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4yo bored at nursery and playing up

(22 Posts)
mpops Mon 02-Nov-15 13:55:16

I'd appreciate some advice and/or reassurance please.

My DD has just turned 4. She's been going to the same nursery since she was 11 months and has been enjoying there a lot. She was always excited about going and has made loads of friends there. However, she tended to play with children older than her and in September she lost all her closest friends to "big school". Since then, it's all been a bit of a nightmare, tbh.

We'd been preparing her about this change for a while and she seemed totally ok with it, talking about when her time will come to go to big school etc. We talked about it even more when September came and her friends had gone - she seemed excited about being the "big girl" and looking after the smaller kids in her room. But one month in the whole thing, she started playing up: tantrums in the morning (not necessarily openly about not wanting to go to nursery but...), rudeness towards some of the children (not the very little ones but the ones just a few months smaller than her), a lot of sulking at nursery... that sort of thing.

We talked to her about her behaviour, explained that it wasn't acceptable, no TV/treats etc. until her nursery teachers told us that she was polite and helpful etc.

Without trying to condone her behaviour, I know for a fact that this is boredom. She was challenged by the older kids and their pace of play/learning/conversation suited her better. Now she's treated as the sort of "big sister"/celebrity at nursery because she's the oldest kid in the room (by about 4-6 months to the next lot of kids) and that role is not suiting her personality. She likes to lead but she also loves to be challenged.

So what do I do? We've got another 10 months of this. Nursery have decided to make a big deal out of her being the oldest and getting to help with tasks that the adults would normally do. But this is just not enough it seems. She's really into imaginative play and role play and she's not getting that from the little ones.

It also seems that if she spends a weekend seeing her older friends, she is finding going back to nursery on Monday even more of a chore.

Has anyone got any experience with this? How did you handle it?


Umbrelladilemma Mon 02-Nov-15 18:26:58

Hmm, tricky one. I think if I were in your position I'd investigate other options. Is there a school nursery or a playgroup locally? They would have children of her own age. It may mean that the sessions are morning only, or school hours, so you would need some kind of additional care (nanny, childminder) but the fees should be less (school nurseries are free AFAIK) so it might be workable?

Otherwise, maybe look at other private nurseries and find out whether there are any with a larger number of older children.

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Mon 02-Nov-15 20:06:51

Another vote for moving her. We went from a perfectly fine nursery to a preschool attached to a school (as it happens a private prep school). We can, amazingly, still use our free hours, although I know have to think about holiday cover in a way I didn't previously - but hey, we'll have to get used to that for the next 14 years.

Every child I know there absolutely loves it - it's a great mix of preparing for school with eating lunch in the dining hall and getting changed for 'games', having a school day timetable and being around bigger kids, but lots of free and structured play time.

They still hero-worship the oldest kids though grin

ReallyTired Mon 02-Nov-15 20:13:21

Is there any possibly of a school nursery with wrap around care or a private school nursery? Children get to a point when they really need a qualified teacher to plan activities.

Onsera3 Mon 02-Nov-15 20:19:35

I have just been anticipating this situation with DS. He's just turned 3 so won't be able to start reception next year.

He goes to a morning playgroup and could stay there next year. He's well behaved but is smart and huge and I worry he might be too much of a big fish next year.

I worked in a nursery and I observed some of the four year olds starting to act out, seemingly out of boredom. By the time the summer term rolls around they are up to all sorts!

So I will enrol him in nursery class at a school for September and probably send him for the whole day. You could use childminder or nanny for the other hours if you are working.

Around here they can attend mornings for free (ie the 15 hours entitlement) and it's about £50 a week if they go full time.

Onsera3 Mon 02-Nov-15 20:21:14

I worked at a private nursery I meant to say- in a room with the 2-4 year olds. Rather than a school nursery class.

HSMMaCM Mon 02-Nov-15 20:35:58

Have a look at what else is available, while still working with her key worker at nursery. It's quite normal for the oldest children to be a bit unsettled when they suddenly reach the top of nursery (it happens again in year 6). In a few more weeks, she might be fine, but if not, you need to know what your alternatives are.

mpops Mon 02-Nov-15 23:21:38

Thank you all very much for the advice!

So should I be asking other nurseries how old their older children are? Do you think that the change in itself would prevent boredom and challenge my DD, or should I be enquiring about specific activities that they do to help children get ready for school?

Ironically, my DD seemed ready for school in June because she'd spent all of last year hanging out with the 4yo in her room getting ready for school. :/

Umbrelladilemma Tue 03-Nov-15 07:11:30

Yes, you can ask them the ages of their older children. If you are in an area where most of the primaries have nurseries attached, you may find that many of the children her age (rising 4) are in these so won't be at daycare style nurseries. However, even if this is the case, many parents work so their children must go somewhere! Can you ask around to see where your friends' children go?

Strawberrybubblegum Tue 03-Nov-15 07:13:08

As people have suggested, I think the change to a preschool rather than nursery environment would in itself help, because they have a different feel - feels more like the nursery attached to a school than a nursery for babies. They only take children from 2, and often do wrap-around for primary children, so there will be much older children some of the time.

