The Ultimate Guide To Preparing Your Child For Nursery

Transitioning into nursery is a big step for your little one. Your little one may be feeling excited, nervous, anxious, or a combination of many different emotions. It’s a big change for you as well, but there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier.


preparing your child for nursery


Play Pretend


Playing pretend and acting out different scenarios involving nursery can help get your little one used to the idea of nursery. Try acting out parts of their new routine for nursery such as saying goodbye, saying hello for pick up, taking off their coat, hanging it up, and putting it on again. Try to get as many members of the household involved as possible. Practice different nursery activities as well, such as reading stories, or singing songs.




If you’re practising nursery activities like reading stories, add in some about going to nursery. Mix new stories in with old favourites. You could also look to find out if any of your little one’s favourite book characters have stories around starting nursery. Your local library may have a selection of these, and can help you to find resources.


Talk To Your Little One


Your child may have some concerns, so start a conversation with them about how they’re feeling. Listen to their questions and fears. It’s important to encourage them to voice their concerns, and you should reassure them that it’s normal to feel nervous. Be aware that your little one may not be able to fully voice their worries, so keep an eye for any non-verbal messages that they’re sending you.

Non-verbal messages may be that you notice your little one is clingier than usual or withdrawn. You may notice that they have sudden changes in behaviour, or their behaviour may regress. For example, a previously potty-trained child may start having accidents. It’s important that you don’t become frustrated in this instance, even though it can be frustrating. Reassure your little one that being nervous is normal, and let the behaviour resolve with time and patience.


New Tasks


There are some skills that can help your little one at nursery, so practice them at home. Practice things like taking off and putting on a coat, putting on and taking off a backpack or school bag, taking out a lunch box or snack, and putting on their shoes. It can help if you have a race with your child to see who can get their coat on the fastest.


Practice The New Routine


A week or two before your little one begins nursery, put their new routine into place. They may have a new bedtime, or a new morning routine, and it’s a good idea to have these in place before they start nursery. On the night before their first day at nursery, it’s important that they get a good night’s sleep, so try not to talk too much about nursery. Keep your conversation natural, soothing and relaxed.


Saying Goodbye On The First Day


If you’ve been practising saying goodbye as part of your nursery preparation, say goodbye on the first day as close to the way you’ve been practising. Stay positive and happy. Try not to turn back when you’re leaving, as it can reinforce your little one’s concerns. Reassure yourself that the nursery staff will have plenty of experience in soothing upset children and encouraging them to come out of their shells.


Put Your Feelings Aside


Even if you’re feeling nervous, anxious or upset, put your feelings aside while your little one is around. It’s normal for you to feel nervous, but try not let your little one see it as they may associate your upset or anxiety with nursery. Support, nurture and encourage them regardless of if they’re feeling nervous or excited. Remember that every child is different, and your little one may need reassurance on nursery days, or they may run off and not look back towards you.

Remember that the first day can not only be daunting for your child, but for you too – so be kind to yourself and try to have something fun or distracting planned for the rest of that day to keep yourself occupied.