Settling your child into nursery or school

We spoke with Karla Mediah, principal of Dubai British Foundation early years school, about how you can best help your little one manage the transition of starting school or nursery.

Beginning nursery or school is a significant milestone in a child’s life that brings about a mix of excitement and anxiety for both children and parents. By understanding the principles of attachment and using some careful strategies, you can help your little one to take this big step smoothly.

Preparation is key

Attachment is the deep emotional bond between children and their parents and it has an enormous influence on a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. A secure attachment provides kids with a foundation of trust and safety, which is essential for their confidence in exploring new environments like a nursery or school. Here are some practical steps you can take with this security in mind.


Discuss what children can expect well in advance of starting school. Use positive language, highlighting the fun activities, new friends and caring teachers they might find.


Arrange to visit the nursery or school with your child beforehand. Familiarising them with the new environment, including the classroom, outdoor area and teachers, can help quell their fear of the unknown.


Read children’s books together that depict starting school or nursery, as stories can be very reassuring and relatable for kids.


It’s a good idea to gradually align your home schedule with the nursery or school’s routine, such as setting consistent wake-up, eating and bedtime schedules. If your little one will be wearing one, make sure to practise putting on their uniform together a number of times, to become familiar with this new element.


Leaving your child with trusted relatives or friends can help them get used to being away from you, in a safe environment. Start with short separations and gradually increase the time as is comfortable.

The first few days

The initial days can deeply affect kids’ perception of school – here’s how you can make this phase easier.

Set an example

Children are perceptive and can pick up on your emotions. That’s why it’s so important to display calmness, positivity and confidence, helping them to feel like everything is alright.

Short, sweet goodbyes

Prolonged goodbyes can really heighten separation anxiety (for you both!), so opt for a quick, positive farewell ritual that reassures kids that you will be reunited in due course. “See you later, I love you” is a good place to start.


Encouraging your child to carry out simple tasks, such as helping to pack their own bag the night before can be a wonderful way to boost their confidence. It helps them feel involved, lending them a sense of control and independence around the whole process.

Once the first week is completed, it’s still very important to stay connected, be consistent at home and most of all, be patient; adjusting to a new environment can take time and is a big deal for young children! By understanding the importance of attachment and security, and by taking proactive steps, you should be well equipped to guide your child through this transitional period with confidence and ease!

Image Credit: Dubai British Foundation early years school

Previous Why children lie and how to manage it
Next Jebel Ali School makes waves in the UAE with remarkable wildlife record collection

You might also like


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.