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to ask you to help me decide on a preschool?

(13 Posts)
AveryJessup Fri 06-Jun-14 01:38:58

DS (2 yrs 8 months) is at preschool 2 mornings a week at the moment but it is a good 15 minute drive from our house. Things that currently impress me about his preschool are:

1. Staff are young and energetic
2. Location is very safe, set in off the road in a former primary school
3. They have great facilities, large light rooms and new equipment with a whole art studio that children can take art classes in. I've been really impressed with the art work produced by the older kids.
3. Can offer full-time daycare so once I go back to work next year it'll be easy to extend his hours
4. Has a good reputation among the parents I know
5. Director was friendly, bright and professional

Downsides are:
1. DS doesn't seem that well-settled there. He has been there for six months now and says every school morning 'I don't want to go to school, no I don't like school'. I asked his teacher about how he's doing and she said he seems fine, no problems with his behavior. He hangs back when he gets to class though, doesn't want to join the other children in what they're doing and doesn't seem himself. With friends and at the park he is outgoing, happy to say hi to anyone and chats away.
2. Daycare - downside is that the kids who are there full-time seem to have the best relationship with the teachers (understandable). There are 4 or 5 little girls that the teacher sits with all the time while other kids seem to mill about a bit. Also parents are not friendly, there is no chatting at the school gates. Again though it could be because we're only part-time there
3. It is a 30 minute round trip and we are due another baby in the autumn so I'm thinking it will be a PITA taking the baby with me 3 mornings a week (am increasing his hours once he turns 3) to drop him off and pick him up.

So I found a new preschool close to my house. Had not heard of it before, possibly because they only take potty-trained children. They offered me a place for 3 half-days a week and we have done a shadow day there. I was impressed with:

1. Teachers - experienced and relaxed with the kids, positive attitude
2. Children - very well behaved, friendly and kind to my son
3. Outside play area with little garden and lots of different play stations based on different sensory activities to suit each child
4. DS seemed happy there, enjoyed the shadow day. It was only one day though and he liked the current preschool too when he started.
5. More traditional preschool - lots of opportunities to get involved with school, come onto premises during school hours and interact with kids, e.g. read stories, whereas current preschool is more like a daycare.

I was under impressed with:
1. Toilet training - seemed kind of rigid on this. It made me wonder how they would deal with a child that is struggling. Toilet was just one big room with 2 toilets and no doors so kids were peeing in front of each other. Seemed a bit intimidating to me for a child that is just learning to use the toilet.
2. Age group - normally here (am in USA) the preschools take based on age. Children have to be 5 on or before September 1st to start school so with a birthday in October my son would be one of the older kids in class. This preschool takes from 2 years 9 months so my son would be one of the youngest in the year as he will only be 2 years 10 months starting.
3. Facilities - it was an older building, smaller and with fewer toys than his current preschool, everything looked well-used.
4. Director - she was late to meet me twice. Once was a family bereavement where I turned up and she wasn't there so we had to reschedule - fair enough, I didn't think anything of this. The second time I turned up though, no-one was there to meet me. She was at a doctor's appointment apparently. Didn't seem professional to me.

So... thoughts? WWYD? I'm torn as it seems 50-50. If I change him to this new preschool, I need to stick with it rather than have him change schools too much especially with a new sibling arriving.

Christ that's long... so hard to explain the details and background, avoid drip feeding etc. I'm grateful if anyone answers!

stopgap Fri 06-Jun-14 02:06:22

I'm in the USA, too (are you an ex-pat?) and I have seen "preschools" that take kids from a young age, but I definitely consider them daycares masquerading under the preschool label. My son is 2.9, and he'll be starting preschool in September, when he'll be just turned three. It's a preschool for kids 3-5, and the teachers are just that: teachers with teaching degrees. We looked at placed that also took babies from six weeks, but I was never impressed with either the facilities or the quality of the staff.

I have a new baby, too, and a 15-minute drive each way, although baby will be eight months come September. Could you get anyone to do the drop-off for you, at least in the initial weeks?

Have you started potty-training with your son?

Monty27 Fri 06-Jun-14 02:10:10

I'd go for the second.

He liked it, you liked it, it's nearer home and integrates with the school.

Go for it. Congrats on new one too smile

wobblyweebles Fri 06-Jun-14 02:18:06

The big thing for me would be if you are going back to work then you're going to need somewhere that offers full time daycare - does the second one offer that?

