As I’m heading back to work in January, we’ve started to prepare Georgia for nursery with her settling in sessions.
I’m lucky enough that my nursery offer as many as she needs before she officially starts and our first has gone really well. Ridiculously well.
I didn’t really know what to expect with her settling in sessions. I knew they aim to help her settle and for me to get used to it and I’d have to answer a few questions, but I didn’t have a clue what that really meant.
Playtime for her, forms for me!
When we arrived, I was asked to take off my shoes as we entered the room. Her keyworker then asked me what we’d like to play with: the playdough, bricks or soft area.
We opted for the bricks as she loves bashing them together and knocking down any masterpiece that you create.
I was then given a few forms to fill out – a few of which I’d pre-filled in – such as whether she can eat with a spoon, knows her ABCs etc… pretty much a set questionnaire for all new children whether they are 0 or 4. So for me, this involved answering a lot with No.
Then came what looked like a simpler form.
Q1: What does she like? Ah simple! But is it? Errm….. She’s 8 months old… she neither likes nor dislikes anything for any amount of time! Even when it comes to food, she’ll like one thing one day and then hate it the next. So I went with blocks and bashing things. Which to be honest can be written for any 8 month old.
Q2: What does she dislike? As above!
Q3: What is her sleep routine? Pah! Sleep routine? Basically, she’ll sleep when she’s tired as the same routine I used yesterday won’t work today, but may work tomorrow.
Q4: When does she eat? A: All the time, or rarely… depending on the wind. But seriously, she pretty much has a set routine for bottles, but the amount of food and time really changes day by day. One day she’ll cry for breakfast and the next she’ll cry at the prospect of a spoon.
Q5: How can we help her? Hmm… A difficult one. She’s quite easy going, is happy to play by herself and doesn’t need much help getting to sleep as long as she has her aids.
So I found what should have been quite an easy questionnaire very difficult. It made me feel like I didn’t really know my daughter that well. But I do… it’s just that she’s only 8 months old and still figuring out her likes and dislikes. It has made me realise that I don’t really follow a set routine either!
After the questionnaire, Georgia continued to play for about an hour with her keyworker. I pretty much didn’t need to be there as she was sat with her back to me and she didn’t look round. Not even once. Not even to check if I were still there.
She was looking at all the other children, smiling at all of the staff. No, scratch that, beaming at all of the staff and generally being a little flirt. Even at the end of our hour when we left, she was happy enough to be held by her – which she’ll only let somebody do once she’s happy with them.
After going into it not really knowing what to expect, or not knowing how Georgia would react, it all became a bit of an anti-climax. She was more than happy to play and seemed really at home there.
As well as a chance for Georgia to settle in, it was also a great opportunity for me to sit and observe what they do in an hour.
The older kids were taken outside to play for a bit to make sure the little ones had some quieter time in the room (and first dibs on toys!). The staff also knew (from the forms) how to help each child get to sleep, whether that’s intense rocking or an obscure technique, they follow it to the letter to help each child to continue to the level of care that you give at home. Unless that involves breastfeeding obviously!!
It’s made me feel really confident about going back to work in January – which I suppose is the aim of the settling in sessions too. I know that she’ll have fun and will be happy there. While she’s there, I will also be able to enjoy my time at work without worrying about her. I hope anyway.