Many parents will find their toddlers excited about going to school for the first time. However, some parents also have kids who won’t be happy whenever you broach the subject of enrolling them in a nursery school anytime soon.
Properly preparing your toddler before he or she goes to a British nursery school, for example, or preschool will help you have a less challenging and stressful time of introducing him or her to the world of formal schooling. It will also help you a lot in the transition from being home all day to bringing and leaving your child in school every day to learn.
Below are some helpful tips for preparing your child as he or she makes the transition from home to the nursery:
1. Have multiple talks with your toddler before school starts
A month or so before your child starts nursery, talk to him or her every day about this upcoming milestone. Explain to your child that at everyone at their age attends preschool. Don’t forget to mention in your talks the highlights of going to a nursery school such as learning new things, playing games, and making new friends.
You will also do well to read books about going to nursery to your child before school starts. By doing so, your toddler will be familiar with the concept of schooling even before he or she steps inside a classroom. In addition, reading stories to your child will help him or her understand and accept that nursery is a natural part of growing up.
2. Visit the nursery with your child
Once you have chosen a school, visit the campus or classroom with your toddler. Observe how he or she responds to the new setting. Watch how the carers or teachers interact with your child as well.
Once you are home, speak with your toddler and ask him or her how he or she finds the school and staff. Talk about the positive and interesting elements of the school such as the activities they have, the nice and fun teachers, the playground, etc.
Encourage your child to be honest throughout your conversations. Let your toddler talk about his or her worries. Address these issues as well as you can.
If you can’t answer a question, don’t hesitate to visit the school with your child again and let a teacher or staff talk to him or her personally.
3. Help your child broaden his or her social circle
Once your toddler enters nursery, he or she will be surrounded by new faces. Help your little one avoid being overwhelmed in a new environment full of strangers by letting him or her play with other kids before school starts.
Prior to the start of school, set up different playdates with kids your toddler knows and others he or she hasn’t met yet. Do this twice or thrice a week leading up to the start of school. You can also consider enrolling your child in a short, fun summer academic camp where he or she can meet other children and even start learning new things.
By doing so, you will help build up your child’s socialization skills. This, in turn, will help your child strengthen his or her ability to relate to others. And once he or she has new friends in school, your toddler will be more excited and happy about going to school every day.
4. Build your toddler’s self-help skills
Your child will have an easier time coping with and being inside a new environment without you if you help him or her build his or her self-help skills first.
Most nursery-aged kids are expected to fasten their shoes on their own, pick up their toys, put their things inside their bags, and push their chairs back in after eating. They should also already have the habit of washing their hands after using the toilet or whenever they are dirty.
Make sure you help your child practice doing all these and more at home, especially before he or she starts nursery.
5. Establish a routine
Lastly, your toddler may have difficulties following a fixed schedule once he or she starts going to school. You can help him or her cope with this by implementing a loose schedule at home first. This loose schedule will allow your toddler to familiarize him or her with the concept of following a routine.
A study has shown that children who have regular family routines are more likely to be emotionally healthy and be better adjusted socially. If you want your child to do well in school now and in the future, you will do well to establish a family routine now.
Start by establishing a routine for eating dinner, going to sleep, waking up, etc. Try not to be strict about following these schedules for the first week but gradually become less lenient and ensure they are followed.
Even if you won’t be with your toddler full time when he or she starts attending nursery, you need to be a constant presence in his or her life. This means dropping off at and fetching him or her from school every day. Also, always ask your toddler how his or her day has gone and help him or her with any assignments. Be as involved as you can so that your child can breeze through nursery confidently.
Lama Chivi is the CEO of Blossom by Babilou Education in the UAE. Having lived in Dubai for over 30 years, she combines the best of international practice and local expertise into this leading British Curriculum Nursery, delivering a top-tier and high-quality offering to the MENA region. The mission of Blossom by Babilou Education is to support children in building their own identity, self-discovery and awakening while respecting their own pace and their uniqueness.