Revisiting old posts - this one is all about the settling-in process in my class.
(In my setting all 26 children begin in September & stay with me for 1 year)
I am a stranger to the children - I may be their new teacher but they do not know me, would parents just leave their children with any other stranger on the first day? Parents should use this time in the classroom to observe how the staff interact with the children. In our system a parent will probably never get a chance to sit in their child's classroom ever again.
Don't be too upset if your child dismisses you on the second day - for some parents this is just as bad as being the only parent left in the room. Of course it is perfectly normal to cry if your child tells you to leave, but you should be proud of the great job you have done in getting their self-confidence to such a good level that they are comfortable in new situations.
Relax - I advise parents/carers (am going to use parent from now on in this post) where possible to take the week off to settle their child into nursery. This way they can stay for the first 5 days if their child needs them to, or if their child asks them to leave during those 5 days, they can at least drop them off & pick them up. Children pick up on it if a parent is too keen to rush away, this will be the time they will be clingy. If a child is anxious about their parent leaving them, we would advise that the parent stress to the child that they are not leaving them for the session.
I would also advise that if at all possible get younger siblings minded by someone else so that they can give undivided attention to the child settling-in to nursery.
Don't panic if you are the only parent in the room after 2-3 days - every child is different, so if a child still needs you to be there, be there. Pick a seat in the room or outside & stay in this spot allowing your child to venture off & explore the room or playground whilst knowing you are still there. The reason we ask parents not to move around the room with their child is that it doesn't give us a chance to get to know your child or for them to become familiar & comfortable with us. We advise to bring a book or newspaper. We may suggest that a parent go & sit in the hallway or office after 4-5 days.
We will work together to get the child settled - Usually after a few days we get a better sense of each child and we can tell when they are ready to make a little break from the parent. In my setting we don't like to take children crying from a parent, but sometimes it can be necessary to do so. If this is the case, we ask the parent to stay in porch until a member of staff comes to say the child is OK, or to ask them to come back.
Sometimes it is enough for a child to part for 30 minutes & then the parent comes back & they go home. What we want is for the child to realise that when the parent comes back, it is home time. I have had children go home early crying because now, even though they agreed to the parent coming back early, they are engrossed & don't want to go home!
Never sneak away - if you are going to leave, let the child know, never, ever slip out without saying to either the child or a member of staff. I have had experiences of thinking a parent was in the hallway when they had in fact left the school premises altogether. If a child becomes upset & I tell them, 'don't worry mummy is in the hallway, I'll get her' & she is away home, that child will never trust me again.
Go when you say you are going - almost as bad as sneaking off is saying 'I'll go in 5 minutes' and then staying for 20. I use egg timers to show the child exactly how much time they have until their parent leaves. However the whole process is ruined if a parent then turns the timer over again after the 5/10 minutes. So go when the time is up.
As I said before in a previous post so far, after 11 years I have always had everyone settled in after 2 weeks but it takes patience on all sides.