If you're not going back to work in the near future then I'd go for the second one, or keep looking. Not sure about how it is where you are, but here it's much less common to do lots of pre-school before going to school. Mine did 2 mornings age 3-4, then 3 mornings age 4-5, then they started kindergarten.

Mine went to a co-op and absolutely loved it - really gentle, caring staff.

Monty27 Fri 06-Jun-14 02:20:36

Keep an eye on the management side of things too, try and see if you know other parents with dcs there and seek their opinions, oh and as wobbly says, keep looking around.

stopgap Fri 06-Jun-14 12:09:32

wobblyweebles you would stand out like a sore thumb here (suburbs of NYC) if your kid didn't do preschool. My child was the only one among friends and acquaintances' kids not in a twos program, and our 3 x 3 hours in September is considered very bare bones. My friends in NYC will have their 3-year-olds in five-mornings a week programs.

wobblyweebles Fri 06-Jun-14 12:22:27

Yes I'm very glad not to live on NYC, some friends from there said how difficult it is to get your child in the right preschool...

AveryJessup Sat 07-Jun-14 02:10:04

Oops, sorry everyone - how embarrassing. I thought I had posted a lengthy reply earlier and just came back to check the thread and realized that it never posted for some reason...

Anyway, thanks for all your responses and feedback. Yes, stopgap, we are expats, not originally from the US. His current preschool is definitely more of a daycare than a traditional preschool but they offer preschool hours. The staff do have degrees in child development and psychology but are not teachers as such.

I have agreed with DH that he will do drop-off for me with DS starting in Autumn so I don't have that hassle but I'll still have to collect DS at lunchtime and he does travel quite a bit for work so there will be weeks when I can't rely on him to do that.

Second one doesn't offer daycare hours wobbly - at most he can do 9:00-2:30pm, 5 days a week. I'm wavering about going the daycare route now anyway though as the cost will be astronomical with 2 under-4s so if I go back to work as planned I might hire a nanny for the first couple of years until DS is in school.

One thing that is swaying me towards the second one is that I have two friends sending their DSs there, one a year older than mine and one the same age so he will at least have a couple of familiar faces every day, which is nice. I don't know anyone at his current preschool and he doesn't seem to have clicked with any of the kids (although at 2 they don't really make friends anyway of course).

We haven't cracked potty training yet stopgap blush - had a couple of false starts and he is now resisting saying he doesn't like the potty. I am going to leave it for another couple of weeks and then try to go cold turkey on the nappies or pull-ups except at nighttime and hope we crack it.

Thanks again for your responses!

wobblyweebles Sat 07-Jun-14 16:21:30

I hired a nanny when mine were little and it worked really well. They could still do a few mornings of pre-school for socialising and developing some early skills, but I liked the fact that they got to spend most of their day in their own home. If you can find a good, reliable nanny then that seems like a great option.

puntasticusername Sat 07-Jun-14 16:32:21

Just on your very last point - my DS is at a nursery where the childcare is excellent but the admin can be a bit haphazard. We reasoned that we were unlikely to find a nursery that was totally perfect and if we had to compromise on anything, it was better to compromise on the admin than the childcare! It's worked out ok so far.

Freckletoes Sat 07-Jun-14 16:38:58

Were you there on the shadow day? I only ask as toddlers routinely go through an "I hate school" period and if the pre-school he is at already says he is happy and settled he may well be despite him saying he doesn't want to go. If you were with him at the shadow day he will have been perfectly happy playing at the new place. So he may be equally happy at either place.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 07-Jun-14 16:42:38

I'd change just on the basis that he's been there 6 months and isn't settled. It doesn't matter how energetic the staff are or how organised the manager is or how amazing the facilities are; if your child isn't happy, it's not the right place for them.

CharlesRyder Sat 07-Jun-14 16:45:19

Are you sure he isn't just going through a 'phase' of not liking going to pre-school as opposed to not liking his current setting.

I think around that time some DC realise that maybe there is a choice about where they are- sort of like before then they just thought home 'disappeared' when they weren't there. I know around that age my DS went through a spell of not wanting to go to him long term CM (who he loved) and it just seemed like he had realised the other option would be to be at home and he tried to vote for that! He came through it in a few weeks.

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