We talk to Azzah Charif, manager of Green Grass Nursery in Jumeirah, about how to help little ones and parents deal with those first days at nursery.
What can parents do to prepare kids for nursery?
Parents can do a lot in the weeks before the first day to get their kids ready for the big day. Pretend play is a great way to help parents to introduce the nursery concept to their children, talk about it and give them time to be prepared emotionally. Letting the child visit the nursery and meet with other kids that may be in the same class can help make the situation less intimidating and ensure the transition is much easier. It is very important that parents prepare and inform the child of the changes prior to the first day of nursery.
What are your tips for parents on the first day of nursery?
The first day of nursery is a milestone that’s often anticipated with great excitement and joy, but also with lots of crying and uncertainty, from both kids and parents. Here are some tips for tear-free goodbyes:
• Remember that children do pick up on your mood, so try to remain calm and positive about your child going to nursery.
• Introduce the teacher to your child. Allow them to form an initial relationship. Make it clear that you trust the teacher.
• When it's time to go, make sure to say goodbye to your child.
• Don't linger; the longer you stay, the harder it is.
• Let your child know that you'll be there at pick-up time, and say ‘see you later’ once your child is involved in an activity.
• Establish a goodbye routine. You can come up with a couple of things that you do each time you say goodbye, like a secret handshake or a special high-five.
• Bring a comfort object.
• If the nursery allows it, let your child bring along his/her favourite stuffed animal (or blanket, or whatever object does the trick) so the new setting doesn’t feel so scary.
• Don't be late for pick-up. If you are late, it can cause your child even more anxiety and make dropping off the next time much harder.
What’s the best way to drop kids off?
Ask your child’s key person at the nursery to help you with the drop off transition by greeting your child by name and getting them engaged in play before you leave. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying goodbye can risk your child’s trust in you.
How long does it usually take for a child to settle in to nursery?
Children settle into nursery in lots of different ways and in different amounts of time. Some children will confidently move into the nursery room as soon as they arrive. Other children may be nervous and anxious about leaving their beloved parent. Most children will be somewhere in between. The younger the child, the easier to settle. The older the child, the more clingy they can be, and this can last from a few sessions to a few weeks. Once the child builds a relationship with the teachers, settling in will occur in no time.
What snacks do you suggest parents should bring?
Healthy snacks are so important to a child's diet. Good snacks provide vitamins, nutrients, and fibre to keep growth on track, while high calorie or high fat snacks can sabotage your every effort. Here are some healthy snack ideas and recipes to ensure your kids are eating well:
• Two mini whole-wheat pita pockets with grilled-chicken strips and veggies, 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
• Sliced hard-boiled egg
• Two mini whole-grain waffles
• Bell-pepper strips
• 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
• Eight animal crackers
• One sliced kiwi fruit, mixed with a few blackberries
• String cheese and a handful of whole-wheat crackers
• One cup broccoli and cauliflower florets with two tablespoons light raspberry dressing
• 1/2 cup blueberries
• Sliced strawberries