13. Settling in – Policy and Practice

13.1            Aim

We want children to feel safe and happy in the absence of their parents/carers, to recognise other adults as a source of authority, help and friendship and to be able to share with their parents/carers afterwards the new experiences enjoyed at the Nursery.

In order to accomplish this:

  • Once a child has been offered a confirmed place, the child is invited to visit the Nursery with a parent/carer during the term before admission (see Admissions Policy – Administrative Procedures).
  • When a child starts his/her first term at Anchors, the parent/carer sees the child introduced into an activity at the Nursery and quietly says goodbye. The parent/carer is encouraged not to linger to avoid setting a false expectation that the parent/carer may stay after all.
  • Before leaving, the parent/carers signs the signing-in book and leaves contact telephone number(s) in case of needing to contact the parent/carer whilst the child is at the Nursery. This may include contact to recommend shortening the session time, if appropriate.
  • Parents/carers are encouraged to separate from their children for brief periods at first, gradually building up to full sessions. We recommend 40 minutes for the first session, during which time staff will assess how your child is settling in. Session times are increased as confidence builds.
  • We recognise that children have their own individual ways of coping with the step of starting at the Nursery. Some appear confident initially, then subsequently show signs that they are not fully settled. This is quite normal. In these circumstances, the staff will reassure and comfort the child and liaise with the parent/carer, as appropriate.

Children cannot play or learn successfully if they are anxious and unhappy. Our settling procedure aims to help parents/carers to help their child to feel comfortable at the Nursery, to benefit from what it has to offer, and to be confident that their parents/carers will return at the end of the session.

13.2 Settling in – Practical Guidelines for New Starters

We recommend the following approach to parents/carers whose children are starting at Anchors Nursery School for the first time:

  • Do not make a big issue of starting at the Nursery.
  • If your child has a comforter, please allow your child to bring this to the Nursery during the settling in phase as this can really help them.
  • Upon arrival on day one, find an activity which interests your child, e.g. train set or play-dough.
  • Explain that you are just popping out for a few minutes to the shops, maybe to buy their favourite biscuits or magazine and will be back very soon.
  • Give your child a kiss or follow your normal routine before leaving your child, leaving promptly without lingering.
  • If your child is tearful or starts clinging, pass your child to your child’s key person or other member of staff who will cuddle and give reassurance.
  • When you return to the Nursery, come in and greet your child.

We understand that starting at the Nursery can be a painful experience for both parent and child, and we will help and advise as much as we can.

Attendance at the first session will normally be for approximately 40 minutes. Staff will assess how your child is settling in, and the duration of the next visit.

This process is repeated. Session times are increased as confidence builds. We respond to a child’s individual needs; one may still be attending for only 45 minutes, whilst another is already staying for 2 hours.

Children have their own individual ways of coping with the step of starting at the Nursery. Some appear confident initially, then after 2-3 weeks start sobbing. This is quite common. In this event, we suggest you pass your child to one of the staff and leave.

Throughout the settling in stage, we ask when signing in that you provide a contact number in case we feel your child should be collected early before the scheduled time. This rarely arises.

Our objective is to make your child feel safe and happy at the Nursery without their parents/carers, by leaving before they want to so that they look forward to their next visit.

The most important things are always to say goodbye and not to linger, as this can really upset the child when you do finally leave.

As the first settling in sessions are short, parents/carers will be given an Anchors sticker entitling them to a drink at the local pub. This is an opportunity to meet other parents/carers in the same situation and to form friendships.


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