For parents deciding when the best time to put their toddler into nursery can be fraught with anxiety and fear of the child not adjusting. However as HEALTH learns, most children fortunately thrive in nursery…
The Personality Type
Children often enter nursery school at the age of three; however children as young as two may enter nursery school. Some nursery schools have age restrictions and parents must decide if their child is ready to enter however experts agree that the ideal age is often dependent on the temperament of the child and the type of nursery. For example, a nursery school with a more rigorous academic program may not be ideal for children that are two years old however by age three, a child may be more ready to separate from parents on a short term basis and begin the process of socializing with other children on a more intimate level.
Signs of Readiness/Unreadiness
- Children that are extremely anxious, fearful, and dependent may have more difficulty adjusting to such a new environment. However many children may experience initial anxiety and slowly begin to adjust to a new environment.
- Children that are extremely fearful of strangers and dislike playing with other children of a similar age may have difficulty adjusting.
- Children that complete healthy developmental milestones may be more ready to enter nursery school. For instance, at about two years old children begin to communicate symbolically and begin the process of language development.
- Children in safe and stable family environments also begin to gain a greater sense of trust and autonomy.
- Children that are overly attached to the primary caregiver will have a difficult time separating even for a short period of time. Even if a child shows signs that he/she is not ready for nursery school, parents can help the child to adjust and take steps to reduce any anxiety it may cause.
Introducing the Concept to Your Child
- Parents can help introduce the nursery concept to child by talking and giving them time to prepare emotionally.
- Parents can help children by focusing on the positive aspects of nursery and expressing to the child that such an experience can be exciting and fun.
- It is very important that parents prepare and inform the child of the changes prior to the first day of nursery school.
- Parents can also help by letting the child visit the school and meet with other children that may be in his/her class. By visiting the school with the child, parents can help make the situation less intimidating and make the transition easier.
- During this process the child should also meet the teacher and begin the process of adjusting to other adults being part of his/ her life.
- The most important factor is for parents to normalize the concept of nursery school, and if parents are showing signs of anxiety, the child may begin to mimic their behavior.
Tips for Parents
- Visit nursery schools and shop around as each is different
- Speak to teachers and maintain contact
- Do not worry if your child is scared or anxious
- Even for a healthy child nursery school can be a scary concept
- Be positive and this will help your child stay positive
- Your child entering nursery school can be scary for parents too! Don’t forget to process your feelings
- Remember that each child is different and one size does not fit all in nursery schools
- When dropping/picking up child try to stick to a specific schedule as time differences can confuse or create more anxiety for the child.