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Starting Nursery

What to expect when your child starts nursery

By National Day Nurseries Association 

Your child starting nursery can be an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand you may be desperate to get back to work for adult conversation and looking forward to getting a bit of the ‘old you’ back. On the other hand, you might be feeling worried and guilty about leaving your little one. It’s normal to experience a variety of these feelings. Rest assured it won’t be long before both you and your child are enjoying being part of the nursery community.

We will look at what you should expect from your nursery during the settling in period, how you can help your child to settle and how you can develop new supportive friendships.

What should I expect from my nursery...?

Every nursery will have its own settling in procedure, below is an example of what to expect.

    First visit: 

    You will be invited to visit the nursery for an hour with your child. You will stay and play and talk to staff about your child’s routines and anything else you feel that is important to share. You may be asked to fill in some paperwork that will help staff get to know how your child is developing and what they are interested in. This will help them plan activities for your child when they start.

    Second visit:

    You will be invited back for another short visit. If your child is settled and happy, the staff will probably ask you to leave for about half an hour. If you don’t feel ready that’s fine but you must explain your reasons to the staff so they can support you in the way you need. Good two-way communication is key to developing a successful partnership.

    Third visit:

    On the third visit you will normally drop your child off for an hour. If both you and your child are happy after this visit, you will be invited to drop your child off for a full session.

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    During the visits, you will be introduced to your child’s key person. This person will be your main point of contact and will look after all your child’s care and learning needs

    Your child will be well looked after by all members of the team but your key person will keep a close eye on your child’s progress. With babies, the key person will particularly make sure that their normal routine is followed including how they like to be fed and put down to sleep.

    If you have a child with special educational needs and/or disability, you should ask to meet with the nursery Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).

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    About the contributor

    NDNA partnered with Acamar Films, producer of the award-winning preschool series Bing, to bring parents some helpful tips and suggestions to support them during the ups and downs of children’s transitions.

    NDNA are the national membership organisation and the voice of day nurseries in the UK: the people behind the people who care, and champion the best for our children. By providing early years training, advice and guidance, we give your nursery the edge, an advantage that makes it the best it can be.


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