Will my baby be happy there?
Monica says: “Parents’ primary concerns are their child settling into nursery and the separation anxiety that comes with it, for both the child and the parent. We do what we can at Ladybird to alleviate both of these concerns through a settling in process, whereby the parent partners with the nursery staff to ensure that their child is well settled as quickly as possible. Once parents have selected a nursery, they should trust the establishment and caregivers to have the best interests of their child in mind. Nevertheless, there should be ongoing communication between the parents and the nursery to ease the process of settling in for both the parents and the child.”
Leanne says: “Parents main concerns are safety, educated staff and the welfare of their child. They worry how their child will separate from them and whether they will be happy in the new environment. They worry that their child won’t make any friends, won’t eat well without them and won’t be able to sleep in a new place. They worry if they are doing the right thing sending their child to nursery and if they are going to benefit and learn anything in the long run. At Jigsaw, we make sure we listen to parents and comfort them, and we welcome them to spend some time in the class to see how we deal with the children. I invite parents to stay in the nursery for the first couple of days during the settling period so they are close by and so we can check on the child. Showing empathy is very important as it is very stressful to leave their most precious little one with us and, of course, it takes time to build trust. I ensure them that we will not only update them throughout the day, but also ensure that their child is safe, engaged and supported.”
Will my baby’s bond with nursery staff affect his bond with me?
Monica says: “The attachment between a child and a mother is not easy to disrupt. As long as the baby has a stable environment at home and at nursery, there should be no disruption. It is quite normal, and even healthy, for a baby to become attached to their caregiver at nursery.”
Leanne says: “Parents will always be the first and most important people and educators in their child’s life. We, as a nursery, can’t – and never would – try or want to compete with that. We aim to complement the care and education a child receives at home and we offer a nurturing learning environment where a child’s personal foundation, which is built at home, can grow.”
Will my older baby, or toddler, be traumatised by being left at nursery?
Monica says: “Parents should feel reassured that the nursery would call them if they felt their child was not coping well and, similarly, they can also reach out to the nursery anytime to check on their child. Settling in is a gradual process and can be done slowly to minimise the stress on all concerned.”
Leanne says: “While we understand that transitioning into a new environment can be very challenging for a young child, we support children and parents and aim to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for everyone. It is important to prepare the child at home by talking about nursery, involving them in buying all the necessary items they need, such as a water bottle, a school bag, a lunch box. Children have to be clearly informed about all the steps and they need time to adjust to so many new faces and a new routine. It can take some time until they feel comfortable and it is a normal part of growing up. Separating from their main carers can cause some anxiety and stress for a young child. However, with the support of qualified and experienced practitioners, they will enjoy their learning journey. The more confident that parents are about the choice of sending their child to nursery, the easier the process will be.”
What can I do to help my baby through this?
Monica says: “Parents can give their child a comfort object from home to bring in during the settling in process. This could be a small napkin, bottle or soft toy that the child can keep with them during the process. We have found this to be a useful strategy that alleviates the stress a child experiences in the early days of settling into a nursery.”
Leanne says: “One of the most important things is to be confident when sending your child to nursery. Your child will feel immediately if you are hesitant, or questioning your decision and he, or she, will pick up on your worries and doubts. Be positive and well prepared. Take time to talk lots about the first day and make sure to say you will always be back to collect them.”
What should I do if my baby cries at drop-off?
Monica says: “During the initial settling in process, we ask the parent to accompany their child in the classroom and ask them to wait outside the classroom for short durations at least during the first week. However, during drop-off it’s imperative that parents should say goodbye to their child and reassure them that they will be coming back to pick them up.”
Leanne says: “It’s best to decide case by case, but sometimes having a parent stay longer can cause more stress for a child. At the same time, there are also children that may benefit from the parent being present a little longer. Some parents can also struggle if they are asked to leave and can lose their trust in the nursery and their practice, therefore evaluating what is best for the child and parent is paramount.”
What if my child isn’t settling?
Monica says: “They should speak to the teacher and share their concerns so they can agree on a strategy for moving forward. We have to remember that every child is a unique individual and their needs during this process can vary considerably.”
Leanne says: “Seek advice from the teacher, or manager. Home-to-nursery communication is important in order for the child to get the most out of nursery and be the best they can be.”
What are the warning signs of a child not settling?
Monica says: “Children that are struggling with settling into their new environment could have tantrums in the morning, or even nightmares. These should subside as the child begins to settle in. Signals such as excessive bedwetting (if the child was previously toilet-trained), or continuous tantrums, could be warning signs if the child continues to not settle.”
Leanne says: “Watch out for acting out, attention seeking, crying before arriving at nursery, lack of sleep, loss of appetite and generally being unsettled.”
Is nursery the right choice for my child?
Monica says: “Children can benefit greatly from a nursery education in many ways. They acquire new skills and develop socially, emotionally and physically. They also learn to share and contribute with others. Research shows children who attend a good preschool enter schools with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills than those who don’t. Preschool provides a solid foundation for learning, both socially and academically.”
Leanne says: “Nurseries work towards ensuring all children are prepared for school. They support children’s personal development and strengthen their social skills, while allowing them to learn how to be part of a group. We welcome all children and are supporting their development in a holistic and individual ways.