Written By: Ruth Steggles, Head of Pre-Prep
For many parents the beginning of September will mean the first day of Nursery class for their child, a real milestone in a child’s life and education.
It can seem very daunting starting at nursery school for both parent and child and as an experienced nursery teacher of 30 years I can still recall my eldest son’s first day, so I never underestimate the fact that it can be a momentous occasion. I always say to parents that once your child is settled in at Nursery they won’t remember the tears of parting, but for us as parents it may be a long time before we forget. I can say this because I have spoken not only to my children but their friends and many of the children I have taught and they never recall the early days of parting from a parent. They may recall an argument with another child over a favourite toy but that’s another story! When I chat to my friends though we all recall saying goodbye at the nursery door, both the good and the bad.
So what advice have I got to give from my years of experience to help both child and parents settle happily into nursery life. Well the first thing to say is you know your child best and you will know a child’s past experiences of parting from you in a variety of experiences, so chat to the nursery teacher and explain what you think works best for your child. Next, if your child has a special toy or object that makes them feel safe and secure it’s a great idea from them to bring it in with them. Give your child a task to do for you while your away, perhaps drawing a picture, building a tower or looking at book (we can take pictures to show you) as this gives them a focus. If it helps give your child the edited highlights of what you will be doing, I suggest making it sound boring in comparison to nursery, so not walking the dog if that’s what they love to do! Young children don’t have much concept of time but it often helps to say that you will be back after singing or story, check with the nursery teacher what the end of session routine is so you can say this clearly and the staff can continue to provide this reassurance that you will come back In regards to this it helps in the early days if you can be at the Nursery as singing/story ends so that your child gets to feel confident that you will pick them up again.
It is important to bear in mind that children watch you to see how you are feeling about the situation, and so the more confident and happy you seem, the better they will feel. Let the nursery teacher know if you would like them to ring or e-mail you after a time to reassure you that your child has settled, we want you to be happy too.
My final thought is to take the time you and your child need to settle in and once they are well settled and happy it will all be worthwhile.
Ruth Steggles, Head of Pre-Prep