For children to flourish and be able to access all the learning opportunities available to them, they must first feel safe and happy. This is why we encourage children to have as many settling in sessions as they need to begin to feel secure in the preschool environment. Settling in sessions are at no financial cost to parents.
All parents will be called at least one month in advance of their child’s start date to arrange some settling in sessions. The aim of these sessions is for the child to feel happy and secure enough to allow their parent/carer to leave them in the preschool room with their key person for a short period of time.
Child and parent stay and play for an hour with minimal contact with staff. The key person will ideally be in session and able to say a quick hello and have a little play. We do not want to overwhelm a child on their first visit which is why we step back a little. Please do not mistake it as a lack of interest, just our way of giving your child some ‘space’ on their first visit. One of the managers will chat with the parent to explain a bit about the preschool and to answer any questions you have, and then retreat a little and let you both explore and play. This first session can be a good indication as to how many more settling in sessions your child may need and we will discuss this with you at some point. Be aware that you know your child best and we will always follow your lead.
The second stage is when the key person will try to start to play more with the child and we encourage the parent to retreat a little. The parent doesn’t have to go far, just trying to be very boring stood on the side lines. The child needs to know this is where they come to play, not where mummy (any parent/carer) comes to play too.
The parent starts to move to the other side of the room, maybe to get a tissue. The parent needs to repeat this action many times until the child stops following the parent and is happy to know that they will return.
Once a child is happy to play with the other children/on their own/with their key person and happy for the parent to quickly pop out of view, then we attempt a longer separation. The parent must always tell the child they are about to leave (to go to the toilet/get a cup of tea/make a phone call) and tell them they will be back soon. It really helps here if the parent can keep a positive tone to their voice and not cuddle their child too much (we know this can be very hard as leaving your child can be very emotional for parents, particularly if the child appears unhappy).
Once the parent has said they are leaving, they must then (supervised) leave the main play room, even if the child cries, the parent is still encouraged to leave. If the child is very upset we suggest the parent counts to 30 then comes back into the room. The child needs to understand that when their parent says they will come back they do return. This is then repeated a few times, gradually increasing the amount of time the parent spends out of the room. The aim is that the child can be settled by their keyperson and are happy to play.
A child can start their session once a child is content with their parent saying bye and leaving them to play for an hour visit.
Some children will always become unsettled when their parent leaves them, no matter how many visits they have had. If this is the case, a member of the management team will speak with the parents to agree a plan which meets the best needs of the child and continues to support the parents.
When a child begins visits at the preschool they are provided with a photo book. This contains pictures of the preschool room and their key person and allows parents to chat about preschool at home. Parents are given a chatter bag with instructions on how to use it. Parents are also encouraged to complete an all about me form which helps the keyperson get to know the child.