Having a daily schedule can help ease your child’s transition to the structure of a nursery setting. Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine. Routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. Choose regular times for your child to eat, play and sleep each day. This will help your child to know what to expect and what is expected from him.
Plan a sneak peek of the nursery
Arrange a visit to the nursery. Most nurseries will welcome and let you and your child join in part of or during all day. You will both be able to familiarize yourselves with the staff and possibly meet potential friends. Knowing what to expect eases anxiety and will help your child (and you) feel more secure. If you are going to hire a babysitter to take your child home from nursery, hire her or him few months earlier to help your child adjust to the new person.
Your child needs plenty of practice for developing his own social skills. Try to enrol him in a group where they already know some of the other children. If possible, arrange play dates with other children who will be in the group. The children will benefit from seeing a friendly face the first day in nursery.
Talk about nursery
You can also help your child prepare for nursery by talking about what will happen. Encourage their questions and expressions of feelings, but be careful not to transmit any anxieties you may have. Children are very intuitive about adults’ emotional responses. If your child gets scared promise him that you will pick him/her up in a few hours or after a certain activity in nursery (e.g., when the nursery worker sings a certain song or reads the last book of the day). You may also come up with a good-bye ritual that will be both entertaining and help reduce his anxiety.
Look out for separation anxiety
It’s perfectly natural for children to experience separation anxiety during the first few weeks when they’re dropped off at nursery. Be prepared for a few tears, but stay positive so that your child doesn’t pick up any anxious feelings you may have about leaving him/her. Don’t prolong the goodbye, even if he’s crying hysterically, as that will only make the separation more difficult for both of you. Keep in mind that they will most likely only cry for a few minutes once you’re out of sight. Once your child adjusts to the new nursery setting, goodbyes will be much easier.