Easing back in to it: handling settling-in regression in the nursery years

Maple Bear

Back to school means back to routine, and that’s often easier said than done after months of kicking back, beating the heat and getting away from it all as families often do in Dubai. So when the doors open and the bell goes off, Maple Bear teachers are ready to welcome big grins - but also prepared to work through getting settled in over the coming weeks.

Yes, we may already be weeks in to it, but believe it or not, for many toddlers it still hasn’t been long enough to accept the new routine comfortably.


Post holiday Separation anxiety

Even if your little one is a returning student to the nursery, chances are they may be a bit overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of a full classroom. For many, the separation anxiety may be threefold. Perhaps grandma and grandpa were around for the summer, doting on every antic and showering uninterrupted attention. Often , mom and dad have more time and a less hectic work load, affording bigger cuddles and longer story times. The attention deficit is not easy to adjust to, especially in the tender preschool years, when reaffirmation of positive behaviour is key to learning and emotional development. Sustained positive interactions with caregivers further healthy self-identity formation and are thus sought and cherished.

Finally the return to school likely means a different classroom and new teacher. Suddenly, your little one finds herself separated from the teacher whom she built a bond with over the course of the previous year, and the person she trusts to guide her as she explores new concepts and acquires new information is no longer standing at the front of the room applauding as she masters it all day by day.

So, beyond the probably upside down bed time, the funny snacks and new places, return to school means the end of a phase - not always welcome news to little ones who just wanna have fun.


Ease in to it

Not only can parents make it easier by giving their little one the time to adjust but phasing in the transition to the school week schedule before it all hits is key. Start getting to bed - and up - in tune with the timings that are required for your school day preparation and commute. Try getting out and about at the same time : even if it means just going for a quick coffee run or an breakfast play date, resetting activity schedules to align with the kindergarten day will help your toddler set expectations for meals, snacks, naps , and play.


Back at it

Don’t be frustrated if it takes a few weeks for your preschooler to go bounding back to class. Remember, too, that regressions happen, especially in the younger years. There’s bound to be a lot of energy in the classroom and lots of chatter with new friends and old. Sharing, exploring, creating, and learning are exhausting! If it’s been a few weeks and your little one is still clinging to your leg at the sight of her teacher, it doesn’t mean she’s going to skip out on participating the moment you leave the nursery or school. Create excitement around the activities being done in the classroom, and chat about friends, teachers and even desks and crayons in a positive way. Take a few moments to colour - mimicking the same activities in the comfort of the home will build a sense of ease when she remembers just how fun it is.

The best preschool teachers know that it’s just as hard for you to leave when your young one is uneasy about being left. Most early years teachers will be happy to give you a few extra moments to get your tot settled in, but arriving early enough to participate in morning warm up activities, rather than smack dab at circle time, are much more appreciated and much much more easier to slip away from comfortably.

The early years are packed with rapid growth and newness at every turn, especially so in Dubai where often families are new and strangers are from all over the place. Let your little one be a little one for as long as they need, and welcome your preschools’ efforts to partner with you in making the transition week by week, year by year, until it truly is time to be a big girl or boy.