How to prepare your child for their first day at nursery

first day at nursery

Starting at nursery or preschool can be a scary time for a child who has never been apart from mum for that long before. It can also be a fun place where children learn and play with new friends. To make sure that your kid experiences this second option as soon as possible, there are some excellent ways to help your little ones make this big transition.

First, ease your kids into the new system. If they are going to be cared for several days per week, start with only one or two. This will give them a chance to get used to facility, staff, and other children, without having to bear up under a challenging new schedule right away. You’ll also be able to spend more personal time with your child to deal with any problems or anxieties.

It’s important to be upbeat and encouraging when sending your child to a new day nursery. Children pick up on your emotions, and any anxiety on your part can send a signal that what’s about to happen is uncertain and scary. It’s equally helpful for parents not to seem distraught at the idea of leaving your child behind. It’s OK to miss the tykes, but don’t communicate it to them as if you’re leaving for war. This will help them to be more courageous in their newfound independence.

Be quick about your dropoff. Time and time again, daycare workers have observed parents that stay too long. Trying to comfort a child’s anxiety, they might actually be stoking the fire. With a quick drop-off, the child has to adapt to the new situation in just a few minutes, without having the normal comforting parental figure to rely upon. This might seem hard on the child, but it’s probably for the best in the long run.

Leave an item for your child to remember you by – even if it’s just for a few hours. A scarf or other personal item smells like you and feels familiar. It works like a security blanket, but one that’s linked to you personally. This is common practices for a day nursery Belfast-style, and it’s one which will work equally well anywhere else in the world.

Although it sounds harsh and will pull on your heartstrings, don’t pay too much attention to crying. It’s absolutely normal for children to cry when a parent leaves them at nursery so please don’t let that mum guilt take hold of you! One daycare said that about 75% of kids do this, but that most are just fine a few minutes later. Some children might cry to see if Mum or Dad might changes their mind and not go away for the afternoon. If you’re worried about the outburst, ask the nursery workers at pickup time how long the episode lasted. If it’s normal, then you have nothing to worry about (and it’s almost always normal).

How to prepare your child for their first day at nursery

Do you have a child starting nursery soon? What are your concerns? Do share in a comment below.

*This is a collaborative post 

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  1. I think being quick with the drop off is key – my daughter has always loved nursery, luckily, but when she’s a bit more emotional we have to make a quick drop off to reduce the risk of her getting upset. x

  2. T’s first day at reception was a bit traumatic for her and us, but like every one said, this is just a phase. They’ll settle soon and it’s so true, kids are resilient! 😉

  3. I work in a nursery and it’s frustrating when the parents linger as it makes the child worse if they are upset. Also don’t say anything negative in front of them as they do listen and it tends to make them worse – if you have to pass a message on, do it out of earshot 🙂

  4. My little boy is off to nursery school at the local primary school on Tuesday. I am feeling a tad nervous as he has only just turned 3 last week and he will be in a school with children as old as 10, although obviously, he will apart from them most of the time x

  5. Good tips. It seems so long ago now that my 6 year old started nursery! I’d just say to parents that don’t feel too guilty if there’s tears for the first week – I can guarantee they stop the minute you walk out the door and they’re distracted by the staff!

  6. Preparing a child for their first day of nursery isn’t something I’ve had to do yet – but I can imagine that it’s quite a stressful yet exciting time for both the parent and child involved x

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