Top Tips to Prepare your Child for Nursery

22 Jul 2022

Top Tips to Prepare your Child for Nursery

As any parent knows, the very first nursery experience for a child (and parent) can be extremely intimidating. Whether you’re sending your child to nursery full time or only a few hours a week – it’s not unusual for parents to feel apprehensive about how it will go.

There are a few things you can spend time doing with your child in the days and weeks leading up to their first day at nursery to ensure you are both prepared.

We’ve put together some nursery top tips and recommendations on how best to prepare your young child (and you) for the transition from home to nursery below.

1. Speak to the nursery staff

Take the time beforehand to get to know the nursery staff and in particular your child’s key worker and provide them with any information about your child’s interests and their daily routine, so they can ensure your child is as comfortable as possible. Such as what they like, don’t like, when they tend to sleep, any fears they may have and what stage they are at with their toilet training. Most nurseries will ask you these questions so be prepared with all the answers, any information they have about your child will help them create a comfortable environment for your little one and bring some familiarity to their day.

2. Speak to your child

A good place to start, is by talking about what they can expect at nursery, include it in your daily conversations. Just a casual chat about activities and life at their new preschool. When you are on a morning walk and see children on their way to school, when you are doing an activity in your house, when they are getting ready in the morning, talk about what they will start to learn, meal times, nap times, being toilet trained, and all the new friends they will make. Focus on all the positive things about this new adventure and all the exciting things they will be doing as part of their busy day.

3. Set up a few play dates

If you know any children going to the same nursery or preschool, try arrange a play date with other mums before their first day, and if you do not know anyone, chat to your childcare provider and they may be able to help you organise something. If your child is able to make friends with children and get to know some of the other children from nursery before they start it will help them settle faster. Other parents will have similar feelings to you about their toddlers and babies starting school, so it will also be great to chat to them to put your mind at ease too.

4. Prepare what to wear

Start preparing nursery clothes, ones you are happy to get dirty during any outdoor or messy play! A day at nursery should be all about the fun; arts and crafts, painting, water play, muddy puddles, you name it! Because after all children learn through play, so the messier they are, the more they are learning and the happier we all are. Your little one’s day will be jam packed full of adventure, and you wouldn’t want their best outfits to be destroyed in the process so make sure you have selected nursery outfits perfect for these situations.

5. Prepare what you will need to pack

Help make the process feel comfortable by getting your child excited for starting school. Avoid the morning rush by having these things ready the night before. You will need a nursery bag with all the essentials, think about what you take on a day out. Make it fun. Pack one of their favourite bags with all the items they will need, a fun water bottle to stay hydrated, wellies for rainy days. Keep all these items separate from what they use after school and on weekends. Check the list with the school as every nursery school has different requirements depending on what they offer but here is a basic list to get you started:

What to pack:

  1. Spare clothes
  2. Spare pants for any accidents
  3. Outdoor shoes
  4. Special toy (only in the beginning)
  5. Raincoat
  6. Puddle suit and wellies for rainy days!
  7. Sun cream and sun hat in summer (more about sun safety)
  8. Warm coat in winter

6. Invest in a calendar for your child

Children thrive on routine. It is important your child feels secure and is given enough information that they know what is going to happen next. Buy or make a child friendly calendar, with pictures and stickers and anything to help your child understand their routine. Include things like what is happening on each day, when weekends are, when they have holidays, any extramural activity like swimming, who is taking them to school and who will collect them each day. If there is anything exciting happening at school like Mothers day or Easter celebrations. Having their daily routine in one place will help them understand their next steps so there are no unexpected surprises.

7. Create a new routine leading up to nursery

Slowly start introducing their new routine as soon as you can. Wake up a little earlier. Get ready and dressed and go out for a walk or to a playgroup. Maybe take a similar route to your new nursery and even a walk past to watch the little children going into school. These small steps seem very simple but is another way to ease their anxiety and help your child settle.

8. Read a storybook about starting nursery

A good way of familiarising your child with the concept of nursery and a nursery environment, is to read them a story about starting nursery for the first time. If you can, it is a good idea to get a storybook about nursery a few weeks before your little one starts, and make it part of their bedtime routine. If you would like to find out more, email us via [email protected]. We have a limited edition book available that is perfect for preparing your child for nursery, so get one while you can!

Otherwise, check out our recommendations for other books about starting nursery here.

9. Share your own memories

Do you remember your time at nursery? Talk about nursery in a positive light, as something exciting and enjoyable. Tell your little one upbeat stories about your time at nursery – the fun games you played, the activities you enjoyed and all the special friends you made.

10. Settling in sessions

Any good nursery will offer settling in sessions which take place over a few days, we highly recommend these sessions. They offer a slow introduction into a nursery day which is only an hour or so at a time, and will help your child get familiar with the setting, they will get to know their key worker and even make a few friends. This will ensure that they are not overwhelmed by a full day to start. Chat to your child’s nursery about what they offer and how best it will suit your child.

11. Book a visit

It sounds obvious, but we recommend you book a visit, not only is it good to meet people in the flesh, but it also makes things a lot easier on both you and your little one during the transition period, by seeing a familiar face and place when you drop them off for their first day.

You also can peek into all our different rooms and play areas! From our babies, toddlers, and pre-school rooms to our gardens and kitchens.

By coming along for a visit, you get to take in the environment and envisage the place where your child will develop and grow over the next few years.

You can also to speak to our helpful parent engagement team on 0800 028 4500 any time between 8.30 am – 6.30 pm. Or you can send them an email on [email protected] with any queries, or if you would like to book a visit.

12. Enjoy the process

Change is hard for everyone, and especially for kids. Many children and parents struggle when their kids start school as it is a big change and a huge milestone. Your child’s first day can leave everyone feeling stressed and anxious, but don’t worry it is completely normal to feel this way. Be prepared that the first day is sometimes easier than the second day and the days that follow, but as your baby or toddler becomes more familiar with their daily routine it will get easier for them and for you. We just want to remind you that this is a big transition for any family and we recommend reaching out to other mums and dads who are in a similar position, talking to other parents will reassure you that everything you are experiencing is part of the process. And most importantly enjoy the process. Enjoy watching your child grow, learn and find their independence. Read more about tips for parents here.

Are you looking for a nursery near you?

Book a visit at your local day nursery today.


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