Getting your child ready for nursery

Monday, March 2, 2009

This was a question asked on a comment left on our blog. Feel free to add any of your own suggestions. These are my opinions and should not be considered official views of the church or our leadership of our ward, (ie. the bishopric or primary presidency) For an official letter to parents from the church click here.

Each child is different. Some are ready to go right into nursery, some are not. Some seem fine at first then learn to cry when dropped off.
Here are a few pointers I have found that make a difference.

1. A child needs to have been left with others. (those who have never been without mom, struggle more than others.) This also means being left without siblings sometimes too. Matthew has always been fine being left if one of his sisters were there, but it has taken some extra work to leave him alone. I leave him now once a week for an hour to play with a friend with no family. He now has a couple of really good friends.

2. Teach them to use two hands with a cup. We have used sippy cups in nursery in the past and and mini paper cups. I prefer the paper as a parent, so I don't have to worry about how well the cups were cleaned. We usually spend the first month training an new child how to drink from a cup. It only takes a month or less and they figure it out. Some parents try to drop off a sippy cup of their own. Bad idea. It causes fighting and tears. Sometimes another child will drink out of it. It just is more of a pain than it is worth. If a child is thirsty, they will learn to drink out of a cup or we will take them to the drink fountain.

3. Don't send personal items with your child. Nursery is a time to learn to share. Personal items are hard to share. They can get broke or lost. It is not worth it being turned into a bad experience.

4. Ask your nursery leader what songs are being sang. There are usually a few regulars and then one that goes along with the lesson and then some seasonal songs.
Our favorites are:

  • Do as I'm doing
  • If you chance to meet a frown
  • If your happy and you know it
  • Sunbeam
  • I pray in Faith
  • I am a child of God
  • Happy Family
  • I love to see the temple
  • Head, shoulders, knees and toes
That is just to name a few. What I like about each of those above songs is we have either something for the kids to hold or an action for them to do. Most of the actions come out of the new nursery manual. Last week, our lesson was on love. I think my group is ready to learn a few of the sign language signs to the song love one another. Not all the signs, but some of them. Best of all they are found in the children's song book.

5. As nursery time is approaching, start peeking in the window (If that doesn't send other kids crying). If so peak into another class that is a little older. Point out the fun things they are doing in class. Let them know that soon they will be big and can do those fun things.

6. Lastly, have family home evening. Many one year olds can sit still for a 1-2 minute lesson, some can sit still up to 5 minutes. If they are not ready to sit still, don't turn it into a battle. They still can listen if they are up and moving or playing quietly. The lesson for them does not have to be long or detailed. The new nursery manual "Behold your Little Ones" is perfect for a FHE lesson. Often the lesson is about a song or a bible story. These engage these little ones for a short time. Also reading stories to your child helps them to learn to sit and focus.

All and all most kids learn to love nursery in a short amount of time. There is so much to do and so much to learn for both the child and the leader.