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What to look for in a nursery?

(20 Posts)
catiscomfybutIneedapee Fri 10-Feb-17 22:00:54

DS has been home for eight months, and my return to work date is looming. I am partly looking forward to being myself again, but partly dreading putting DS in childcare. He has some attachment problems, and can be indiscriminately affectionate, and would go home with anyone who looked a likely new family, and make the best of it.

People tell me 'but he's always so happy!' because of the 'Charm offensive', which exhausts him in new situations.

In light of this, I'm struggling to find a nursery that makes the right noises about knowing about attachment problems, and seeing beyond the 'but he's so happy and comfortable, look he's wandered off and playing and giving the staff hugs already! He'll be fine.'

I really want him to be fine. I'm really not sure he will be.

I'm a single adopter, and have to return to work.

Does anyone have any advice about identifying a good nursery, and where to direct receptive staff for simple information etc? I've tried to broach 'no reward charts' and 'no time out', and that's given me a good feel that one is definitely not an option.

How did you choose your nursery?

Kr1stina Fri 10-Feb-17 22:55:54

I think I'd go for a childminder in your situation.

catiscomfybutIneedapee Fri 10-Feb-17 23:08:00

Would you?!

I thought a childminder would be too much like foster care? Whereas a nursery would have his little friends also dropped off and collected by their mummies, so they could play together, so he'd see it a something you do when you're two. I also need the free hours financially.

I certainly think small and homely with few adults as possible, but had concerns one childminder would undermine his attachment to me? Shakey as it is.

PoppyStellar Fri 10-Feb-17 23:58:41

I went with a nursery for all the reasons you stated (including financial). I'm also a single adopter, my DD was 3 when she went to nursery, and had been home about a year. She coped ok but it was hard for both of us and I agree with Kr1stina about considering a childminder instead. With hindsight, this might have been a better option for DD.

At the point of going to nursery her attachment to me seemed relatively secure, and it was beneficial for her to get the socialisation aspect of nursery and make friends etc. However, she's nearly 7 now and some issues around insecure attachment are beginning to surface. I don't know whether they would have done anyway or whether going to nursery in some way exacerbated them.

If you do go with a nursery, I'd personally, recommend a state one (ie school based if poss) as they are more likely to have a qualified early years teacher, and possibly have had previous experience of LAC children so might be more suited and aware of how to support your LO. I'd also say don't be at all afraid to ask to meet with them to talk through attachment, make them aware of things like Dan Hughes' PACE and to explain the types of behaviours your son might exhibit which may be attachment related (ie reiterate not to take things at face value or brush things under the carpet and assume it's just standard toddler behaviour.)

Will your son get the early years Pupil Premium? I don't know what age this kicks in but if he would get it I would ask any potential nursery how they'd spend it and suggest that whole staff training on attachment and adoption might be a good thing for them to do.

It's a really hard call to make. I'm not sure that nursery is 'better' than childminder or vice versa. At the end of the day you just have to trust your gut instinct and the fact you know your child best. I think if I had my time again I'd look at both childminders and nurseries and make a decision having seen both.

catiscomfybutIneedapee Sat 11-Feb-17 18:36:30

He will get pupil premium from 3. Can childminders claim that?

He is just two, and I was hoping to do one setting until school, and not many childminders do 2 and 3 year funding. I'm also worried about confusing who his primary attachment figure is? (What if he prefers the childminder, and doesn't want me as mum anymore?)

donquixotedelamancha Sat 11-Feb-17 20:46:11

"(What if he prefers the childminder, and doesn't want me as mum anymore?)"

He might seem to sometimes, it doesn't matter. Our Dd loves various figures to bits and sometimes hates us, but being perfect for others probably just shows how attached she is to us. You are the one who tucks him in, nurses him when ill.... couple of years with a childminder won't alter that.

Nursery has been really good for DD's socialisation. We chose a small place, which never uses agency staff and are very accomodating (if occasionally disorganised). I think nursery is a perfectly valid option for you, though you want to ask a lot of questions and make sure they are supportive of your son's needs and the way you want it handled. Nursery may be better prep for school.

I do, however, agree with the others that you should consider a childminder. Perhaps just for a year or so. Ultimately though it has to be somewhere that fits your needs and where he is happy; its not the end of the word to change if it doesn't work.

catiscomfybutIneedapee Sat 11-Feb-17 21:20:01

Thank you. We know an awesome childminder who looked after my son occasionally, but I was wary of going anywhere too homely, and like foster care.

I have been focused on not wanting to have to move him before school, I think I'm putting too much pressure to crystal ball gaze, and finding it so hard!

He's just my precious baby. Can I please just win the lottery instead? Sob.

fasparent Sun 12-Feb-17 09:01:23

We visited many nursery's, as little one has many, many issues, worked with
LA's Statutary School's Disability Team who advised us.
Found out that smallest or biggest, tidiest is not the best, looked at services availability of 1 too 1 , Senco and Training , Observed how children
were occupied their smiley faces and happiness and organisation.
WE eventually found a great one settled in from day one and is included in every way despite his problems.
Wish you the best

catiscomfybutIneedapee Tue 14-Feb-17 20:57:31

"So, what do you know about attachment, in terms of attachment problems and looked after children?"

