Settling In Toolkit
It is the time of the year that many families are visiting Little Gems with their tiny gems and getting prepared for the future nursery life. As a toddler classroom leader, we are faced with plenty of questions and thoughts about the settling in process and how to prepare a child for nursery life.
Some of the children will be joining for the Summer School programme -- a great idea to help them get used to the setting and possibly meet one or some of their future practitioners.
Books are great tool to introduce your child to nursery life. Parents can read them with their child and gently discuss nursery. However preschool age children are still refining their sense of time so don’t expect the child to understand that in two months school will start! For practitioners, it is helpful that the child has some experience of time without their parents. So before nursery begins, take advantage of family members or friends that your child is familiar with or loves so that they have some experience of being away from mum and dad.
A Language Cheat Sheet
Another question we often get regards communication, specifically language. Some children do not speak the language of the school, so parents may feel concerned that their child has little or no exposure to the language and therefore are unsure that their needs and wants are being met. For many, English would be the second, third or even fourth language that the child will be learning. Last September we had 16 children join my classroom, and only 3 or 4 of them had some basic experience or understanding of English. Some of them didn't even speak at all, let alone a specific language! My advice as a practitioner is for you to prepare a list of phonetic words or phrases in your home language that we can refer to so that we can communicate with your child and also make them feel secure and, most importantly, heard. Things like: hello - how are you - what is this? - shall we play? - show me - where? - etc. Now that the academic year has ended, all of them are forming sentences, singing nursery rhymes and beginning to communicate with friends in English as they are very keen on learning more about the social aspects of life. A year of singing, speaking and repeating daily and new vocabulary with real contextual clues and prompts have helped them acquire basic to almost intermediate language tools.
And, of course, you!
As a practitioner, I would advise parents to choose a setting that you trust and feel good at. Once you've decided, those feelings are reflected onto your child. Something as simple and feeling confident, enthusiastic and trusting does wonders to help them to settle in. Do not underestimate what a powerful role model you are to child -- they can sense it. Children are extremely intuitive and if you are having doubts, so will your child. From the moment they are born they have been listening to your heart beat, watching your facial and body gestures, and recognising the complicated tones of your voice. Our Little Gems’ staff are experienced and trained (and have plenty of tricks to charm children!), and our classrooms are designed to attract little hands and minds. Therefore we are fully prepared to provide our newcomers with a beautiful start to education at their level. We understand and are empathic towards the fact that we are not only settling in your child, but you as well. However our hands are full with the needs of the children and we prefer to use our time and energy for them, rather than settling down the parents. Therefore the co-operation between home and school is an incredibly helpful tool for all three parties.
The First Week of School
When school starts we dedicate the first 2 or 3 days for you to join your child while also dividing the day into two groups. This makes it possible for us to spend more one-to-one time with new children rather than the whole group of 16 at the same time. We are looking as soft a landing to the nursery life as possible. This means that child’s day will be extended slowly, following their own sensitivities to this new routine. If your child has a favourite comfort item, toy or pacifier, it can be brought with them for the first few days.
It is helpful for your child (and parent and teacher!) that goodbyes are kept short and done every day in the same way. There may be tears in the beginning, but we are prepared to comfort them with all the tricks we have, the biggest ones of all being love, care and listening.
Now you are ready to join us! You have an excellent toolkit to revise, practice and prepare for over the summer. I would like to welcome the new little gems to Little Gems!
Emmi is a Montessorian and parent at Little Gems Montessori who is well versed in all ages that our school provides for. If you'd like to know more about our settling in procedure, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 22 351319 Nicosia / 96 557661 Larnaca