Burgess Hill Girls Nursery teacher and manager Suzanne Roberts has put together some tips to ensure the move is a smooth one.
• Most schools have an induction day or Meet the Teacher day. This is a really important time for your child to see what their new classroom is like. They will probably enjoy an afternoon or morning in the classroom which will be set up to be very similar to our nursery with lots of familiar activities. The teacher will probably read them a story and will chat to each child. If your child misses this, they will miss out on knowing what you mean about going to school. Hopefully, this will be an extremely positive experience and they will take that home with them.
• Let them practise wearing their uniform and PE kit. Lots of parents forget this and then expect their child to be comfortable on their first day. Uniforms can be very different to what your child is used to wearing. Children of this age can be sensitive to change. To make it fun we will have a uniform week at Nursery. We have a set of uniforms from each local school for our dressing up areas. Remember: children will have to change into their PE kit on their OWN at school with very little help so practice makes perfect!
• Avoid buying new school shoes with laces. Your child has to become more independent, so help them as much as possible by either buying shoes with Velcro straps or slip on trainers/plimsolls.
• Leave ‘special toys’- comforters, blankets, teddies – at home. Start by encouraging your child to drop these in the Nursery class bag on arrival, then leave in their school bag or the car, working towards leaving this at home tucked safely in a place of their choice ready for them when they return from school.
• Your child’s teacher will not be wiping your child’s bottom so please teach them to do this for themselves. At Nursery this is encouraged. Some will still ask for help to wipe – we start by asking the child to do the first few wipes and we then do the final wipe. If they still insist on you doing it, you will need to wean them off this.
• Help them become more independent by encouraging your child to hang up their own coat and bag on arrival at Nursery or at home. Ask them to do some little chores at home, too. Prepare them by teaching them to put their shoes together at home or putting some of their own belongings away. Remember by helping them to be more independent you are helping them to feel confident and self- assured.
• If your child has basic self-care skills, they will be able to access the curriculum with confidence. If they are very reliant on adults for their own care, they will find learning more daunting.
• Do not linger: explain that they are going to have the best time ever (implanting this idea is very powerful) and that you will see them later. If you or your child still struggle with separation, start this process now at Nursery. Drop them at the classroom door, give them a big hug, and off they go. If you forget to tell the staff something, do not go back into the room: pop to the reception desk and they will pass on a message.
• Starting ‘Big School’ can be a very emotional time for parents, too! Don’t show your child that you are upset on their first day. If they see you upset, they will think they should be upset too – and this is very unsettling!
Good Luck and enjoy your first year at school!