How to prepare your child to start nursery

From what to pack, to recommended reading and coping with school gate goodbyes, SoGlos spoke to Dean Close Little Trees Nurseries about preparing your child for nursery.

By Eleanor Fullalove  |  Published
Karen Green at Little Trees Cheltenham has devoted her career to ensuring children meet their full potential, drawing on an impressive 30 years’ experience in childcare.
Karen Green at Little Trees Cheltenham has devoted her career to ensuring children meet their full potential, drawing on an impressive 30 years’ experience in childcare.

Starting nursery is an exciting – if slightly scary – step for children (not to mention their parents) and how they react to this new stage in their life will be different for everyone.

SoGlos spoke to Dean Close Little Trees Nurseries to find out how to make the transition as smooth as possible, from what books to read in the run-up, to coping with school gate goodbyes, and how parents can reassure themselves their children are happy and settled.

About the expert – Karen Green, Little Trees Cheltenham manager

Karen Green from Dean Close Little Trees has experienced a wide range of different settings over the course of her 30-year career in childcare.

She has a passion for ensuring that all children get the best possible start in life to meet their full potential.

There are three Little Trees Nurseries in Gloucestershire – two in Cheltenham and one in Gloucester – all part of the Dean Close Foundation, which also includes Dean Close School in Cheltenham.

Children at Little Trees benefit from the knowledge and experience of skilled staff committed to finding innovative new ways of meeting the individual needs of every child.

How should parents explain going to nursery to children?

Depending on your child’s age and understanding, you can talk to them about nursery in positive terms and treat it as an adventure to look forward to. Children are receptive to your reactions and feelings and will pick up if you are feeling anxious. Some books we would recommend reading to your child in the lead up to starting nursery are Maisy Goes to Nursery by Lucy Cousins, Let’s go to Nursery! by Caryl Hart and Spot Loves Nursery by Eric Hill.

Dean Close Little Trees offer ‘settling in sessions’ – what are these?

During your settle session before your child starts at a Little Trees Nursery, we ask you lots of questions about your child’s likes and dislikes, how long your child sleeps and more. As a parent, you know your child best, so sharing this valuable knowledge means we can mirror home life as much as possible. Each child also benefits from a key person, introduced at the ‘settling in’ session. They will create a special relationship with this person, who will provide your child with a huge amount of comfort and security.

What if my child has additional needs?

All our nurseries have staff who have been trained in supporting children with additional needs, so you can be reassured that they will be happy and safe. We can offer further settling in sessions if parents and staff feel it would be in the child’s best interests too.

What are your top tips for avoiding tears when dropping children off?

Say goodbye in a calm and brief manner and tell your child that you’ll be back. Although your child might be upset, prolonging the goodbye can sometimes cause more distress. Even if your child is a little upset when you drop off them off, chances are they will be engrossed in their play a few minutes later.

What should I do if my child doesn’t want to go to nursery?

There may be times when a child is upset on the journey to nursery, but the best thing is to be consistent and continue to reassure them that you will return to collect them later. We know it can be hard to leave your child when they are upset, but we can give you reassurance through the day using our Famly app, when we can send you pictures and messages.

What do children need to have with them at nursery?

Spare clothing – especially if your child is toileting – baby wipes and nappies; outdoor clothing such as a warm coat, hats and gloves for the winter months; a sun hat and factor 50 sun cream for the summer months; and a comfort item to help if your child is unsettled or needs this for nap times. We ask that all of the above is in a backpack and it is helpful if everything is labelled with your child’s name.

How does starting nursery affect a child’s routine?

We aim to follow the routines you have at home. However, your child may be a little tired in the first few days, as they will have had lots of stimulation and could be a bit restless at night. This is natural and will soon pass.

What are some of the activities offered at Dean Close Little Trees Nurseries?

We plan weekly learning for each child based on their interests, so this can vary from child to child. A typical day will include circle time (depending on their age), story time, song time, outdoor learning in our large gardens, sensory play, construction, imaginative play and much more!

How will parents know if their children are happy and settled at nursery?

We hold regular parents’ evenings where we discuss how your child is getting on. We also communicate with you about your child’s learning journey using the Famly app. We use this to communicate to parents about their child daily, with invoices also sent via the app too.

More on Little Trees Nurseries

More from Family