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Developing motor skills outdoorsMy Little Man has just started nursery, 18 months old. Miss 4 started when she turned 2. Miss 6 started at 20 months. They’ve all gone to the same nursery, so I can’t say my experience is diverse! Nevertheless, here you have it…

TOP 10 Ways to Prepare For Nursery.


Practical Preparation:

1. A week to a month before you’re planned to start – check out the schedule that they have at the nursery. When do the kids eat? when do they have a nap?… It definitely helps your little one settle in if their body clock is in tune with the nursery rhythm! Being tired and expecting to sleep when it’s nap time makes for a much easier start, and certainly takes one item of the otherwise huge list of changes.

Developing motor skills outdoors2. Find out how do they go about putting the kids to bed when they’re going to have a nap at the nursery, and consider phasing out your method a little bit! It’s all fair and good that your little one falls asleep in the pram so reliably every afternoon. But if that’s the only place they fall asleep, and nobody’s going to shake a pram around for them at nursery

Developing motor skills outdoors3. Do you have a special blanket, teddy or comforter? The nursery will usually want you to bring this too. If you don’t have one, the few weeks before nursery start is a great time to ’introduce’ one. Of course it’s unlikely they’re suddenly going to be inseparable from this item – but that’s not the point! The point is just being able to have something familiar with them later, a little physical expression of security.

4. In the week(s) before, get into the habit of getting up and ready at the time you’ll need to when you’re going to nursery… Developing motor skills outdoorsGet dressed, have breakfast. It doesn’t need to come as a shock that days begin at 7am once they start.

5. One aspect of having older siblings, that definitely makes a difference when it comes to starting nursery, is the familiarity. They may have been with you 5-10 times a week, dropping off and picking up their older sibling(s). If you haven’t taken them with you so often – now’s your chance! In the run-up to them starting, make sure you bring them along.Developing motor skills outdoors

If this isn’t the case, consider swinging by the nursery a few times in the week(s) prior to starting. Point it out. Go up to the gate maybe, and take a little look.

6. In the week or so running up, talk (positively) about the nursery. Talk about it being ’their’ nursery, ’their’ fun place to be. Talk about when they’re going to start there: ’soon’, ’next week’, ’in a few days’, ’after the weekend’…Developing motor skills outdoors


Physical Preparation:Developing motor skills in the forest

7. Now this might sound silly, but if your little one’s walking, it’s so great if they can manage more than just a flat concrete path, and golf-course greens! Being stable enough to (wobble) maneuver uneven paving stones, up and down a slope or two and over pine cones has huge advantages! For a start, they’re not going to be on their face every time someone accidentally knocks against them. Developing motor skills in the forestAnd believe me, you don’t want to add daily bruises to the already heightened sensitivity of handing them over into somebody else’s care… So, out into the forest – the best tip of them all!

8. Picking themselves up and dusting themselves off. Regardless of how you’ve reacted to falls and bruises previously, this is the time to start letting them handle it a bit more independently. Nobody is going to go running over, swoop in and swiftly rescue every child who falls over. I’m sorry if this sounds upsetting! When they fall over, keep a little distance and encourage them to stand up again, dust themselves off, and come to you themselves if they want to. Let them tell you what’s happened, affirm that they fell, and that they got up themselves, and what a great job they did!

Developing motor skills outdoors

Mental Preparation:

9. It’s quite likely that they’re not going to ’appreciate’ this sudden change in the pattern of life they’ve grown used to and are happy with! And there are many different ways they can express this. It might be tears and screams, it might be huge long hugs, it might be very clear and verbal, or it might be much subtler, refusing to look at you! It might start from day one, or after a week or two Developing motor skills outdoors…You never know exactly how your child is going to react, but they are going to, and it’s not going to feel nice when they do.

Know why you’re dropping them off at nursery. Why you chose the nursery you did. What you like about it. What you hope it’s going to benefit your child being there… All good things to remind yourself when it’s tough. And keep your phone to hands, ready to call a friend when you need to!
Developing motor skills outdoors10. Goodbyes! There’s a great opportunity here to get into a few good habits, at least in the weeks leading up to nursery. When you drop off your little one, you are (at some point) going to need to turn around and leave. Tell them in advance that you’re going to go to nursery now, that you’re going to drop them off, that you’re going to give them a kiss and hug, say goodbye, and then go and …(work); and that you’ll be coming to pick them up later at …o’clock; Developing motor skills outdoorsafter they’ve …(eaten fruit, slept,…). And practice doing that when you’re dropping them off anywhere in the meantime. Practice telling them what’s going to happen, kiss, hug, goodbye and leaving… So it feels as natural as possible.