I didn't actually know they existed until recently!

They are often linked to a primary school, so it's worth asking the schools near you who provides their wrap-around care, to try to find them. Otherwise, the search term is 'pre-school' rather than 'nursery'.

Obviously, some will be better than others, so of course you will want to visit a few and get an idea of how they structure their days, what kind of activities they do, what the staff are like etc.

Strawberrybubblegum Tue 03-Nov-15 07:20:30

Oh - just to clarify - if you search for pre-schools, you will find 2 different types of place :
- the ones linked to school (although usually privately run, they 'feel' like state nurseries) , which often do at least 8am-4:30pm since they do wraparound (although a few are morning only). These are normally not very expensive and won't usually charge a fee to top up your free hours
- private pre-schools which only do very fixed sessions. Although top-up costs aren't meant to happen, somehow they do and these can be very expensive. Some are very good though if you can afford it and don't need the longer childcare! It's more like private /pre-prep school.

It's the first kind I was talking about above.

mpops Tue 03-Nov-15 09:45:05

Thank you! Another thing I wanted to ask as well: if we were to find a place in preschool or another nursery, she'd probably start in the new year. Do you think it's worth uprooting DD for 7 months and then her having to be moved again to go to school? Has anyone got an opinion on that?

ReallyTired Tue 03-Nov-15 09:51:27

I think that 6 months or 9 months (if you include the summer) is a long time in the life of a child. I think its worth up rooting her. Intectually she is crying out for more than what her current nursery are providing her with.

Onsera3 Tue 03-Nov-15 10:30:14

I was thinking about a similar problem OP. If I move DS to a nursery attached to a school next year it doesn't guarantee he will get a reception place there the following year. I was worried about the upheaval.

Another local mum has reassured me that many of the children in our area end up switching for reception and they just get on with it. Doesn't seem to be as big a deal to them as we might anticipate. They often have a lot of change from year to year with new teachers and new rooms anyway.

Jw35 Tue 03-Nov-15 10:34:15

Another vote for moving her. I also wouldn't punish this behaviour but have a word with the staff and see if you can come up with some strategies while you're waiting to change nurseries

mpops Tue 03-Nov-15 10:34:34

I wish I'd done this last year, you know. I was hoping that things would work out just because DD has been loving nursery and she's been learning loads there. The problem is that we live in a very oversubscribed area in south-east London and nursery/preschool places are like gold-dust. So it's unlikely that I'd find a place for her somewhere else.

mpops Tue 03-Nov-15 10:37:15

Thanks Jw35. I have talked to the staff and her key worker - their approach was to involve her more in guiding and teaching the little ones, so getting her to engage with them in a nurturing role, while the staff are getting DD ready for school with phonics, numbers etc. It seems to be having a positive impact on her day-to-day life, to be fair but she's still missing the older kids for sure.

catkind Tue 03-Nov-15 10:40:45

We're suffering a bit of this too. Except dd is Feb birthday so not even particularly old. She'd love to play imaginative games with your DD! So don't necessarily rule out on the basis of age. It does take them a while to find new friends. Perhaps the emphasis on being a big girl is not helping? We're working quite hard on convincing dd that just because someone is a head shorter than her doesn't mean they can't be a friend to play with. As a chatty toddler she got used to the idea that other kids smaller than her wouldn't understand her games, that's not really the case any more but she needs convincing!

mpops Tue 03-Nov-15 10:48:37

Good point catkind. I guess the age thing related more to the fact that all her closest friends until August had been kids who were older than her - which she didn't really register as a thing. It just happened that she clicked with them and I don't think she's found that chemistry with any of her current little friends at the moment. She was very close to a 3yo who also left, so that didn't help either! I think a lot of it is frustration because she lost all her best mates in one big go. I'd be the same!

catkind Tue 03-Nov-15 11:17:25

Yeah, dd is the same re friends leaving. I just realised that bigging up 'being the big girl' was reinforcing DD's idea that smaller kids were babies to be looked after rather than potential friends. As dd is tall, that reduces her pool of potential friends to about 1! Who she does get on with, but their sessions don't usually overlap. Am hoping that we can reverse that and help her make new friends by looking wider than which ones are my size.

mpops Tue 03-Nov-15 13:39:33

You've got a very good point, catkind. I wonder though whether, at this age, kids are thirsty for a challenge, someone older to lead them outside their comfort zone and show them new skills. You know how fast they grow! For example, my DD taught herself how to ride on two wheels solely because her older friend at nursery had just learned how to do it. I don't know whether it was the influence of that particular girl that was so strong on my DD but generally I notice she needs challenging. But I will speak to nursery about them not overdoing the whole 'big girl' thing because, you're right, it can stop her from appreciating what the other kids can offer her.

I was wondering whether mixing things up might help as well. Has anyone done that? Having their kids at one nursery for a few days and in another for the rest of the week (or mix of nursery and preschool)?

catkind Tue 03-Nov-15 23:12:42

I guess we have it easier in that way, DD takes challenges from her big brother or just what she fancies trying really.

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