How to Prep Your Child for Nursery: A Complete Guide for Parents

The start of a child’s early learning journey is not just a big step for them, but also for the parents too. Nursery provides an opportunity for children to interact with others, step out of their comfort zones, try new things and propel them forward to prepare them for the eventuality of school. As a parent, it’s only natural to experience a wave of emotions during this time from being apprehensive to being excited, nervous and proud as your little ones set off on a new chapter of independence. Here’s our guide on how to prepare both your child and you for nursery and what you should consider during this time. 


Understanding The Transition

The first stage is to get to grips with the upcoming transition, going from day-to-day life with each other as a family at home, to interacting with new people in a different setting from the norm. That’s why emotional and social preparation and physical readiness is a key place to begin when edging closer to the time your child begins nursery.

Emotional & Social Prep

One of the most challenging parts of a child starting nursery is adjusting to separation on both sides. As a parent, we become used to always having our baby or toddler around us at all times, and likewise for children knowing that you’re always there. If this is your first child it can be daunting for them to be welcomed into a room full of other children they’re not familiar with. Organising play dates and meet-ups with similar-aged children is a great place to start, and also opens up the social circle for adults too who are going through the same experience.

Physical Readiness

As well as emotional and social development when building on the transition for nursery preparation, physical readiness is important too. We all know too well that a child’s eating habits can be messy at times and their sleep can be irregular. Introduce ways for these factors to be worked on with better manners at the dinner table or scheduled naps and sticking to bedtime. This all becomes a familiar routine and when you’re encouraging children to be more mindful of their actions and properly rested, then they’ll be ready to take this forward with a child’s readiness for nursery. 

Choosing the Right Nursery

Important Factors To Consider

With so many nurseries available in the local area, it’s essential to do some research on what each has to offer and whether or not you feel that your child will be comfortable there. Look at if the nursery has an established history and how experienced the team are with childcare. Are they a reputable nursery with good reports in the last few years? What are their facilities like? How much will it cost for your child to attend this nursery? Even before you step foot in the door, weigh up the positives and negatives of each one before you shortlist them ahead of visiting. 

Visiting Nurseries

Attending a nursery open day is a fantastic opportunity to get a realistic view of what it’s like day to day. During the visit you’ll be able to see what the atmosphere and staff are like, is it clean, does it have good quality and age-appropriate equipment and facilities, do the other children look happy? Once you have carried out this visit you’ll be able to have an honest and open conversation about whether your child enjoyed their time there or give you a chance evaluate what you liked and ask any other questions you may have. This step is high up on your priority list as you want to make the right choice for ultimate peace of mind. 

Pre Nursery Activities

Getting Used to a Routine

Once you have settled on which nursery you’d like to send your child to, it’s time for some pre-nursery activities such as building a daily routine. Think about what will need to do when your child starts nursery, and how you can work on this in the lead-up to their first day. From meeting schedules for drop off and pick up, setting times for lunch and snacks, getting dressed in the morning, washing, cleaning their teeth and brushing their hair. Having confidence that this can go smoothly will help aid a stress-free experience for the start of nursery. 

Learn Through Play

Young children love playing with toys and looking at books. This playtime is significant as it develops their educational skills, problem-solving and develops their creative imagination. Toddler groups are also a good way to get children used to building on skills such as sharing toys, taking turns and making new friends. These qualities can be developed in the home as well to build their confidence by tidying up toys and helping out with adult supervision.

Encouraging Independence

Coping with separation anxiety for children and adults alike can be tough to begin with. This phase will wear off as independence in young children becomes greater. This can be encouraged by interacting with others, giving them responsibilities and rewarding them verbally for being brave. Independence in young children can take time to build on, but you’ll be amazed at what progress has been made with the small steps that make a big change. Also, listen to their concerns or look out for any non-verbal messages such as being clingy or withdrawn as they navigate their way through this time.  

The First Day

The first day of any milestone can be daunting for all involved, especially your child’s first day of nursery. After all your hard work searching for the right location and nursery, to building on their skills to help boost their character, it’s a proud moment for all involved. 


Start the morning with positivity by getting them involved with packing their bag with any of their favourite items to take with them - this will help to make them feel more comfortable by taking a piece of home with them. Arrive early so that you don’t feel stressed trying to find somewhere to park and that you can say goodbye properly. Finally, stay strong for them. It can be an emotional moment, so give them a hug as reassurance and tell them that you’ll return later on in a relaxed way to make them feel calm with encouragement to socialise with the other children all going through the same notion. 

Once you pick up your child from nursery talk to them about their day, what they did, who they met, what they enjoyed the most. In doing so you’ll be able to gage their emotional reaction and work on any areas for the future to keep build their confidence. 

Rendcomb’s Nursery

Located within 230 acres of Cotswold countryside between Cheltenham and Cirencester, Rendcomb College Nursery is a wonderful foundation for your child to ensure that they are starting their educational journey in a memorable way with a team that cares about their happiness and wellbeing. With fabulous facilities such as sandpits, adventure playground and courtyard garden, children develop their key skills and capabilities through play and the EYFS framework. Year after year we receive excellent results in inspections and many glowing reviews for our enthusiastic teaching and communication that has an amazing community spirit. We provide nutritious meals and take on board any special allergies or notes of concern to make your child as comfortable as possible during their time with us. 

Find out more about how your child can join us at Rendcomb College Nursery.