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Making a child feel comfortable and 'at home' when they are actually away from home at a childminder's or nursery can be hard because every child is different and has different associations and needs. Some children settle very quickly in a new environment. Others take a long time to get comfortable and need a little more easing into a new place
What can do to settle children and make them feel at home at a nursery or childminder's?
- Label their belongings with their name and even a picture. Label their coat peg, their drawers for art and craft, and even their chair if there is one. Give them a sense that they belong in their new setting.
- Have photographic displays: pictures of them with their family and friends, or photos of days out and about.
- Have a special beaker or plate which is only theirs.
- Give them special jobs: cups are cleared away after each meal by one child, and the table is wiped by another child.
- Homecorners are an important part of making a child feel they belong. There are lots of things there that they can associate with home(play kitchen, play sofa or bed etc) and they can do lots of home role play.
- Routine can help settle a child too: if they know that certain things happen at certain times, they can take comfort from that. They can predict that a play outside comes after a snack or a story comes before a nap and can feel happy about that familiarity.
- Special friends: bringing in a special teddy or doll is a great way to comfort those who are a little nervous.
Children become attached to all sorts of things: blankets, muslin squares, cushions, dolls or bears etc. Years ago children were not encouraged to have a 'comforter' but today its considered acceptable.
Should children have a 'comforter'?
- Comforters offer a link with home.
- Children associate them with happy times and feeling relaxed and secure so can make them feel better if they are nervous.
- They can help with getting children off to sleep as they associate the comforter with being happy, and sleepy at home.
- They can be a 'constant' if children are being moved around settings or if their routine is changing.
- They learn to self sooth and often sleep better because of this.