There are many aspects of early years centre preparation to consider as the summer holidays draw to a close. This can be a very busy time of year for early years centres and it is important that all the proper steps are followed to ensure children return happy, safe and well cared for.
Why The Start of The New Term Is Crucial
Many children will be returning to your early years centre, whereas some will be brand new as they reach the appropriate age. In all cases, anxiety will be a common experience for children as they separate from their parents and enter a setting they’re less familiar with.
1. Create a Friendly Environment
The physical space of a nursery or early years provision plays a significant role in setting the tone for children’s return. Try to organise the space to accommodate opportunities for new learning. Create play areas that align with the curriculum goals for the academic year, and that will keep the children interested. You can also update the displays to reflect seasonal changes and new learning themes. By giving the children a fresh and inviting environment, you can instil excitement and curiosity, helping them to feel happy about returning to your childcare provision.
2. Re-establish Routines
Children enjoy predictability and structure. After a relaxed summer, where routine may have completely gone out of the window, it’s important to gradually reintroduce familiar routines and schedules. You could begin by creating basic daily routines, such as breakfast, circle time, storytime, and outdoor play. Doing this will give children at your provision a sense of security and help them understand the expectations of them while in your care. You could create a visual timetable, map out the day, or use a visual clock to represent different chunks of time. This can be helpful for younger children who may not have a good understanding of time or who become anxious easily.
3. Create Engaging Activities
Effective early years centre preparation should centre around providing excellent activities for children. If children are returning from having stayed with you the previous year, they will want to see new activities, new toys and new games. Try to plan engaging activities that encourage children to connect with one another and explore new concepts. Incorporate activities that stimulate their creativity, motor skills, and cognitive development. These could include art projects, group games, and hands-on experiments. Make sure that activities cater to all abilities and backgrounds and that you document the activities for the children’s parents.
4. Promote Well-being
Going to preschool for the first time, or returning after a long absence can be very daunting. Remember, while a 6-week holiday is a short period of time for an adult, it is a very long period of time for a child.
5. Use Open Communication
The communication you have with parents in the lead-up to the beginning of term is important. Ensure that parents have all the information so that they can prepare their children before arriving at your centre. Remember, early years centre preparation can begin while the holidays are still in full swing. Effective communication with parents is instrumental in facilitating a successful transition. Share details about the upcoming curriculum, activities, and any changes to the daily routine. Collaborate with parents to understand their children’s interests, strengths, and areas of growth.
6. Professional Development
As educators, it is vital to stay updated with current teaching methodologies and child development practices. If you can find any professional development opportunities that equip you with fresh insights and strategies, you should take advantage of them. You can attend workshops, webinars, or conferences that focus on early childhood education. The more equipped you are, the better you can prepare your early years centre ahead of the start of term.
7. Celebrate Summer Achievements
The children may have achieved something during the summer holidays that they want to share upon arriving at your centre. Ask parents in advance via email whether the child would like to share anything. This gives the children a nice opportunity for ‘show and tell’ upon arrival at the centre. It also helps you to get to know the new children better and engage with them in a way that builds trust.
You might also like: