Lucy Bruce and Beverley Jatwani, owners of Dubai’s most sought after nursery, Homegrown Nursery, tells us parents how to get our children ready for their first day at nursery. The nursery has a British based curriculum and has two locations on either side of the Al Manara junction.
It’s a exciting but nerve wrecking time as September approaches with many mums and dads getting their children ready for their first day at nursery. Can you give 5 tips (or more) on what parents can do during the holidays to get their little ones ready for nursery?
As you mentioned, starting your child for his/her first time at nursery can bring many different emotions to the surface and parent’s suddenly face the realization that their child will face a new environment, people and routine. For some it is a sense of relief and support and for others it can be a time of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. Once you have made the decision to send your child to nursery you need to commit to your decision and embrace the new positive experience that your child will eventually experience. Here are a few tips that will help prepare you and your child for their first day at nursery:
#Get excited together. Spend a day looking for lunch boxes, back packs, new shoes etc and put them in a special place where you both know that they can be finally used when the first day of nursery comes.
#If you spend almost every day with your child and they are very rarely away from you, now would be a good idea to start to slowly try to leave your child with someone you trust for an hour or so a day. This will help them become aware that they can trust other adults and that you trust people to care for your child too. It will also get your little one more used to being away from you for short periods so it is not such a shock to you both when the big day comes.
#Make a visit together to the nursery and be sure to spend some time in the nursery environment together. Most nurseries do have Family Days where Mum, Dad and primary care givers can spend time together in their new classroom and with their teachers and get to know one another which is a huge help for all.
#Make sure that you talk to your child about nursery beforehand discuss all the new and exciting experiences they will soon encounter at nursery. Let your little one know that nursery is their special place to have fun and make friends. Be sure to answer your child’s questions honestly but the important thing to stress is that you will ALWAYS be there to pick them up when their day is over.
#If your child has not spent much time around other children, try to get them out and about with other children of a similar age. Introducing them to new children in unfamiliar surroundings will help prepare them for nursery and encourage them to begin their social exploration.
When nursery starts, what can parents do to help your little ones settle down with their new teacher and new friends especially in the first week?
It is really important that you are as consistent as you possibly can during your child’s first days at nursery. This starts at home with the morning routine, having breakfast together, making getting ready for nursery a fun and exciting activity by singing songs and talking about what a fun day your child will have and having a good time together during your journey to nursery. Once you and your child are in the classroom with your teacher it is important that you show your child how confident and happy you that your child is finally at nursery.
It is always a good idea to spend some time in the class with the child though not all nurseries allow this. When you are in the classroom, be sure to introduce your self to other parents and it’s always a good idea to arrange play dates outside the nursery with the children in your child’s class to help with the familiarization of new faces. Your child needs to form new bonds with the teachers at staff at the nursery so do not resist the teacher’s advise and allow her to take control on the morning, this will also demonstrate to your child that you are also ready to listen to and follow instructions from the teacher.
Some parents can’t bear leaving their little ones, who are inconsolable, when they walk out the classroom. What can parents do to reassure themselves and their child?
The most important thing is to stay positive. Parents who become upset and anxious in front of their child will naturally pass on their concerns to their children which has an extremely negative effect on the settling period. It may be your first time in experiencing such separation anxiety but remember that your teachers have been trained and have experience in handling these sensitive and upsetting situations, so do follow their lead. Remind yourself that this difficult period will pass and your child will soon be experience all of the benefits that made you want to send your child to nursery. Remind yourself and your child that you will be reunited soon and that they are at nursery to have fun.
Try not to enter the classroom once you have left unless you are called by the teacher. Parents that constantly pop in and out confuse the child and they can begin a pattern of becoming even more upset in the hope that the parent will come back again. If you have concerns ask to speak to the teacher or even a member of the management who will then offer you extended support and advice. Be constant and persistent and remember that you are giving your child a wonderful opportunity ahead.
What steps can parents follow when saying goodbye in the morning?
Do not ever feel that you have to rush your goodbye in the mornings. Teachers will always welcome you to some time in the morning with your child in the classroom but do not linger too long. Your teacher will always signal when they think it’s time for you to go. Hug your child, say goodbye and be sure to always mention that you will be back in a while to pick them up after they have had their special time with their friends and teachers.
Try to resist the urge to go back to your child once you have said goodbye, even if they are crying. Signal to your teacher that you will wait outside and they will pop and see you with news of how your child is once a few minutes is passed and hopefully your child will be more settled. Keep your goodbye happy and positive and keep smiling.
What if the child still cries after the first week?
There is a very high chance that your child will cry during the first and second week of nursery but try to remember that this is perfectly normal and your child will soon be running in the classroom with a big smile on their face. As adults, we also can feel strange and uneasy when stepping into environments with new people but we have the tools to rationalize and cope with the situation. A child does not have these tools and can not always communicate so tears are only natural, but like us, they soon get familiar with their new surroundings and people and will make great friends and adore their teachers.
Nursery starts around 8am, what time do you recommend that most children are in bed so that they are refreshed for schools?
We always advise that children are in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. The sooner that they get into a routine the easier the mornings will become. Children who consistently arrive late to nursery do miss out on many learning and social opportunities and can disturb the class if they are in the middle of a teacher lead activity.
Can you give some suggestions on what children should bring to school for food during the day?
Typically a child will need a snack if they stay until 12.30pm and lunch also if they stay beyond that. Try to pack plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables that can be dipped in yoghurt or humus, cheese cubes and raisons are also loved by children. Mini sandwiches, wraps and pittas are always a hit. We find that children always become more adventurous with food when they see their peers eating the foods that they have previously avoided and I have to say that I have never seen a child throwing food on the floor or complaining about their food at nursery. They quickly learn good table manners and will make sure that they do not go hungry. If you do have a particularly picky eater do discuss your concerns with your teacher.
Are there certain foods that children should not have in their lunchbox?
Always avoid fried and sugary foods such as crisps, cake and biscuits, even if you are worried that your child is not eating anything. We have seen quite a few parents pack left over pizza or takeaway food which we strongly advise against. Remember that nurseries are a nut free zone and if a child has a particular allergy in your class, you may be requested not to pack that food item for your own child’s snack. Your nursery nurse can help you plan a menu if you are concerned with what is and isn’t suitable, and will gently let you know if you are sending your child with a food item that is not recommended by the nursery.
What else should the parent put into the child’s school bag?
Don’t be afraid to pack your child’s favourite book, comforter or toy, these are all things that will help your child feel more relaxed during the early days at nursery. Also pack plenty of spare close as your little one may get messy while they are having fun. Most nurseries will request you to bring plenty of nappies/spare underwear, wet wipes and creams. If your child is on medication you can bring it in discuss administering procedures with the nurse. It is always good to pack a water bottle that you know is easy for your child to use, even if you feel it is a little babyish for them, it really is ok.
What are 5 good reasons about sending your child to nursery?
#Good nurseries offer great learning opportunities and your child will thrive off them
#Children will begin to social and interact with their peers which in turn will have a positive impact on their physical and mental development
#Your child’s communication skills will flourish
#The happiness you will feel when you peer into the classroom and see your little one happy, engaged and interacting cannot be described.
#Parents get the opportunity to feel relaxed while they are away from their child knowing that they are in a safe, secure and nourishing environment.
For more information in Home Grown Nursery
Telephone: +971 4 330 7008