As most nursery schools are small, it's advisable to register your child as early as possible if you want to be at the top of the waiting list.
But don't be disheartened if you don't get your first choice straight away. Stay in contact with the school, as a lot can change in the year between offers being made and the dates when nursery starts (particularly in London where families may relocate or decide to decline a place, freeing up places).
All nurseries differ in their entry requirements, timings and approach. Some nurseries, like prep schools, will only have a September intake; others will have January and September intakes; some even termly intakes. At this early age, a few months can make a huge difference in a child's development.
Entry requirements at ages 3 or 4 vary considerably but nearly all schools now have some form of assessment before they offer a place. This can vary from a written report from a nursery, to a mini-assessment day complete with an individual chat and observation as part of a group. The more academic the school, the more likely they are to test each applicant.
Schools aren't expecting your child to be reading, writing and doing long division aged 3. Rather, they are looking for children that enjoy learning, retain knowledge, show signs of being confident and independent and can carry out instruction.
The best way to really understand the entry procedures is by talking with the people who know them best - the nurseries and schools themselves. At the show this year there are over 130 leading nurseries and pre-prep schools exhibiting, drawn from London and across the UK.
In our theatre sessions leading experts and heads will be answering parents’ questions. I would like to highlight one particular talk that will give you a good overview of nursery and pre-prep entry requirements: ‘Starting out in London:from nursery to prep'. This talk is taking place in the angels&urchin’s Junior Theatre on Saturday at 10:30 and Sunday at 11:15am. You can find out more about all the theatre sessions here.