It’s a big moment in any child’s life, the first time they spend a morning or afternoon in a playgroup, nursery or pre-school away from Mum and Dad. Most children take to the experience like a duck to water, but as with any new experience there can be teething problems while they settle in. A little preparation by the parents in the weeks leading up to starting can ease the process considerably.
Talk to Them
Explain to your child about the new place they are going, and take them on a visit if you are able. Make sure they know that although you will be leaving them, you will be back a short time later. Most of the tears and upset stems from the fact that children are unsure what is going on, and worry that their parents will not be coming back. It takes a long time for information to sink in for some children, so you may have to repeat what is going to be happening several times a day, for a week or more.
Children are very smart, and if a parent is showing any degree of anxiety about leaving their children in a playgroup, they will undoubtedly pick up on that. Even when not talking directly to the child, make sure everything you say about the new nursery is positive. If you know other parents whose children are attending already, invite them round with their children so they can get to know one another and your child has a familiar face on their first day. Make it all sound like a big adventure and your child with skip through the doors without a care in the world.
One mistake which many parents make is thinking that playgroup is some sort of fashion parade. Children are going to come home with play dough, paint, glitter or glue all over their clothes, so keep the designer outfits and party dresses for wearing at home. Some parents invest in a special set of clothes just for nursery, so buy jeans which will wear well but it won’t matter if they get muddy or splashed with paint. It is also wise to leave a bag with an extra pair of jeans, t-shirt and underwear at nursery so that if your child gets wet or too dirty the staff can change them into something else.
Get to Know People
Most nurseries are happy to let parents stick around for a while as their child settles in, and many of the playgroups which are not based in schools will welcome in volunteers to help with the running of the group. This can be an excellent way to get to know other parents and their children, and make a whole new set of friends. Getting to know the staff will give you more reassurance about leaving your child, and if you are on good terms with them they will be happier to share information with you on an informal basis.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Morag P is a mother and blogger, writing on many different subjects including parenting and travel. Morag Peers has a Google+ profile if you wish to find out more.