Do you remember the first day you started school? I remember it well:

The pain of feeling totally alone and the humiliation that comes from being observed crying.

Well, times have changed now in that most children have learnt to broaden their horizon by the time they start school, but the downside is they have to make the emotional break from home at an earlier age often three or four.

Most children love going to a nursery, playgroup or playschool but that doesn't make the first day any easier for them or for you.

That's why it is important, particularly in the case of a three or four-year-old, that you involve your child from the start in what is a great adventure.

We all know that the best goes first, whether it's the first day of the sales or the most popular nurseries. So, you are probably already planning and selecting a year or two ahead. Do that together.

Kites CIS will provide a list of nurseries close to your home or workplace.

When you have both made your choice, make a point of walking your child along the route you will both take when the big day comes and, with the manager's permission, call in for a few minutes at a time in the weeks beforehand.

In the meantime, you can help by talking through with your child what nursery involves. Listen carefully to questions and answer them honestly. It also helps if you can make sure they have mastered key skills like putting on shoes (those with Velcro fasteners make this easier)and going to the toilet unaided.

Then, when the first day comes, be open and direct. Stay as long as your child wants and, when you do leave, don't sneak out as nothing is more sure to breed insecurity.

Say goodbye and that you will be back. The next day, leave a little sooner.

Although it is hard to accept, most children do cry when their parent leaves them, but are usually distracted in minutes.

As the ad says, there's no pleasure without pain. And the pleasure can be enormously life-enhancing for a small child.