Late summer heralds in new beginnings for many; children are off to school for the first time, some are making the transition to high school, adults are off to college and universities and some of our littlest children are beginning their nursery journey.
All of these journeys are full of excitement, mysteries and more than a little trepidation.
As an adult, we have life experiences that give us skills and the ability to manage all these emotions. We know that these feelings are temporary and that in time any anxious feelings will subside.
Babies and little children have no such abilities. They have relied solely on their parents or other significant adults to give them the comfort and security they need to thrive and flourish. Beginning nursery is often the first time that very young children will need to form attachments to unfamiliar adults.
Even older children need support from understanding parents and practitioners to make a smooth transition.
How do practitioners support transitions?
Any practitioners’ first step is to put themselves in the place of these little ones and have a real understanding of what is being expected of them; to know that children will need support and understanding whilst they establish new connections.
They will spend time initially with the child whilst mum or dad or other family member is close by. Having the comfort of a trusted adult nearby gives the child the confidence needed to make those first tentative steps of reaching out to others. Staff will try and find out what toys/ activities the child is interested in and use this information to help establish a positive relationship.
In the Little Stars and Rainbow rooms, the children will play in small groups which help with feelings of security. In the Sunshine room, there are many exciting activities and experiences to encourage new children to come and get involved.
We try to foster feelings of belonging – each child has their own peg and shoe box, displaying their own photo. The Rainbow Room have a “Cuddle Circle” where children can learn about, and experience, what being a good friend means. Staff are always available to talk with parents who have concerns and will happily answer any questions. In each room there are workers who are parents themselves, and understand how difficult it can be leaving your children with someone else. Parents who are anxious can call the nursery any time to check on their child’s progress and if we are friends on Facebook, we will send a pic or two of their day whilst they are settling in.
How can parents can help?
One of the best and easiest ways parents can help is to appear calm, happy and enthusiastic about coming to nursery. Children are super sensitive to moods and can quite skilfully pick up on any anxieties sensed. Find out about their day at nursery and use that to talk about the nursery at home. Be realistic and anticipate there might be tears but know they won’t last.
Once children realise that the people who look after them are kind and fun, there are friends to be made, fun to be enjoyed and most importantly when they know mum or dad will come back, they can relax.
Then, learning can begin.