With December having whizzed by faster than you can say “Santa’s reindeers”, we decided to ask three settings how they prepared for the new term and the year ahead. Here’s what they said:

“Specifically for January, I will think about what the year will look like for us…”

As a full day care setting, we only close for one week between Christmas and New Year, so the terms have a habit of rolling into each other! However, there are some things that we do to prepare for each new term.

We start settling-in visits for new children around 2 weeks before they start. During this time, we get everything organised for them, this includes operational things like getting all their paperwork in order, letting our cook know about any dietary requirements and setting up the parents’ access to our online learning journey system. We also make practical preparations such as making sure the child has a named peg so that they and their parents know where to put their things.

Specifically for January, I will think about what the year will look like for us. How many children do we know will be joining us? How many children will be leaving for school? Have these children’s parents all applied for a school place, as the deadline is mid-January? Do all the children who will be receiving funding from January have their contracts in place and, where applicable, their 30-hour code?

I think about what investments we may make during the year and how we will set budgets for them. I also look back at the things that have gone well in the previous year and the things that we might like to change – how will we manage those changes? I look at staffing for the year, too. Are there any planned changes such as staff going on or returning from maternity leave? Do we need to start the recruitment process? What CPD training will we be offering? 

Although it’s only a one-week closure, there is a real sense of ‘newness’ about coming back after New Year. It’s a time to be positive about the year ahead and, although I think about all of these things throughout the whole year, January is a good opportunity to make sure that we are on track for a good year ahead.

  • Jo Morris, Operations Director and Nursery Manager at Playsteps in Swindon


“As one of our managers put it: clean, clean, clean!”

We close between Christmas and New Year so staff have some extra time to relax and build their immunity back up after all this season’s coughs and cold. We are busy refreshing the displays ready for the next phase of learning and review the cohort performance to plan for the next term. As one of our managers put it: clean, clean, clean! Everywhere gets a good winter’s deep clean so the environment is fresh and bug-free for the new year.

Once we are back, all the allergy lists for the smallest of our children are reviewed, as we know they are likely to have been introduced to lots of new food over the holiday. We work with the older children to see what interests they are expressing for the learning journeys especially as the gifts and experiences they have had over the Christmas break has given them different thoughts and ideas.

  • Dr Sonya Wallbank, Clinical Director at The Arden Centre


“Most of the work revolves around building positive relationships with the parents and children…”

Preparations for the new term start back in November or earlier. The focus is on preparing children to come into our nursery as smoothly as possible.

Most of the work revolves around building positive relationships with the parents and children before they start properly in January. We arrange a minimum of three settling-in sessions to help children and parents get to know us and feel comfortable.

At the initial session, the keyworker spends time with the parent to find out about the child. This will include discussion about the child’s interests, stages of development and how they learn. As time progresses staff will consider how well the child is settling, using the characteristics of effective learning and the Leuven scales for well-being and involvement. Later, settling-in sessions encourage the parent and child to separate for a progressively longer time.

The start of the new term also involves practical activities e.g. labelling new pegs, trays and water bottles, sorting out the toys, deep cleaning the nursery and, of course, removing all the wonderful Christmas decorations! We also prepare welcome packs for our new children, which includes a little bag of useful information for the parents and a book for the child – either Guess How Much I Love You or Dear Zoo.

We like to start January feeling nice and clean, organised and ready for all the new children coming in.

  • Wendy Taylor, Nursery Manager at Acorn’s Nursery in St Albans


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