How can I help my child settle into nursery?
Starting nursery can be beneficial for children and parents, but it can also be a source of anxiety. There are ways to keep the process positive for everyone.
1. Talk about going to nursery
Preparing your little ones helps make going to nursery something to look forward to, rather than a scary new place where they won’t always be with their favourite person – you!
Chat together about what nursery will be like, or share picture books about starting nursery. If the nursery has outdoor play time, you could consider timing your morning walk so your child can see how much fun the other children have playing together.
2. Go for a visit
Visiting the nursery is a chance for you to see what’s on offer, meet staff and ask any questions you may have. It’s also an ideal time to introduce your child to their new nursery!
If they’re old enough, talk with your child about what they saw, felt or enjoyed about their visit.
3. Ask for an induction
The nursery’s settling-in or induction policy should answer lots of your questions, such as whether you’ll be visited at home before starting nursery, who your child’s key person (nursery carer) will be, and how you’ll be involved in introducing and settling your child into nursery.
4. Make it familiar
The nursery may let your child take one or two toys home to play with or look after at home. If you’re given a photo of your child’s key person, look at it together at home and talk about who this new person is. Having a favourite toy or blanket from home to use at nursery can also be very comforting for children.
Don’t be shy about sharing your little one’s routine, favourite things or dislikes with staff. Let them know if you or your child are anxious about starting nursery – they’ll be keen to help you both settle in.
6. Be patient
Getting used to new things isn’t always easy – and, when it comes to settling into nursery, it takes as long as it takes! Start with introductory visits followed by longer periods at nursery to let your little one gradually get used to the new place, routine, toys and grown ups.
7. Take it slowly
Your child may not want to stay a whole session without you at first – and that’s OK! Talk to staff about how you can make this more flexible until your child’s ready to be away from you. There will always be times when little ones want mum or dad: when they fall down or if they’re teething, for example. While they can be upsetting events, children tend to get over them quite quickly.
Your child’s age, experience of separation, family circumstances and personality can all affect when they feel calm and happy to be left at nursery. Ultimately, all children can learn to love going to nursery, and will come to think of it as a wonderful place to make friends, learn skills and enjoy new activities – and that’s something you can delight in, too.
Want more advice or support?
You can talk via online chat to our family support workers and get advice specific to your situation and your family.