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Settling In Strategies


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Hi all,

 

Just hoped you could all give me some insight in to how the rest of you deal with settling in 2 1/2 yr olds. I recently had a little girl start who was extremely shy and cried hysterically when parted from her mum. She couldn't even bear for her mum to walk across the room, needing to follow her everywhere. Without going into the whole story the long and the short of it has been that the mum has withdrawn her daughter from playgroup but she has complained that I didn't do enough to settle her child in. :o So tell me what I should've done!! xD

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Settling in has to be undertaken by parent and pre-school working closely together. If the parent expected you to change her child's behaviour without her help and support you were bound to fail. In this situation we ask the parent to stay with the child, very gradually withdrawing while the keyworker builds up a relationship with the child and parent. This can take several weeks. When the child is engaging in the activities without needing her parent's constant attention we suggest the parent leaves the building for 20 mins while the keyworker reassures the child that mummy will come back. After 20 mins the parent returns and immediately takes the child home. The time apart is gradually increaed but the child must always go home as soon as the parent returns. This is a time-consuming procedure for the parent but in my experience it does work. If the parent is unable or unwilling to stay with the child then it is better to wait until the child is three before trying to leave her at pre-school. Usually these children have a combination of a nervous disposition and little experience of being in a group setting or spending time away from their parent. They need short positive experiences of both to build up their confidence.

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I'm sorry you've been criticised, Carol. :o

I thought about what we do, and here it is!

* One or two visits to the group prior to starting; these can last up to an hour, where the parent and child join in, and are virtually ignored by the staff, so they don't feel too exposed. This is explained to the parent, ie telling them that we are not deliberately being rude, but that we find it easier on the child if they are left to enjoy the setting with their Mum/Dad.

* On the child's first session(s) the parent stays all the time. On several occasions throughout the morning, a member of staff will join the parent and child, and try to build up a relationship with both. No pressure on the child to speak, at this point!

* When we feel the child is enjoying the activities on offer, we encourage the parent to sit away from the child, perhaps in a different room within the nursery. A bit later, we suggest they make a coffee and read the paper in the kitchen, and we bring the child through when they get wobbly. We constantly say "Look, here's Mummy, she's not doing anything exciting, just reading the paper. Let's go and finish that painting and show her later".

* Eventually (!) we get the parent to leave for a short time, perhaps an hour, and give them a call during that time to say how the child is doing. If the child has cried when Mum was leaving I sometimes tell them to wait in the garden/in the car, etc and I'll run out in a few minutes and tell them how the child is. Very often, I find the Mum in tears!

* On the two occasions that the above didn't work, I invited the family into the (closed) setting in the afternoon, for them to play there on their own, having brought in their siblings to help the process. I just sat with them, chatting to the parents, whilst the child familiarised himself with the toys.

 

Hope this gives you some more ideas :)

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Thats a diffucult one! Sounds to me as if this little girl was not ready to be left by her mum and mum is blaming you for whatever has gone before that makes this little girl so insecure and for her own frustration at being unable to get herself some child-free time?

As a parent I would have wanted anyone I was leaving my child with to work with me to settle my child. And that is exactly what I did, I did not take my younger son to playgroup, as it was then, as the staff were obviously too preoccupied to give any one any individual time, thye were amazed that I even wanted to visit and didnt just accept the offered place. :o

When he eventually went to Nursery the settling was long and hard but the teacher worked me so that I withdrew for very short periods(10 mins) and gradually lengthened this to the whole session.

Admission to school was also difficult and I insisited on half days.

 

The difference here, I suspect, was that I was not prepared to leave my child crying and distressed, whereas your mother I imagine is now resentful that she still has her daughter at home? You can probably only offer to work with her to settle her daughter next term when she is a bit older? But I cant imagine, Carol that you didnt try and do that this time.

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Hmm, yes, hard one, isn't it. I agree with everything everyone has already said (od course!) The worst I can remember was a small (very, for his age ) boy of just 3 who was cared for by Grandma during the day. Mum wanted him to come to the pre-schoolfor a couple of sessions a week to build his social skills initially as he had little contact with other children. Grandma didn't like him to get upset, so for the first week or two, as he wouldn't even get out of his buggy not much progress was made. Grandma arrived, sat in the corner in her coat, with the child in his buggy, crying and turning away if anyone approached. Fortunately, Mum was a gem, who approached us to sort a solution. By dint of getting Grandma to take her coat off and start playing(!!), while I regularly stopped for a chat with the little fellow he began to get out of the buggy, then take his coat off, then start playing with me, then allow Grandma to leave for a bit..... It took about 6 months for him to begin to build friendships with his peers, a bit longer with other members of staff, but he was soon thereafter quite a 'leader of the pack'. By the time he left for school he was a boisterous, confident child who will still come up to me in the street to have a chat. He's now 11 and a brilliant young person! :o

 

Hope you manage to sort something, Carol, it leaves a bad taste when this sort of thing happens, doesn't it?!

