Both my kids have attended nursery since they were around 12 months old. I chose to return to work at this point and although we looked at the option of having a nanny or childminder – nursery was the best option for us.
For Katie, the move from Nursery to Preschool was pretty seamless given the similarity between environments. Although her preschool is more structured and obviously includes some elements of formal learning – she transitioned really well. I’m confident that come August that Katie will be happy to move on to Primary School. That said, there’s a few things that I would highlight as being key to a happy Nursery and Pre School experience.
5 Top Tips for Starting Nursery
Opt for practical clothing (but be laid back)
When Katie started nursery initially, I opted to buy some multipacks of t-shirts and leggings from the local supermarket. Whilst these were perfectly serviceable, they didn’t wash well and needed to be replaced before she had grown out of them. So when Katie started preschool, I decided to spend a little more money and buy some unisex basics from Polarn O Pyret. The same clothes are being worn on an almost daily basis a year and half later; and they will certainly be in a good enough condition for Thomas to wear when he is big enough.
That said, sometimes Katie doesn’t want to wear these clothes. Sometimes she wants to wearing ridiculous things like a swimming costume in the middle of winter.
Initially I stuck to my guns, worrying about practicality (or judgement). But actually, although I’ve not allowed utterly ridiculous options, Katie has gone to school wearing a few party dresses. They’ve come back intact and Katie’s managed perfectly well during the day. It may not be my idea of ideal – but who doesn’t need a bit more sparkle in their day?!
By everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Katie is in quite a large class at her preschool and I don’t think the teachers can be expected to memorise which items of clothing belong to each child. The same goes for wellies or any other item really. If you care about something coming back to you – label it.
When Katie first started nursery, I bought a whole load of sew on labels. This was such a rookie error. I remembered having them when I was at school and imagined I’d be sewing them into all of Katie’s clothes. You can imagine how long that one lasted!
Thankfully, I soon discovered ‘my nametags’. You can discover how great these name tags are for yourselves by entering my giveaway (or by utilising the discount code below!) but in short, they stick to everything.
We’ve used them on cuddly toy labels, shoes, lunch boxes, drinks bottles, school bags, folders, every significant item of clothes (I do draw the line at socks)… everything.
My sister-in-law recently asked where they were from as she had found removing them from our hand-me-downs tricky! To me, that’s a good sign!
Whilst admittedly, you could use a pen to label things. There’s not always an obvious place to write and pen fades. I know that these labels stand up to wash, wear and time. In my world that makes them a must have for nursery or for going back to school.
Talking to your child about their day
Thomas’ nursery gives us pretty full feedback about his day backed up with regular photos in his learning journal. When I collect Katie from after school club, despite the fact she’s been going since last August I’m often asked who I’m there to collect. You can imagine the level of feedback I get. Hint: I don’t.
The teachers from her class do provide a wee paragraph in her ‘home’ book but it’s necessary to fill the gaps. However, that’s when we often get this conversation:
Me: “What did you do today? Was it fun?”
Katie: “I don’t remember.”
Whilst, asking particularly direct questions such as “What did you have for snack?” sometimes will illicit more of a response – it’s not an easy conversation.
My trick is to tell Katie what she’s been doing that day. Obviously I’m wrong 90% of the time, but Katie cannot resist correcting me.
Me: So today you played with Freddie and had grapes and burgers for snack!
Katie: Nooo silly. I had cake…. and we made the cake.
Me: Oh yes, and you went to the gym and then had book group.
Katie: No!! We went to the library and…
You get the idea. I’m not sure that this would work for every child but if you have a little know-it-all… try it!
Teach your child to be assertive
When Katie first started at preschool, she was very tearful over a few days. She would start crying at dinner and sobbed at bedtime. I didn’t have a clue what was wrong.
Eventually, it came out a boy at school had told her that GIRLS were not allowed to play with the sand.
For some reason, she had taken this completely to heart and was shattered by it.
Now, my initial reaction was to teach her to throw sand at the boy… but instead I opted to speak to her teacher.
Katie’s teacher suggested that we teach her to simply hold her hand out and say, “No, I don’t like that!” in a very firm voice.
We practised this at home (particularly on her older brother Ben who would pretend to torment her) and sure enough, she began to stand up for herself.
Whilst there is always room for improvement, I was very proud when her new teacher mentioned she had heard Katie say loudly, “No! I don’t like that – it’s not kind!”
Funnily enough, the teacher was very quick on the scene!
Help them to be independent
I would assume that it’s common at all nurseries that children are assigned a peg near their rooms. But I was impressed that both their nursery and Katie’s preschool took the time to really personalise them. This obviously helps with identification when they can’t read, but I think it’s a nice personal touch.
Katie’s name tags have always had strawberries on (although they are lots of different options) and she chose this symbol for her peg at school as well. Although she can generally identify her name now – this obviously wasn’t always the case.
There has been occasions where she has had the same item of clothing as others and this is again where the labels have helped her. She can easily find ‘her’ label and as a result, get herself ready.
I love the array of designs that my nametags has to offer – brilliant for getting your child involved in designing something they’ll be happy with!
My nametags generously gifted a set of stickers for the purpose of this post but we have been using them anyway for the last three years! You can design your own at mynametags.com and if you use the discount code ‘EDINBURGHWITHKIDS17’ you can get a 10% discount. Valid until 24th April 2017.
PS. We’ve got some more great discount codes and competition featuring this week so be sure to check back daily! Thanks for supporting the people that support Edinburgh with Kids!