"Urm, we know some kids are really attached to certain toys, or dummies. And some are too attached to their mums, so find it hard to leave them."

"Oh."

Sigh.

conserveisposhforjam Tue 14-Feb-17 23:11:05

What you want, in attachment terms, is for your child to have the least number of people doing primary care as possible. ESPECIALLY if they are showing indiscriminate affections towards strangers. A childminder is much more likely to give you that than a nursery. If you can afford it.

If you can't then that's all redundant isn't it? Can you? If push comes to shove?

conserveisposhforjam Tue 14-Feb-17 23:12:41

And why on earth would he prefer the childminder?!

Give yourself a break woman!

donquixotedelamancha Tue 14-Feb-17 23:32:16

I don't think it's realistic to expect knowledge of attachment theory from minimum wage, generally low qualified, nursery staff. I would expect their to be at least couple of a more qualified professionals in the nursery (e.g. the manager and an early years teacher) who at least know a bit. There is no reason a childminder would necessarily have more knowledge.

Assuming you don't get lucky with somewhere with good expertise (the ideal is prior experience with attachment difficulties), I think the key is somewhere/someone that will do as they are told. Then you set very clear expectations about how to handle DS, explain why its important, and check they are doing it. For example, if you want them to try to redirect his affection when he's indiscriminate many nursery staff might nod and smile and think you are being silly.

Perhaps ask the place you eventually choose about arranging some training for staff on attachment disorder (they have to do professional development anyway).

donquixotedelamancha Tue 14-Feb-17 23:36:53

"expect their to be"

I'm so, so sorry to everyone. I'll get my coat.......

[disembowel oneself honourably emoji]

catiscomfybutIneedapee Tue 14-Feb-17 23:51:32

That comment was the nursery manager and SEN lead.

I have found a childminder who knew what attachment was, and can do 2 year funding. Currently no space, and if space comes up, she's £100 more than the nursery that was ok. I could do overtime to manage the extra money, if there was space, but then that means working more.

Kr1stina Wed 15-Feb-17 02:51:12

How did you feel about the child minder? Did you like her ? Can you work with her ?

PoppyStellar Wed 15-Feb-17 09:23:30

You must feel like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. I really feel for you.

If it's feasible, I'd suggest visiting as many nurseries as you can to get a feel for them, the staff may not know about attachment difficulties but if , as others have said, they are receptive to listening and learning then I'd consider them (particularly if you like the feel of the place).

With the childminder, it sounds like they've got the potential to be a good fit if and when space comes up. The trade off of having to work slightly more to pay for it is just a necessity and not something to beat yourself up over. A childminder might also provide more stability in that you can carry on using them when your LO goes to school.

In terms of his attachment to you, you're doing all the right things because you're thinking so hard about this. You're his mum. If he has a childminder as well this won't change the fact you're his mum. It might be worth asking for some post adoption support from your LA? It is a pretty slow moving process but there are courses for parents available that focus on building strong foundations for attachment that might be helpful.

catiscomfybutIneedapee Wed 15-Feb-17 09:44:17

I have only spoken to the childminder on the phone, but she genuinely knew what I meant by attachment, although she didn't realise that indiscriminate affection could be a manifestation of problems.

The nursery where the manager/SEN lead was so clueless was then willing to learn, and when I said 'don't worry, I have a mini library, where would you like to start?!' She laughed, and said that sounds great. Which I think is better than the nursery who did know what attachment was, but told me 'he can't have problems, though, as he won't remember.' I have a useless poker face, so I find these interactions so hard. The first nursery also had a good 'vibe' that I can't put my finger on, but was busy. Because it was busy, though, DS joined in with the kids, and didn't head straight for a likely looking 'next mum', which felt good.

PoppyStellar Wed 15-Feb-17 11:20:17

I think vibe and gut feeling are really important. I've based choice of nursery and subsequently school largely on my 'gut feeling' about the places (and I discounted others that were good according to Ofsted because I didn't have a good gut feeling about them).

A nursery / school setting that is genuinely willing to work with you on the issues adopted children can face is worth its weight in gold. It's not that you won't have any problems but just that when issues do arise they'll be wiling to listen to you and work with you to resolve them. Fwiw the lovely nursery DD went to weren't perfect but were keen to do what they could to help. She has very fond memories of nursery (whilst I just remember the guilt at leaving her!). Trust your gut instincts. Best of luck.

PoppyStellar Wed 15-Feb-17 11:47:28

I've found this document londonfosteringachievement.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Attachment-Type-Dan-Hughes.pdf very helpful to give to nursery and school to help them recognise attachment related behaviours and how to deal with them.

catiscomfybutIneedapee Wed 15-Feb-17 20:32:24

Thank you. My wonderful SW sent some resources to share, too.

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