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Tips for helping sensitive 3 y/o settle in pre school nursery?

(7 Posts)
goldenbird Sun 23-Sep-12 12:17:40

My DS turned three in June, and on Friday he had his first morning at the local preschool. He is fairly sensitive and shy of other children, tho confident around adults. I stayed with him for 1.5 hours, and then told him that I would pop home and be back in a while. I got a call from his teacher after 45 minutes to say he was upset and could I come back. Since Friday, he has had several weepy moments and one nightmare about me leaving him. He hasn't been in Nursery before, although he was in shared childcare before the summer - all the other kids in his class have either been in Nursery or have older siblings in the same school.

Now, I'm sure this isn't uncommon, but I really don't know how to approach things from now on. The teachers are great and say I can stay for as long as he needs me, but I know that as long as I am there he will only play with me and not on his own or with the other kids. Also I have a 7 month old who I have to take in too - not great. I really like the nursery partly because it is very unstructured - the kids just roam around and choose which activity they want to do. But how do I help him learn to play on his own or with others? And feel OK about me leaving him? Help, please!

An0therName Sun 23-Sep-12 15:13:52

its not uncommon - how often is he going a week? I would suggest you stay for 1/2 hour and then go for 1/2 hour maybe? and then build up gruduably?
do you know who his key worker is - maybe she can play with him as you leave?

goldenbird Sun 23-Sep-12 15:53:26

Every day, as it's the standard 15 hours per week (3 hours per day). The staff/children ratio is very high - about 1 to 15 - so it's not very easy for them to spend much time with each child, but I could ask! And yes, maybe gradual build up is best...

Doraemon Sun 23-Sep-12 16:05:46

DS1 was a very very anxious and clingy 3 year old. When he started school nursery it took him about a month to build up from an initial 10 minutes of me leaving him to staying the full 2 1/2 hours.
We started by him arriving a little later than the others to miss the burly-burly of 20 other kids in the cloakroom, one of the staff would help him to get engaged in an activity, I say goodbye 'Mummy's just going to the shop/to hang out the washing/to do other really dull activity, I'll be back soon'. I would go and walk around the block with his baby brother, go to the swings or whatever then come back. 'Time to go now, oh, what a shame you haven't had time to finish your picture/play with the sand/stay for snack today - let's come back tomorrow and you can do it then'. The rationale being that it's better to take him home early and wanting more than to wait until he gets upset. It totally worked. One of the staff took him under her wing, and if it all got too much for him would take him outside to water the flowers, or if all the others were outside, would find him a 'tidying up' job inside.
On the way to nursery we would often find something (flower, fir cone, leaf etc) 'to give to Mrs lovely Nursery Nurse' and have lots of jokes where I 'forgot' what nursery snack was and would ask if it was coffee/champagne/caviar etc so that he was too busy giggling and saying 'no mummy it's milk and fruit' to get nervous.
I know a lot of parents are firmly of the belief that you should just leave them and they get used to it, but I really feel that for us it was worth putting in the effort of building up very very gradually.

goldenbird Sun 23-Sep-12 16:45:37

I think that does sound like the best approach for us too (just daunted at the prospect of a month!!). Like the idea of 'popping out to do something mundane'.

Was your DS then fine at making friends, etc, Dora?

Doraemon Mon 24-Sep-12 13:19:30

Hope your son had a good morning today :-)
DS1 settled in very happily and loved nursery. He was always better in small groups rather than large and tended to play alongside other children rather than actually join in, but he had some speech and language issues (was born very premature) and actually was recently recently diagnosed at age 7 with high -functioning ASD. So he still will sometimes choose to be by himself or with just one or two other children, but he feels very safe within the group of children who he started nursery with and who are now his y2 class, has a very clear idea of who his friends are, is doing great at school, and even amazed us by choosing to go and do some summer holiday activites this year with groups of children he didn't know.
Regardless of the ASD, I think children do have different personalities (DS1 is in some ways very like DH, who's not exactly the life and soul of the party in a group of unfamiliar people) and it's entirely normal at 3 for some children to need more support than others adjusting to a new situation like pre-school or nursery. A couple of other kids in his class were still being peeled off their mothers in tears by the Teaching Assistant every morning well into Year One....

goldenbird Tue 02-Oct-12 17:56:56

Thanks, that's reassuring! He's doing pretty well now - has bonded well with teachers, if not many other kids yet...

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