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Stay at day nursery or move to school nursery class? (sorry long)

(15 Posts)
ManchegoandChutney Mon 18-Mar-13 20:39:31

I realise this has been done before, but want to get some current thoughts. What are people's experiences of moving a child into school pre-school class and would you recommend it or not? What are the main considerations.

DS has been offered a place in the pre-school class at our local 'good' primary school, to start in September. He'll be going there for reception in 2014 for sure (we live practically next door, so we will get in if we apply!). He's currently in a private day nursery 8am-6pm on the 4 days/week I work. He would do 5 mornings at the school. I am seriously considering the school option, so he develops friendships that will continue with him into school years and also gets used to the 'structure' of school, the building etc. I can just about make the logistics work with some school wrap around care (breakfast club/after school club plus some childminder time) to make the two options work around my job.

Is it worth disrupting him with the move? He loves nursery and is very clear what he would rather do. But, most of his best friends will be leaving for school in September (he is an October baby and his 'class mates' are between 3.0yrs to 4.6yrs). Having been at the same nursery since 9mo I think he might be ready to move on.

Pros and cons: child/adult ratio is slightly better at the day nursery, but the staff are more highly qualified at the pre-school. Both places follow the EYFS so technically the same 'curriculum' but I think the way this is delivered is a bit different. So far as I can tell, the day is a bit more structured at the school nursery and they have 'school-like' facilities like interactive white boards, PCs, which the day nursery doesn't have. Both nursery and pre-school do phonics and numbers within their activities as well as lots of child-centred free flow play. Slightly bigger outside space at the pre-school but 'nicer' outside space (e.g. garden with planters) at the nursery. Nursery is OFSTED 'satisfactory', the school is 'good' (but I am sceptical about Ofsted reports). He's quite bright for his age (natch) - knows all his sounds, numbers into the 30s, generally interested in the world, and quite sociable. His nursery class will constantly be refilled with children turning three (who will come up from the younger rooms in the nursery), whereas the age band will be narrower, with fewer younger children in the pre-school - which probably has pros and cons.

I always thought we would stick with the nursery, because the logistics are a lot simpler however, I have been somewhat dissatisfied recently with the way they communicate and they are pretty sloppy at completion of children's records (explains the ofsted!). They have a pre-school teacher, and their understanding of EYFS is good so far as I can tell, however I think there's some underlying issues with the staff and I suspect there'll be some turnover in the next year which could be disruptive.

So, what did you do? What do you think about this situation? I am in a total quandry and need to decide before the end of the week. Argh!

Also does anyone have experience of a three year old in the after school club? Does it sound like a crazy idea? We'd have to use it if we are to make the pre-school option work.

ManchegoandChutney Mon 18-Mar-13 20:39:53

Sorry so long!! Thank you for reading and would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

paneer Mon 18-Mar-13 20:46:27

What options do you have for childcare during school holidays?

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 18-Mar-13 20:51:16

Firstly, are you sure that the after school club will take nursery children? (ours won't) And what about school holidays? (our school nursery has even shorter terms than the school)

If you are certain that wrap around is fine, based on DS's experiences of starting school nursery for just under a year when we moved into the area, I would add to your list:

- going five days a week is a good way to start to ease into the school pattern

- he might make some friends that carry over into school (he might not, depending on admissions and how many forms there are!). DS is still really good friends three years on with the boys he met back then

- it can make starting school a bit less daunting if he has been there previously for nursery, and has had a chance to ease himself in

If you're not particularly pleased with the day nursery, it might be time to move on to another setting?

PoppyWearer Mon 18-Mar-13 20:51:17

With DC1 I kept her in private nursery. It was an excellent nursery and DC2 now attends. DC1 definitely got a good grounding and excellent care there. She wasn't fully potty/toilet-trained at 3yo so the school option would have been tricky, whereas the nursery was ok with it and helped her. But I didn't appreciate, until she started at school last September, just how many of her classmates at school would have attended the school-pre-school, IYSWIM.

Because of this, several of her classmates started in Reception with good friends. DC1 thankfully had a couple of children from nursery to get her started, and has now built on those friendships.

I'm planning on a different approach with DC2, a mix of both (ideally). So probably 1 or 2 days at the private nursery, then 2 sessions at the school-affiliated one. I hope that this will be the best of both worlds.

Themobstersknife Mon 18-Mar-13 20:51:56

We had the exact same dilemma a year ago. In the end, we decided to move DD1 to the school nursery last September, a year before she starts reception. She has loved going to school and we have noticed a massive change in her - she is more confident and she is learning so much. It is not really a like with like comparison, because she only just moved up to the pre school room at the private nursery before she moved. But I, like you, was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the goings on at the private nursery and the staff turnover was getting silly. We do get a lot less feedback than you would get from a nursery, but the school warned us about this on several occasions before we signed her up. We are lucky that the school provide extra sessions and also breakfast and afterschool clubs. We use the extra sessions but not the clubs. But some of the children do use the clubs and the school use the same 'teachers' as they use during the day, so it is not an issue. We have never regretted moving DD1 but it does very much depend on the actual school and nursery. We have found a much better private nursery for DD2 so it would be a more difficult decision to move her. Good luck with whatever you decide.

intheshed Mon 18-Mar-13 20:53:13

I kept DD in her preschool rather than send her to the school nursery as it fitted better with my working hours and ahe was very settled there. Although we were pretty certain her best mate from nursery would go to the same school, which she did, so that made settling in easier. However she now has lots of friends, both kids who went to the school nursery and those who didn't.

