*Updated Post -BookBairn started Nursery last year. I can't believe that BookBairn has now completed a whole year of nursery and...

Starting Nursery/Preschool - Books and Tips to Help with Transition

Sunday, August 04, 2019 BookBairn 2 Comments

*Updated Post -BookBairn started Nursery last year.

I can't believe that BookBairn has now completed a whole year of nursery and will be one of the preschoolers and one of the oldest kids in her room. I remember this time last year feeling extremely nervous for her and worried about separation anxiety. I was all prepped with childcare for her little brother just in case she wouldn't let me leave when I dropped her off. But honestly it was fine. She had a few familiar faces to help her settle, she had met the wonderful and caring team of staff in her room and she had already played with some of the toys on her visit days. But I know if you are settling a child into nursery this year you will be feeling exactly as I did last year. So I wanted to update this post to share some things that helped us.

I'm leaving this section in from last year's post as I think you can hear my anxiety through my words...

BookBairn is starting school nursery (preschool) today! And, whilst she has been going to a private nursery two mornings a week for some time, I've been nervous about the transition for her. She is definitely an introvert, and whilst she chats a lot at home and seems confident, in unfamiliar places with people that she doesn't know so well, she becomes very shy. Like most kids. And I think she might struggle with separation anxiety. So here are some of the things that we have been doing to help her with the transition.

Going to the Transition Visits

Our nursery had three visit sessions and we went to them all. She got to see which room she would be in, and meet the adults (including her key worker) and most importantly she got to meet some of the other children in her group. As there is a big gap between these transition sessions and the actual start date due to the summer holidays, we have tried to meet up with some of the kids who will be in her group.


We found out that one of the little girls that was in a baby group with BookBairn will be in her class and, as we hadn't played often together recently, we arranged a few playdates straight away and asked along some of the other kids from her class. I know quite a few of the parents already so it has been easy to get them together to just have a play.

Walking Past the Nursery

We actually live on the same street as our nursery so we walk past it often but now as we do we talk more and more about her going there. It's helping to build the excitement and is good practise for the 'school run'.

Reading Stories

As I said, BookBairn is familiar with going to a nursery environment but I have still read a few stories with her about what nursery is like. We particularly like* Maisy Goes to Nursery by Lucy Cousins as it is bright and colourful and full of lots of things we might expect from a nursery day: starting with putting your things on your peg to doing art, having snack, listening to stories and playing outside, as well as things that might be tricky like using an unfamiliar toilet and drop off and pick up times. If you're not familiar with Maisy, it's a wonderful series of books, and for BookBairn, it has been great to see a familiar character doing what she will do. Similarly, we also enjoyed Princess Polly: I'm Starting Nursery by Amanda Li & Melanie WilliamsonThe simple text and colourful illustrations show readers what happens at nursery from visiting the nursery to look around, to all the different activities to do there, going to the loo, having lunch and making new friends. There is also a cheer button so you can cheer Princess Polly along the way (unfortunately our library copy's cheer button was broken! Oh dear!). If you prefer there is a Pirate Pete version for boys too. (We got the girls one because that's the potty training one we had, and whilst I don't feel boys and girls separate books are necessary in general, when it comes to potty training, where boys and girls do have different experiences I concede that there is a need for gender specific books and so I borrowed the princess one because Princess Polly is the character we know best.) These were just two from a whole selection that we found most useful!

*I did borrow quite a few from the library using the request system but, quite honestly, most were disappointing. So I recommend you do this too so you haven't invested good book budget in books you will only read once or twice or only need for a short amount of time. Just ask your librarian.

Potty Training

I briefly touched on this above but BookBairn is potty trained and this wasn't a huge concern for us so we have simply been reinforcing what she already knows as well as encouraging her to be even more independent. BookBairn is quite nervous about hand dryers in toilets (because of the noise) so I will make sure that we visit the nursery toilet together before I drop her off so that she is reassured that she doesn't need to worry about them.

Separation Anxiety

BookBairn has a toy lion, called Louis, that goes everywhere with her (anyone who has read more than one blog post from us will know this!) and so he will be going to nursery too. Our nursery has said they do not allow the children to bring toys - in case things get lost or broken - but they do allow transitional objects. My friend, Katie from A Friendly Affair, wrote this great post all about helping children with transitions and transitional objects which I will link here so you can see why Louis is going to be key in helping her settle:


We have also been reading Owl Babies by Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson and talking about how 'mummy always comes back'. In fact, we have used this phrase so often now that when I drop BookBairn off at private nursery she says "don't worry Mummy, I will always come back". Because she must know that I miss her as much as she misses me. This is such a great book for reassuring children that it's normal to get anxious when your parents go away but that everything will be fine and they will always come back to collect you.

At the time I took this photo we were also enjoying the French
version of the story from the library.

Another book that is really great for helping with separation anxiety is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Ruth E Harper & Nancy M. Leak. We haven't read this as much because the text is a bit wordier and it is aimed at children starting school. It's a story about a little raccoon who is starting school and his mother, to ease his anxiety, kisses his hand so that whenever he opens his hand the kiss will jump off and give him warm thoughts. It's an incredibly sweet and reassuring tale and I will be happy to give BookBairn lots of kisses to hold in her hands if it helps ease any anxiety.

New School Goodies

We picked up a new backpack for big girl nursery and have sorted her clothes into a separate drawer for nursery so that she can choose what to wear. Now I just need to label it all! (Perhaps I should have done that already?)

If you have any other tips for helping her settle into a new nursery and a new routine please send me a message or get in touch on social media! And if you're little one is starting nursery too, I hope they have a smooth transition!

Fingers crossed!
Mummy and BookBairn

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  1. Sounds like great preparation. Fingers crossed. Will be thinking of her. #overanxiouspapa

    1. She ran all the way today - so excited to play with her friends!