Starting nursery: A smooth transition

Starting nursery: A smooth transition

By Sarah Harney

Congratulations, you have chosen a lovely nursery for your three or four-year-old. Here are some suggestions for how to prepare for this wonderful experience: 

• Try to attend any transition sessions the nursery offers to familiarise your child with the setting; for example, show them where the toilet is located. Be enthusiastic and point out things your child will enjoy. 

• Let the nursery know about your child’s likes and dislikes. If they have an allergy or medical condition, make an appointment to discuss this in detail and make sure the nursery is aware of medication your child needs. 

• Find opportunities beforehand for socialising with other children to practise taking turns and sharing toys and resources. 

• Check if the nursery expects your child to be toilet trained and able to wipe themselves.  

• Encourage your son or daughter to put on and take off their coat. 

• Make sure your child can feed themselves with a fork, knife and spoon, as well as drink from an open cup. Staff will cut up food if it is required or help open boxes or packaging. 

• If the nursery does not have a uniform, dress your child in clothes that are easy to pull on or off and that you don’t mind getting messy. 

• Talk about going to nursery and read books about the experience; for example, Going to Nursery by Catherine and Laurence Anholt. 

• As the day approaches, don’t let your child know that you feel apprehensive or upset at the thought of your ‘baby’ starting nursery. 

• After the initial sessions, get into the habit of saying a cheery goodbye with a kiss or hug: try not to have a long drawn- out, emotional farewell. Children tend to get upset at the thought of parting with you, rather than going to nursery and often stop crying quickly when they see their friends or favourite activities. 

• If you have left your child crying, phone the nursery after 30 minutes to see how they are or ask the key worker to phone you as soon as they have settled. 

If you have any concerns, talk to your child’s key worker or the nursery manager as soon as possible. A good relationship with nursery staff will benefit your child and reassure you. Nursery staff are a good source of advice and support. They will be happy to talk to you about your child.

Sarah Harney, Head of Nursery at Palmers Green High School Nursery, 85 Wellington Road, Enfield, EN1 2PL