As a parent, one of the most stressful times is seeing your child off for their first day of nursery school. Emotionally I thought I was prepared. I was overly-giddy on the way in to school as we chatted away about how much fun he was going to have and how grown up he looked. Admittedly I shed a few tears when I got back to the car. Those tears continued all the way in my car journey to work! However, remembering the way in which he didn’t even give me second glance and skipped off through the doors gave me an enormous sense of pride. For a lot of hard work and preparation had gone in to ensuring the day was a success. Below are some tips to help you do that, and ensure that the transition is a smooth and happy one.
Get Them Socialising
Since he was a few months old I have involved H in a whole number of things. We went to baby sensory classes, toddler groups, and play-barns. I was lucky enough to attend parenting classes and socialise with a few other mums with children the same age and we met up regularly outside of the classes. I also organised childcare with a childminder who was keen on building sociable skills. She networked with a number of other childminders and they met up for play-dates so that he could interact with a number of other children of all ages. He also has a great network of friends that despite not being in the same school, we now meet at various activities as he gets older: swimming, football, martial arts. Which again helps him to integrate in all sorts of social situations and takes the pressure off me.
Box off Potty Training
In Wales, children are entitled to a few hours of childcare from the age of 3. This is great way of gently introducing your child in to the school way of life. It is also great for you as a parent because it gets you in the school routine. Invaluable preparation for when they have to be there on a full time basis and the demands are greater. But with H being one of the youngest in his year it also put the pressure on getting him potty-trained. There is nothing like a deadline to make sure you focus. Potty training your child prior to attending nursery school allows independence. It also means they will not experience any unfortunate accidents that can damage their confidence and willingness to attend class.
Visit the Nursery School
Nursery schools understand that children are going to be a bit worried before heading to nursery for the first time. That is why they are usually completely fine with you popping along to show your child around. Ours had an open day for exactly this reason. It was re-assuring for H to see all the children happily playing together in a learning environment. H got excited about playing with all the equipment such as the sand and water table, the art station, and the building blocks
Emphasise The Positives
Do not put your anxieties on to your child. They will pick up on it. I said at the start of this post that I was super-cheerful on the way in and stressed how I would love to be going inside to play with all the things we had seen on his visit instead of having to go to “stinky work”. Family and friends joined in with the process to help re-emphasise just how good nursery school was for them.
Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
Look at some of the activities your child will be doing in nursery class and start integrating them in to your play at home. Familiarity with the tasks that are expected of them is really important.
Taking your toddler to their first day of nursery school is nerve-racking for you and your child, but if you follow this advice, then hopefully you should find the experience runs a lot more smoothly.