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A guide to preparing your child for nursery


23 May 2022

Leaving your child at nursery is a major milestone for both you and your child, and often this milestone comes accompanied by a lot of questions and concerns about the settling in period, what they’ll need and how your child will feel when you’re not around.

There’s a lot that can be done to prepare your child for their first day of nursery, from the weeks leading up to it to the very morning of. 

How to prepare your child for nursery

To make the transition easier for your child, it’s important to start preparing them for nursery in the weeks leading up to their big day. 

Share photos of the nursery with your child

Sharing photos of the nursery with your little one help familiarise them with the environment, children, toys and keyworkers and can help build excitement for their first day. 

On our Find a Nursery page you can search for the nursery your child will be visiting and share with them the Gallery photos. You can also read A Day In The Life Of A… with your child which outlines a typical day for a baby, tot, toddler and preschooler.

Read storybooks about nursery

Storybooks such as I’m Starting Nursery: Helping Children Start Nursery and Spot Loves Nursery are perfect stories to introduce leading up to their first day of nursery. 

Sharing these stories with your little one provides a great opportunity to talk about the characters, how their feelings and how your child feels, too.

read child nursery books

Arrange settling-in visits

Arranging visits to the nursery leading up to their big first day is very important when it comes to familiarising your child with the environment and introducing them to their new playmates, and their keyworker.

For a smooth transition, we recommend making at least 3 settling-in visits over a 2 week period and allowing time for additional visits if you think your child would benefit from them.

Listen to their concerns and answer their questions

It’s natural for your child to have questions or concerns about starting nursery, and non-verbal children may begin displaying signs of frustration and anxiety. 

This is normal and reacting to this in a way that makes your child feel heard, understood and reassured is important. 

Remember to be patient and take time to listen to their thoughts and feelings. Talk to your child about your experiences of starting new and exciting things as this can help your child manage their feelings, too. 

Arrange playdates with other children from nursery

If you know other parents at the nursery or strike a friendship with other parents during visits, consider arranging playdates to help your child make friends before they head off to nursery for a full day. 

Having a familiar face is reassuring and calming and can create a feeling of excitement when it comes to attending nursery!

What will your child get up to on their first day of nursery?

Knowing what your little one has in store for their first day is a great way to settle your nerves and encourage excitement. Here at Kids Planet, we take special care to settle your child in and will always liaise with you to make sure your child’s needs are met. 

When your child first arrives at nursery, their keyworker will set up activities that they know your child enjoys and they’ll introduce your little one to the other children and staff. We always refer to their settling-in paperwork to ensure we know the needs, likes and dislikes of your child.

On their first day, they will be building relationships with their key person and the children within their rooms, trying our yummy meals, exploring our areas and finding out their interests, exploring the outdoors and getting messy! 

young children playing with dinosaur toys

How we support SENDs children and parents

With every child, the settling-in process varies, and with children with additional needs, this can be more so. When settling in a child with additional needs, the process prior to the start date needs to be robust. 

Prior to their official start date, we spend a lot of time getting to know the child and meeting with the parents until we’re confident we can provide the specific care needs for your child. Before your child is due to start we ensure any additional resources, staffing and equipment are in place so everything is set to go for their start date.

Kids Planet has an on-site sensory room which provides a quiet environment with targeted equipment that allows for bonding time with your little one’s new key person. 

As with all children, the key person plays a big role from the beginning. They will get to know the children with support from our nursery SENDCO, so the parents always have a support network they can go to for advice. 

Preparing yourself for your child’s first day at nursery

Whilst preparing your little one for nursery, don’t forget to prepare yourself too. This is a big milestone for you, too so remember to be gentle with yourself and prepare yourself for their first day.

Keep yourself occupied

Once your child is in nursery, you may find that you’ve suddenly got way too much time on your hands! Keep worrying thoughts at bay by rekindling your love for old hobbies, catching up with friends and family and giving yourself some well-deserved TLC.

Seek reassurance from loved ones

Support from your friends and family is invaluable, especially during a phase of transition and change. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you love, even just for a natter! Talking about your thoughts and feelings helps ease the mind and can help you manage your feelings. And if you’re still feeling anxious…

two men having a coffee

Call the nursery for an update

We’re all here to support you, as well as your child, during this naturally emotional transition to nursery! If you feel the need to call up and check in on your little one partway through their day, then pick up the phone and give us a call.

Banish the parental guilt

It’s completely normal and natural to feel parental guilt when your little one takes such a big next step, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make this a perfect, seamless and stress-free transition, because quite frankly there’s no such thing! Every child is different, every parent is different and every experience is different – and we’re here to support you and your child’s needs. 

Remember; children are resilient and with your love, support and encouragement, they will settle into nursery, make friends and learn lifelong skills.

What your child should bring to a Kids Planet Nursery

Your little one will need a bag of their own clothes and personal care items when they attend our nursery. We recommend that you name all personal items clearly on a label or on a postage label and pack:

  • Wellies
  • Coat
  • Season appropriate headwear
  • Sun protection
  • Spare underwear if potty training
  • Spare clothes
  • Comforting toy or blanket
  • Medication should they need it
  • And a photo of your child (4”x6”)

Chat with the nursery manager for more information on what your child will need as this may change from setting to setting. 

When packing your little ones’ backpack, consider buying them an extra special backpack just for nursery. Use this as an opportunity to pack the bag together to get them involved and excited for their first day. They will then know that their comforters and belongings are in their very own bag for when they need them.

nursery backpack

Tips for your child’s first day of nursery

We have so many tips for parents who decide to bring their children to nursery. Here are a few of our additional tips that you can incorporate into your transitional period.

A good night’s sleep for you both

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial when preventing the morning blues and helping the morning go more smoothly. 

Ensuring your child settles into a new bedtime routine a few weeks prior to nursery will help in the lead up to the day, and be sure to have a calm night the day before nursery. 

Breakfast together in the morning if possible

This may not be possible for many parents and carers, but this is a lovely way to share some time together on their big day! Getting up a little earlier to have a slow and calm morning and getting ready can set you both up for a positive day. 

Sit down and have breakfast together and talk about what they’re excited about and give them a chance to share any feelings and thoughts they may have. 

Choose their nursery clothes with them

Children love having a sense of autonomy and allowing them to choose what they wear to nursery is a great way to give them a sense of independence and confidence. 

Help guide them when choosing their clothes as you want to ensure they’re wearing nursery appropriate clothes that are suitable for the season and weather.

young girl getting dressed

A litte girl sitting in her bedroom trying to put on her socks to get ready to leave the house.

Don’t put too much emphasis on nursery

We’ve discussed talking about nursery a lot, but there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck. Too much emphasis on them starting nursery can lead to a lot of pressure on you and your child.

Let your child lead the conversation and when talking with them, keep the conversation light, positive and upbeat. Your child will pick up on your tones and inflexions, which can influence their experience. 

It’s “see you later” – not goodbye!

When saying goodbye to your little one, remember it see you later and not forever! Do your best not to linger and be strong. Hesitating when leaving creates a sense of uncertainty and can make you both feel more worried than what a quick and upbeat goodbye would do. 

And remember, your child’s keyworker is there to settle them and distract them with their favourite toys. 

Consider creating a goodbye routine

Make saying “see you later” extra special with a secret handshake, a kiss to hold or something special that only you and your child share when parting ways at nursery. Having something as special as a goodbye routine can lift both of your spirits and set your day off right!

Remember; there’s no right way to settle in

As we’ve mentioned, every child’s and parent’s experience with nursery is different and there is no right or wrong way to settle your child into nursery. Get in touch with your local nursery for more information and to arrange a visit.


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