 

Sue :D

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We have a very similar settling in period as Helen. Parents are allowed to stay for as long as they want the first week or so. We ask them to collect early if they feel their child can't cope with the full 3 hours. But, we have been known to have a parent stay with their child for a whole half term, gradually building up the child's confidence and weaning them away from their parent. They have then arrived the next half term and settled very happily.

It is difficult though Carol as some parents don't want to stay for a number of reasons, getting off to work or just feeling as though they will be in the way. It's got to be up to parents how they play this-they know their child and we obviously don't!

Linda

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All as above but not all parents want to stay. Occasionally we have had a child who has been given an object which is seen as being very important to the parent this has been a purse or set of keys (we advise parents to make a similar set up from old keys or have 2 identical purses) The child is asked to look after it until the parent returns . for some reason the child always believes the parent will return for the object but not always return for the child.

 

I do have one child at present who has been with us for 9 months, who when parent stays will not leave her side despite us building relationships etc. Parent has asked us to take child even though she cries and leaves her with us. The Parent telephones several times during the session, but this is now getting less. The child quickly stops crying once parent is out of earshot/sight, and only starts again when parent comes to collect! It appears to be a protest for the parent about being left. During the session she plays, does lots and is beginning to join in with the other children. we hope to eventually have her stay without the fuss but how long it will take is anyones guess.. She is almost 4 now and understands that crying gets parents attention, but to have ours she doesnt do it.

 

There is no easy answer to this . but parental help and guidance is part of it. There is always one who feels you have all the answers.

 

Inge

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Some parents just cant let go and accept that their child will be happy without them. We've had one leave this term as even though he was getting better mom would sometimes hang around or not bring him or even decide to stay. Very frustrating especially when you know that will patience it nearly always works out.

I'm afraid some parents just dont want to accept their child doesnt need them always in view. But you watch..mom will get her settled somewhere when the child is older and more capable of coping, and then say 'told you so' :D:D

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Thank you for all your replies. :) I was feeling very down about this and felt I had let the family down as well as the playgroup. xD However, after reading your replies I have felt more confident about how I was dealing with it. Her mum had told the chair that she had been attending for 6 weeks and felt we were getting nowhere. However, one of those weeks was the week before she started when they came to visit for 2 sessions. She was away for a full week because the mum was ill. Then she missed 2 sessions (out of 3) another week because she was ill. She had actually only attended 9 sessions in total and I felt that we were making considerable progress. On Monday she had come to me to ask for more milk whilst her mum had gone through to the kitchen to get something at snack time. This was a child who hid her face in her mums jumper if I spoke to her 4 weeks previously and wouldn't be parted from her mum at all. I was so pleased when I told her mum about it but she obviously didn't think it was particularly momentous. :( I can understand the mums position - she runs a business with her husband and really didn't need to be spending so long down at playgroup. However, I do feel that the settling in is crucial and the time it takes getting it right is well spent. :o

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I totally agree with you, Carol. It's such a shame as it sounds like you were very nearly there. If Mum didn't see it as a huge step in the right direction, maybe she would have been tremendously hard work throughout her child's time with you. Sometimes I breathe a sigh of relief when some families decide to go elsewhere!! :o

One final thing...in our initial child profile, we ask "How would you like us to handle the moment you leave your child?" You might like to have something similar, (How would you like us to help your child settle?)so that other parents can't then accuse you of not doing enough to settle their child.

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Thats a good idea Helen, we've got one at the moment who cries loads then falls asleep. We've phoned mom but she said that it's ok. He's obviously not enjoying his time with us but she doesnt really seem to care. At least if something about settling was written down and agreed to mom's might not dump their children. Just a far fetched wish :D

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That's a great idea Helen-I think we will incorporate that into our All about Me leaflet that parents and children complete.

You can never win with some parents no matter how hard you try. You just have to accept that the majority of parents are more than happy with what you provide and that occasionally one slips through the net.

Linda

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That's a very good idea Helen. :) I had thought that we needed some sort of written agreement with the parents to avoid confusion, but was wondering how to do this without creating too much extra paperwork. I'm also rewriting all our policies at the moment, making them more user friendly and less wordy. Hopefully I can come up with a settling in policy that makes it all a bit clearer. :D

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I know it's not possible for all settings, but I do a home visit, prior to the child starting as part of my settling in process. It really helps, the child gets to know me in a place where he feels secure, it's a quiet time to fill in the registration form and often a few weeks down the line the child will mention," You saw my ......." about something I had shared with them at their house.

 

Peggy

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