Choosing the Right Age for Nursery: A Parent’s Guide

by Kids Inc Nurseries | 17 April 2024 | Blog

Choosing when to start nursery is a deeply personal decision that varies with each child and family situation. It’s often a combination of emotional readiness, practical considerations and developmental milestones that can vary significantly from child to child.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we’re here to guide you through the key factors that can help you determine the best timing for your child. From understanding developmental readiness to considering family needs, we’ll provide insights into what makes for a successful nursery transition at various ages.

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The Statistics

Recent data from the Education Provision shows that the majority of children entering nursery are between the ages of 3 and 4, with 1.2 million registrations for 15-hour entitlements in 2023 for this age group. In contrast, 2-year-olds enrolled for the same entitlements stand at 142,300.

These figures highlight a general trend towards starting nursery at ages 3 to 4. However, it’s important to remember that these statistics reflect broader trends, not individual readiness. Your child’s transition to nursery should be based on their development, your family’s needs, and your personal values.

Infants (3-12 months)

Welcoming infants as young as 3 months into our nursery is something we approach with both understanding and experience. We recognise that this is a tender age for starting nursery, which is why our environment is tailored to meet the needs of our youngest members. Safety, care, and a nurturing atmosphere are our top priorities, ensuring that your infant’s emotional and physical development is supported every step of the way.

To make this transition as smooth as possible, we recommend gentle introductions. Brief and regular visits can help your baby become familiar with the new setting and our team. This approach not only helps in building trust and comfort but also reassures you that your little one is in capable and compassionate hands.

Young Toddlers (1-2 years)

Young toddlers aged 1 to 2 years are entering a rapid growth in mobility, allowing them to explore and navigate more freely. This age is all about discovery, where young toddlers take those first independent steps, begin finding their voice and form their first friendships.

Our focus is on personal, social, and emotional development to ensure your child learns to express themselves and understand their own emotions and those of others. Our activities are thoughtfully designed to develop a warm sense of community to make every child feel included. 

Through song, storytelling and fun interactive play, we encourage young toddlers to explore language in what that’s engaging and educational. This balanced blend of play and learning supports their language skills and cognitive development.

Older Toddlers (2-3 years)

Older toddlers are entering the world of friendships, empathy and self-awareness. This is where we nurture their personal, social and emotional growth. 2-3 years is an important age where interpersonal skills are developed and nurtured through group activities and social play.

At this stage, structured play sessions and activities challenge older toddlers to think creatively and solve problems while having a great deal of fun. 

Older toddlers begin to expand their vocabulary and engage in conversation. Through storytelling, music and interactive play, we develop a love for language that supports their cognitive development.

Pre-schoolers (3-5 years)

Children’s personal, social, and emotional development begins to flourish at the preschool stage. They start navigating more complex relationships, understanding a broader spectrum of emotions, and learning effective behaviour management. 

This is an important time when collaboration, negotiation, and empathy are part of everyday learning, setting a solid foundation for healthy social interactions and emotional resilience.

Academically, our focus shifts to building a robust foundation in literacy and numeracy, guided by the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Our engaging, play-based curriculum invites children to discover the wonders of reading, immerse themselves in storytelling, and express their creativity, making learning a fun part of their day. 

Simultaneously, we introduce early maths concepts through activities that blend seamlessly with their play, ensuring that academic skills are developed in a way that feels natural and enjoyable.

Physical development continues to be a key focus, with a range of activities designed to strengthen fine and gross motor skills. This contributes to their overall health and prepares them for the physical demands of school life, ensuring they are ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Readiness Indicators

We’ve established that no single age is right for all children to start nursery. Instead, recognising your child’s readiness for nursery can help you decide on the right time for them. Let’s explore some key indicators to help you gauge whether your child might be ready for nursery.

For Very Young Infants (0-6 months):

  • Responsive Care: The nursery’s ability to provide individualised, responsive care is key. Look for a setting that offers a calm, nurturing environment with plenty of one-on-one attention.
  • Sensory Environment: A space that offers gentle sensory stimulation, such as soft textures, soothing sounds, and visual contrasts, can support your infant’s early development.

For Older Infants (6-12 months):

  • Social Engagement: Interest in faces and basic interactions, even if just through observation, can indicate readiness for more social environments.
  • Routine Compatibility: An ability to adapt to a structured routine, such as regular nap times, can ease the transition to nursery settings.

For Toddlers:

  • Independence Milestones: Signs like self-feeding, showing curiosity about peers, and basic communication indicate readiness for the social and learning opportunities a nursery provides.
  • Adaptability: Comfort with new adults and environments, along with the ability to engage in play, suggests a toddler might thrive in the nursery.

It’s important to remember that nurseries are designed to support children at various stages of development, with staff trained to cater to the wide-ranging needs of infants and toddlers.

If you’re considering nursery for your very young child, look for facilities that emphasise personalised care, low child-to-carer ratios, and environments tailored to the very early stages of development.

In making your decision, trust your knowledge of your child’s comfort levels and needs, and don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns with nursery professionals. Together, you can determine the best timing and approach for introducing your child to nursery, ensuring a positive experience right from the start.

EYFS at Kids Inc

Learn about how the EYFS framework shapes your child’s learning and development with us.

Visit our EYFS page

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