I would just go with what works best for you. Also bear in mind that suddenly going from all day care at one place to a mix of breakfast club/childminder/new nursery etc could be quite unsettling for him.

NK2b1f2 Mon 18-Mar-13 20:54:19

I've recently moved my 3 year old from nursery to the pre school nursery class. In my case dd2 seemed to have outgrown the nursery setting and feels much happier being in a more structured pre school with 3 and 4 year olds. (I also had a few other issues with the nursery due to a change in management). For us it has worked really well and dd2 loves breakfast club and after school care, although the benefit for us is also that she sees her sister and it is much easier doing one drop off and pick up.

No real advice, sorry, just my experience.

manchegoandchutney Mon 18-Mar-13 21:20:23

Thanks. Re wrap-around - yes there are some extra sessions and the after-school will - I am told - take three year olds although I got the impression that it doesn't happen much or at all at the moment. I'm going to try and take a look later in the week as I'm anxious about this part of the arrangement.

thanks for sharing views - your experiences are helpful - helps me to think through this.

redskyatnight Mon 18-Mar-13 21:32:23

I think as well as comparing day nursery with school nursery you need to compare day nursery with school nursery/child minder/wrap around care combo.

The day nursery has the undeniable pro of having everything under one roof, with no switching from session to session. Would you get afternoon wraparound care at the school nursery or is this what the childminder is for? Remember with the combo he has to adjust from breakfast club to nursery to childminder to afterschool club. All of which potentially have different children/adults/rules. That's quite a lot to cope with.

DD's school offers breakfast and after school club to nursery children but it's an infants (so less of an age range) and they offer "school day" care within nursery. From talking to parents I think the consensus is that nursery plus wrap around is tiring for the child (more so than day nursery where there are more "rest time" possibilities plus they structure over the whole day). I don't think I know anyone that's used it for as many as 4 whole days for nursery children.

I have personal experiences of doing both. DS stayed at his day nursery until starting school, whereas DD went to school nursery with the wraparound care to bring it up to a full school day.
I think DD had a slightly easier settling into school than DS but the effects of this only lasted for a few weeks. DD's best friend from nursery did not move up to school so she was forced to make a new best friend anyway! (and in fact her new best friend is a girl who didn't go to the school nursery).

I did find that DS had had enough of day nursery by the time he finished, but equally the school nursery was great for the prescribed session, but it felt like the children were left to their own devices rather in the wraparound bit. I would expect breakfast/after school club not to be tailored to EYFS (more just for children to play) so in this respect less "good" than the day nursery.

Just some random thoughts ...

Teddyking1 Mon 18-Mar-13 21:35:15

I would move to the school.
Your child will be more academically challenged and prepared for school
It is free
It will be poles apart from day nursery this is what I found in my own experience.

wearymum200 Mon 18-Mar-13 21:47:03

We went with staying with the nursery option for both of mine. Both dc were very happy there (and in the same place as each other for anothe year), so for convenience because my 3 days work were fully covered (and we got the government subsidy from age 3 so got our "free" hours that way ,it was great. They were very happy and challenged (in a good way) as they were doing eyfs in a structured environment anyway.
It definitely worked for us and certainly did not hold either back academically or socially (dd2 is still at nursery but, as it turns out, we're moving in august, so she will get a single move instead of 2).
It might not work so well if your nursery does fewer activities which suit your child or if all the reception class is going to have been together the previous year.
I would however look long and hard at the afterschool care; would your lo cope with being far the smallest in a big rowdy group?

ManchegoandChutney Mon 18-Mar-13 21:58:14

The wraparound is all in the same building,but yes I take the point about the number of changes (it will be different rooms and I presume the staff are different) and about the less structured activities and older children racing around. I spent a bit of time volunteering in an after school club when I was a student and used to find that the olders ones were actually pretty considerate of the tinies - either looked after them nicely or kept well away but I need to understand the mix of ages at this place I think and what they actually do with the younger ones.

Just been looking at the ofsted for the out of hours. It is 'good' with some outstanding features related to outcomes and has the following quite reassuring comment in relation to the consistency point: "use of the school facilities are openly shared and the club follows the school projects, events and festivals; this enables the club to extend the children's learning effectively."

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 18-Mar-13 22:31:18

On after school, it might depend whether your DS is a big, confident lad who can take the inevitable rough and tumble of being with the bigger kids when they need to burn off some steam post-school, or not. DS at 5 (and certainly capable) found after school club took a lot of getting used to.

southnorwoodmum Tue 19-Mar-13 10:17:30

I have experience of DS1 going to pre-school with breakfast club and afterschool club in the same building. Stimulation-wise he was better off, definitely, but my main and only concern was his food. Breakfast was OK, they made sure they ate. I had to provide lunch box every day and sometimes it got returned only half-eaten. The afterschool club was a bit of joke though. Sometimes they would cook pasta bolognese, and sometimes it was only toast and jam, and you don't get a diary to see how much of what they ate. In contrast, a day nursery offers warm food througout the day and gives a diary of the eaten food.

My DS2 is now in a day nursery (he is 2.4yo) and I will have the same dilemma as you, once he approaches 3.5yo. If I can manage to pack hot food for his lunch most of the days I would choose pre-school.

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