Positive Ways to Support Settling-in for The Early Years
For many practitioners and families this is a time of change and transition. Some children may be returning after the summer break, but many will be starting their very first day in your setting. Anni McTavish offers helpful ideas to support parents and practitioners.
How we respond and plan for these new beginnings can colour transitions long into the future, so it’s crucial we make sure we’re doing our best to get it right. Think back to your own experiences of going somewhere new or joining a different group. What did you find helpful? Was there something that someone did or said (or didn’t do or say!) that made you feel comfortable and welcome?
Review and reflect
Settling-in new children and families begins long before the first day. Information is vital. Each setting will have a settling-in policy, but has there been time to review it, make any changes and discuss concerns or new strategies: home visits, visits to the setting and/or an information booklet with details such as the daily routine, what to do if your child is ill etc, will all help.
We added a parent postcard this year: ‘How to help your child enjoy Nursery’, in which we encouraged parents to help their child to practise putting on their shoes and coat, pull up sleeves, blow their nose and tidy up before starting nursery.
Have babies’ and young children’s photographs ready, make sure names are spelt correctly and new labels are added to pegs or baskets. Include children’s interests in open-ended experiences. One mum was incredibly pleased to find that on her two year old’s first day, his key-person had remembered that he loved string, and had provided a large ball of it for him to play with.
Time and thought
Young children are developing their emotional resilience, but this is only possible if sensitive adults tune into their needs and help them to regulate their feelings and experiences. Every child and family will be different, so flexibility is vital. Good settling-in cannot be rushed. If it is, it often backfires and a child may end up taking longer to settle. Helpful ideas are included below to support parents and practitioners.
Finally, don’t forget to thank parents and value all the things they do to help their children settle in, and take care of yourself and colleagues during what can be a rewarding and sometimes challenging time.
Anni McTavish – Early years and creative arts consultant
Anni McTavish will be speaking and running workshops at the forthcoming COBIS Early Years Conference in Athens – Exploring the EYFS World
This article was first published here.