Is your child ready for nursery?

More and more parents are sending their kids to nursery early. But how can parents tell when their child is ready?

The Knowledge

They no longer get enough stimulation from being at home with the family
‘The main focus in nursery school is social interaction, independence, and confidence building,’ says Debbie Edmondson, principal at British Orchard Nursery in Mankhool. ‘Nursery school provides a stimulating and interactive environment where children can express themselves.’

If your child seems to be lacking that stimulation, the structure and variety of activities provided at most nursery schools can keep them entertained and lay the foundation for learning.

Both you and your child can weather the separation
‘From two years onwards it is unusual for a child not to benefit from nursery,’ explains Edmondson. ‘I find it’s usually the mummy or daddy who isn’t quite ready!’

While some parents are more than happy to have some time to themselves, others can hardly stand to leave their child behind, even in the hands of very capable childcare professionals. Feeling terrible because your child cries when you leave? Unless they cry all day every day, don’t, says Edmondson. ‘Kids may suffer separation anxiety; however, this is entirely normal. Most kids will enjoy nursery after a few weeks.’

You’ve started pulling out your own hair in clumps
At some point, even the most patient parents need a little time for themselves. While some parents have a hard time letting go of their children, others find themselves feeling frustrated and annoyed by the sometimes mundane – and seemingly endless – aspects of childcare.

‘If you find you’re not able to give your children the quality of attention they need, it might be a good time to consider sending them to nursery for a few hours a week,’ suggests psychologist and behaviour analyst Erika Ford. Those few hours may be just enough for a weary parent to regroup, recharge, and return to the children more able to give them the attention they need.

You find a really good nursery
If you find a nursery you think your child would enjoy, you should look into sending them there as soon as possible. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a nursery school; the British Orchard Nursery has developed its own list of 27 qualities to look for. Adapted from the Office of Standards in Education in the UK, this list includes having a qualified nurse on the premises at all times, and adapting the curriculum for children at different stages of development.

‘We believe that in order to learn, children need three things: to feel safe, to feel happy, and to understand what is being said to them. Only then can a child enjoy learning and begin to develop,’ says Edmondson.

They’ve had their third birthday
‘By the age of three, children have begun to consider the needs of others,’ explains Ford, who works through the Gulf Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi.

He continues: ‘At this crucial stage, kids need to learn the consequences of their actions, and they can only gain that experience by being around other kids.’

Even tots younger than three can benefit from some exposure to social settings.

‘Children must first go through the stage of parallel play – playing alongside each other and imitating each other – before they can begin interactive play,’ says Ford. ‘If they don’t engage in parallel play before the age of three, they are likely to catch up quickly, but they may be able to get that stage out of the way and be ready for interactive play when they turn three.’

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