just a place for your child where you cannot be included. That is incredibly important. So ask if it’s part of their policy.
  • Leave a recording of your voice as you read a story or nursery rhyme. Take in photos of your child at home and with other members of the family, which can be displayed around the room for your child to look at.
  • If your child uses a comforter, take it! They are a ‘comfort’ whether it is available all the time, or for a snuggle at sleep-time.
  • Does your child use a potty, or potty-training – would it be useful to have your type of potty at hand, if the nursery one is different? Take yours in if needs be – but be aware that staff may find it difficult to ensure that others don’t take a seat!
  • Different washing-powder going to be a problem for your child’s sensitive skin? Ask what brand is used and take in your own bed linen if needs be. Most nurseries will use a ‘non-bio’ brand nowadays.

Child’s first day

So you have chosen your early education nursery and your first day approaches. How can you help this whole process even further?…

Keep calm, even if you fake it!

  • Be confident, cheery and encouraging: at the end of the day you have chosen this place for the best reasons having researched the choices. You need help in order to return to work and this place has come up top marks for you. You may have friends who have used the nursery and they have recommended it to you. You have trusted your maternal and natural instincts and felt a bond with how the nursery is run. So, this place is going to help you and your child build a great relationship – new experiences, new people, new things in a nursery setting, new foods, new friends. What a great preparation for life at school and beyond.
  • As you and your child settle and thrive, old nerves are lost, remember to keep the nursery informed of any big change which might unsettle your child again. Changes such as within the family, maybe a new sibling, or moving home, even moving to the ‘big bed’ things which alter your child’s routines. Perhaps you’re changing nursery, or something sadder has happened such as a death of a family member, or family pet. Good nurseries will help with the re-settling for all of that and can be really useful.
  • You’re there, bags are on the peg, your child has arrived in the room. Put aside your nerves and calmly say your bye-byes you are well on your way to settling your child into nursery dont even give a backward glance. It’s often really useful for a child if these aren’t long, even if there are tears, as staying longer can be a really confusing message for them and disturb the settling process. Definitely give a time-frame, one that can be understood, such as “I’ll be here after your lunch. Go and find the train you liked.” The staff will help your child settle after you’ve left, and will be quite truthful about what has happened during the day. Remember, your child is getting used to different people and a new place and will take a little time to be convinced that all is well and he or she is safe. Don’t under estimate the time of separation its a big step for the whole family and can be an anxious time for new parents but in a couple of weeks you will feel more confident and know you will be picking up a happy child at the end of each day.
  • We all know the ‘guilt burden’, but if you’re returning to work, you’re going to need some help with settling your small children into nursery and not all of us have family nearby to step in. We know that some parents are easy with the process, whilst for others, it can be unsettling and a period of anxiety. But the staff should be able to reassure you with, for example, an emailed photo of your child enjoying time during the day. As natural as it is to be anxious about being away from your child, this anxiety can be felt by your child and suddenly present them with a new emotion that is really unsettling for them. So let the nursery give you the help you deserve and keep calm, even if you fake it!

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