The number of children returning to settings has been increasing. The latest available Department for Education data indicate that 697,000 children were attending early years childcare settings on 16 September 2021, about 76% of the usual daily level of attendance in the Autumn term.
There is no doubt about it, settling takes time for many children but for some it would appear it takes no time at all. I believe that every child is unique and therefore every settling in period should be planned as unique to support their needs.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, at Monkey Puzzle we provide a settling in process which is completed over three gradual steps. These sessions are flexible to suit and are usually booked in for the week before their start date.
During the first settling in session, we would like to know as much as we can about your child and their routine at home. The setting will complete an “all about me” booklet with you, about your child. The session will be led by your child’s key person which also allows your child to spend some quality time and get familiar with the key person.
The second settling session normally lasts up to 2 hours. During this session, the key person may request you to leave the room for few minutes. The key person would engage the child in his/her favourite activities, if he/she becomes distressed and if this proves unsuccessful, you would be contacted to come back in the room. The length of time the child is left for would gradually increase as they grow in confidence.
This visit can be in the morning or afternoon, enabling your child to experience different part of the routine in a day such as having an afternoon nap at the setting.
While most of our settings offer 3 settling in sessions, some children can take more time to feel settled and this could be due to their personal experiences – e.g., first time nursery experience, being the only child at home or secure attachments with parents. In that case, the setting would adapt their settling in procedure by offering more and shorter sessions to ensure the child is fully settled.
The setting will stay in contact with you during the time the child is left, this could be a quick phone call, or you would receive a message/picture on the FAMLY app showing how your child is doing.
Monkey Puzzle recommends that parents arrange times for a settling-in visit when their child is normally at their most content, i.e. not hungry, tired or under the weather.
From past experiences, we know that the more the setting knows about the child, the more they can support them to settle in. Hence, we would request the parents to help the setting find out as much as they can to support each child and help them settle safely, happily and confidently.