Now that your child has been accepted into a setting, you need to prepare them for their big adventure by getting them ready to attend. This is an important step within any child’s development and preparing them is crucial to their later happiness within the setting.

All children differ in how long it takes them to settle into a new setting.

This will depend on factors such as:

The child’s experience of being left with other people outside of the family home such as relatives or friends. Whether they are used to socialising with other children. The individual personality of the child.

It is not realistic to think that a child will be settled after a week or two; it takes time, especially as your child will be attending part time and may need a bit longer to feel confident. So how can you help your child to settle?

Reading books
You could read books to your child about starting a nursery / pre-school or childminder. This will help them to become familiar with what might happen during their visit to the setting.

Provide opportunities to socialise
Visit groups such as stay and plays where your child can get use to socialising with other children and experience an environment like a nursery or pre-school.

Arrange a settling-in period
Talk to the setting about arranging a settling-in period where your child can become gradually used to the environment, staff and other children. The settling-in period may start with you and your child visiting together and talking to the key person so that they can slowly build a bond with your child. Gradually, they may encourage you to leave your child for extended periods of time. For example, waiting in another room in the nursery while your child plays and then leaving the premises for an hour or two. We would recommend reading your settings ‘settling in policy’ as this will explain the procedures for supporting your child during this time.

Talk to your child about the setting
Be positive and confident about your child starting at their new setting, even if you don’t feel it. Tell them about the new friends they’ll make, the things that they’ll do and the wonderful toys they can play with. Remember that your child will need positive reassurance and if you’re feeling negative about the experience they’ll pick up on this and feel anxious about attending!

Provide them with a comforter 
Give your child a cuddly toy or blanket to take with them that is familiar to them and smells of their home environment. You’ll probably find that once your child has settled, they won’t want it any more. Please make sure that you speak to the setting so that they know not to take the item away from your child.

Say goodbye, don’t slip away
Don’t slip away from your child without saying goodbye to them, make sure they know you are leaving otherwise it may cause problems in the long run. When it’s time to say goodbye don’t hang around. Say goodbye, give them a kiss and say you’ll be back later. It might help to follow the same routine each time you leave so that your child gets use to the same reassuring words. Don’t be tempted to rush back and give them another hug, especially if they are crying. Be reassured and trust that their key person will look after them.

Get involved
Get involved in the setting by attending any events they hold and talking to the key person about any concerns or problems. The more you tell them about your child, the more they’ll get to know them and will build a stronger relationship.

Don’t forget that you are the child’s main attachment figure, who provides reassurance to enable them to explore the world around them and grow into a happy, confident child. Some children may take longer to settle than expected but don’t give up, remember some of the tips above and talk to the setting's key person who may be able to put into place other strategies to support your child during this emotional but exciting journey.