This week and next preschools are welcoming new children and their families to their services.
Most parents have already organised a preschool for their child by now and are looking forward to the next stage their child’s life. This may be a very sensitive time for both the child and the parent, it may, for many parents, be the first time their child has been away from them for any length of time.
Many preschool services will have sent an introduction letter to the parents letting them know what to expect for their child’s first few days in preschool.
It is important that parents know that the Preschool teachers are ready for the settling in phase and are totally committed to ensuring that the child is comfortable and happy from the start. Many parents will want to stay with their child for the first day or so, which is generally accommodated by Early Years Providers.
It is essential that relationships and routines are consistent, predictable and responsive to support each child's attachments, their sense of trust, security, competency, identity and belonging, their social skills and sense of independence.
Having a “Settling in” policy will greatly help with the induction of new children. This policy should outline how the services goes about settling in new children this will need to specific to your service and a copy of this should be given to parents when their child starts.
Think about how parents are supported in separating from their children, encouraging parents to spend as much time as they can at the service at first and gradually shorten the time as the child becomes more comfortable.
Encourage parents to develop consistent goodbye routine or ritual that they can use with their child each day such as giving the child a kiss or a big hug, waving good-bye from the door, or whatever they and their child feel comfortable doing. This way, both the parents and the child will know how to handle the parting.
Ensure that time is allowed for child’s Key Person to talk to the parents about bringing items from home that are important to their child, for example, a favourite soft toy or blanket, photos of family members, or a recording of themselves reading a favourite story or singing a familiar song.
Children get confidence from seeing warm, positive and friendly interactions between important people in their lives, like their parents and teachers. Good communication with your child’s parent also helps you share relevant information and helps the preschool teacher know how best to respond to each child.
Transitions can be difficult for young children as well as their key worker, it is important that you plan for transitions and placements that provide consistency and continuity for children and their families.
Evaluate the quality and effectiveness of transitions throughout the day using various means, including playful transitions, observations of the children and feedback from their families.
Parents may find the transition of leaving very difficult so it is important to support parents in being or becoming advocates as they transition with their children into this service from home. This may help with the settling in and empower both the parents and the child.
Try to keep the transitions throughout the day as simple and as few as possible, for example moving from one activity to another, or from one part of the daily routine/ schedule to the next.
Try to ensure that children are given advance notice visually, for example: visual child centred daily schedule posted at the child’s height.
It is considered important to recognise that some children need to be given more time, support and assistance to cope with changes in activity levels and/or types of activities, than others.
Include special information on each child’s registration form including any pet names, comfort toys/ blankets etc. and how parents sooth their child when they are upset. A photograph of the child’s family posted on the wall or in a book can help with children making the transition from home and making the connection between home and school.
All parents need to be informed of the policy and procedures regarding settling-in on enrolment. Staff members will check with parents that they have read and understood the policy and provide any assistance needed.
Regular parent updates on how children are settling in and the activities they are involved in throughout the day will help with the parent’s connection with the service and help develop the relationship between the Key worker and the parent with the child at the centre.