Helping your child to settle

Statement of Intent

Polstead Preschool aims for children to feel safe, stimulated, happy and comfortable with staff in the absence of their parents. We want to enable children to recognise other adults as a source of help, authority and friendship. We try to make our Preschool a welcoming place where children settle quickly and easily because consideration has been given to their individual needs. We also want parents to have confidence in their children's well-being and their roles as active partners with Preschool.

Preparing your child for Preschool

Parents can help their children prepare for Preschool before they start.

We recommend:

  • looking at books on starting Preschool or nursery beforehand, for example, 'Going to Playgroup' by Catherine & Laurence Anholt or 'My first Day at Nursery School' by Becky Edwards & Anthony Flintoft
  • talking about it together
  • and, if possible, arranging for the child to visit Preschool before they start. We are happy to arrange a morning (or two if necessary) when your child and you can spend the whole session at Preschool so he or she will know what’s coming and will have a chance to familiarise themselves with the setting, staff and other children beforehand. This also gives the staff a chance to get to know parents and children a little before they start properly. We would usually recommend arranging such session in July if child is to start attending Polstead in September.
  • Finally, please also read this parent guide from the Early Years organisation for young children for help in settling your child at Preschool.

Start dates

At the start of term, we take no more than four new children a day, usually fewer. Specific starting times are staggered to ensure staff can give the new children the attention they need.

Key person

Your child will be allocated a Key Person, who will greet you on arrival and take a special interest in helping your child to settle in. It is helpful if, early on, you can together plan a settling-in strategy for your child. During the first session the Key Person will go over your child's Entry Profile.

Recognising your child's individual needs

We recognise that children vary in how quickly they can settle in, and that parenting styles differ. Your Key Person can advise on what we think might work best for you and your child based on our experience, but you know your child best. This is why it is important for you to tell your Key Person what you’d like to see happen and how you think 'separation' from your child can best be achieved. We understand that learning to separate from their parents is an important learning experience for the child and it needs to be handled sensitively.

A rough guide

During your child’s first day, parents are welcome to stay all morning, gradually taking time away from their child, as and when the child is able to cope. Thereafter you might aim to leave after spending a short time helping your child settle into an activity.

In the second and subsequent days, we hope that new parents are able to leave by 9.30 am along with other parents (later in the year this becomes 9.15am). Younger children may take longer to settle in, as will children who have not previously spent time away from home. Children who have had a period of absence may also need their parent to be on hand to re-settle them. What every child needs to learn during separation is that their parent/carer is coming back. Especially with younger children, leaving them for the whole morning may be too long, which is why we will often suggest to drop your child off fairly quickly in the morning and then come back in an hour so the child can learn he/she is being picked up again after separation. Depending on every child's needs we will lengthen the separation period accordingly to achieve the whole morning session as soon as possible.

We judge a child to be settled when they have formed a relationship with their Key Person; for example the child looks for their Key Person when he/she arrives, goes to them for comfort and seems pleased to be with them. The child is also familiar with where things are and is happy to see other children and participate in activities.

We do not believe that leaving a child to cry will help them to settle any quicker. However, separation can be upsetting for some children so there may be tears, which is absolutely normal, but the child's Key Person will calm the child and keep reassuring them that their parent/carer is coming back soon. We believe that a child's distress will prevent them from learning and gaining the best from the Preschool so in cases of prolonged upset we will always contact the parent/carer.

A few tips

  • It is helpful to wait until your child is well settled in an activity before you leave.
  • Let your child’s Key Person know that you are going to depart in 5 minutes, so they can support your departure.
  • Give your child a 5 minute warning of your departure, e.g. 'Daddy will be going in 5 minutes'.
  • After 5 minutes, say goodbye, reassuring the child that you will be collecting them later. Maybe suggest they make something for you.
  • The more confident the child feels YOU are, the more confident they will feel.
  • After saying a definite 'goodbye' or 'see you later!' walk confidently out of the door with perhaps a wave and a smile.

Please note: We will always call you if there is a problem and we feel that your child needs to be collected earlier.

We are looking forward to getting to know you and your child.

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