Integration into the nursery for children from 0 to 3 years

This article is also available in Italian.

The purpose of a nursery is to offer children, a person with whom they can relate to during the long hours that remain outside the house. Elinor Goldschmied (a leading expert in Europe of early childhood services), calls this person the “key person system“, namely the one that will establish an exclusive relationship with the child, taking care of him in particular.

Practically, the key person system is the one who will comfort the child when the parent has to leave the school, the one that will change the diaper. The downside of this is that establishing a relationship so intimate, the child clings to that person becoming more demanding and possessive with his educator.

For a parent is not easy to leave the child to an unknown person, for this reason would be useful to meet the teacher before your child starts. Some teacher decides to meet for the first time parents at home. All this happens because it is very important that the child perceives a situation of calm and confidence when they start.

It will be the educator to assist the parent, in some way, to overcome her anxieties.

As we know, around 7 months begins the difficult phase of attachment. Often this is the period in which the parent, the mother returns to work, but not exactly the right time for the baby, why, and several studies have shown, many children show signs of strong disturbance, when a stranger takes the place of mom or dad. If the separation is prolonged this is what happens to the child:

  • confusion and bewilderment followed

  • violent protests
  • desperate weeping alternating with
  • states of apathy.

If they do not find a person who takes the place of the parent, it happens that:

  • they tend to fall into depression

  • they do not want to eat and play
  • Finally, they assume a state of apparent indifference may seem a return to normality.

This series of stages is very similar to the behavior of people who suffer a bereavement.

Certainly we can not say that bringing a child under one year of life, in the nursery is harmful. Important is that he is cared for well.
If he had not cared for well, it is immaterial that he is at home or in a nursery. The only thing we have to keep in mind is that in a nursery, even if well cared for, will never be an individualized care, unless we do not we turn to the so-called Tagesmutter or, as they call in the United Kingdom, Child Minders, the nanny. Unfortunately for us, in Italy, have recently begun to spread, while in other European countries are widespread.

However, if we need to bring the child to the nursery, we can at least relieve her great suffering.

The best way to overcome the separation is that the mother tries to adapt to the times of the children start moving away from him for a short period, then for a longer and longer periods until the child is able to accept the separation.

The stage of detachment, which can be painful for both the child and the parent, could go with a greeting like this:

  • Mother: “Mom is going, but I come back later

followed by a kiss and a cuddle.

Surely there is no need to leave without saying goodbye, it would be much worse. The child may become irritated and grumpy because he feels as abandoned and angry.

Once the child is integrated, is not ruled out a relapse, then it may happen that one day she/he burst into tears when the mother goes away, or that after a few days at home for vacation or illness, when she/he return to nursery, he still finds difficulty to remain without a parent.

The function of the key person system is also the integration of child, facilitating the separation through loving gestures, but also foster the development of thought, language development and relationship with parents so that they are involved in the life of their child without who they feel excluded.

All this brings benefits to each, children, parents, but also educators who find the urge to do her job well.

It would be nice if all this were not confined to the nursery, but was extended to kindegarten (3 to 6 years), as is in the Scandinavian countries.

Very important also, but this is always to keep in mind, when there are major changes in the life of a child, in the first period to give “extra love“, meaning to stay with the child as much as possible when not in the nursery, so he does not feels abandoned. You try to leave him as little as possible with babysitters or grandparents, at least the first two months and try to be more loving, to let him know that you love him.

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