So how did it go? Check out our first week Starting Nursery.

Developing motor skills outdoorsMore about our nursery, and how we thanked them last term here: 3D Golden Nugget Appreciation Cards 






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  1. Another awesome post Steph! Reuben is currently at a childminder who we both LOVE but it’s right next door and there’s just him and the occasional other child so he’s totally the big fish…we’re planning to move 15 miles away in a few months time (I’ve been putting it off because of the childminder!)… but I’m ready for him to start nursery as I think it would do him the world of good in terms of his fussy eating and getting him ready for school. So in a large nutshell, these tips are brilliant timing for me 😉 Thanks for linking this post in lovely xxx

    • Thanks Hannah! Having a great childminder or nursery is so often one of parents biggest reasons not to move. But I love that there’s so many specific steps we can take to preparing our little ones, and making the move the best it can be. It’s not just up to chance whether it goes well… I hope you find a new nursery that you feel fantastic about!

  2. Gwenn starts nursery one day a week on the last Friday of September, so last week she had a two-hour session, today she went for three hours and next week she will be staying for four. I think introducing her gently to the setting will help (well, I hope so anyway)! I didn’t get the impression she had enjoyed herself much today so fingers crossed for next week.

    Thanks for the tips!



    • I hope it goes really well for her. I totally agree, that soft introduction is a great start 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you guys next week, have a fantastic weekend & thanks for popping by!

  3. Fabulous advice, and which I wish I’d followed more of when M started nursery last year! He was only 7.5 months so I kind of stuck my head in the sand about it, thinking most of the prep wouldn’t make any sense to him anyway. Although he settled in reasonably well, I probably underestimated him and I now think more thorough prep would have been good for everyone. This year, to prepare him for going back after a long summer, I’ve been a little more diligent and it seems to be doing us all good. As he gets older, routine and consistency is becoming more important so we are finding that sticking to the nursery routine even at home is very helpful. #brilliantblogposts

    • You’ve really thought through your experience and investing into applying parts of that routine at home too… Sounds like you’re very aware and actively investing in making the switch back to nursery after the summer the best it can be. I hope it’s a smooth start for your little one again after holidays 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wonderful tips and suggestions Steph! As a former early childhood professional, I would give many of these sorts of tips to families.

    Another key when leaving your little one off at nursery is to go through all the things you listed but to actually leave as soon as you finish telling them all the stuff (i.e. I’m leaving to go to… I will see you later… I love you…, etc.). I find that if parents hesitate or linger too much, the child starts to feel uncertain about their surroundings as well.

    Regardless, it can be a tough transition for everyone involved.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop. I know my co-host already commented, but I wanted to stop in too.

    Wishing you a lovely day.

  5. Such a great post!! Last year I got a full time job and my kids went through SUCH an adjustment with starting daycare (and leaving the house at 6:30am!). I should have done something like this to prepare them 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing on this week’s #SHINEbloghop

  6. Such a thorough and frankly brilliant post, Alexander starts nursery in a few weeks, the same one Oliver went to which is fabulous but I’m still a little nervous, really hope he settled in OK. Crying is natural and I found that the more days they do the easier it is for them to settle in. This nursery only accepts kids for a minimum of 2 days and really think that’s wise if you can do it! Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

    • There are such huge differences between how nurseries go about getting new kids started and settled in!
      I wrote a short post on our nursery start here: http://misplacedbrit.com/parenting/starting-nursery/
      1 hr info on monday; 3 ’whole’ days together with them 9-3 (tuesday- thursday; friday on their own 9-3. Then they consider it a vital part of the initiation that they’re there the whole next week… After that you can have any schedule, with as few or as many days a week as you like.

      Hope it goes well for you guys! It is a huge difference going to a place they’re already so familiar with.

  7. Some great tips there for the children. I think you should do a post for the adults too. I took my daughter to her first day at nursery yesterday, it went fantastically well for her but I cried like a baby! I’m a little like a lost sheep waiting for her to come home 😉

    • Ooh, good luck! I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow 🙂
      I think the way we respond to them when we drop them off and pick them up is AT LEAST as shaping as anything we can do in the weeks before. Being as relaxed, happy and positive as possible irrespective of what we’re actually feeling, makes a huge difference to the opinion they form about their new surroundings. They’re looking at us, to tell them with out facial expressions, behaviour and body language what to think of this new place. We need to tell them we’re happy and comfortable about them being there…
      Then walk away, and call a friend!!

  8. Some great points here. All make sense but some of these aren’t things you’d think about until it’s too late. Baby L is 3.5 weeks old, so still got a long time until nursery, but this has defintley given me food for thought! #MMWBH

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