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Childminder up until school age? Will my son be disadvantaged not to get nursery experience?

(16 Posts)
imme Mon 18-Feb-13 11:21:47

Our DS (2.9) has been going to the same childminder since 1 year old. He is perfectly settled, loves playing with the other children, both toddlers and school kids and generally thrives. DH and I love our childminder and count our lucky stars that we found her. Apart from creating a loving environment she also cooks from scratch for the children, invests in plenty of new toys and is flexible in terms of timing - which suits us well due to working long hours.
Because DS will be 3 soon I have been thinking whether it would be beneficial for him to go to nursery to learn to be in a bigger group of children and to form early friendships. I went to kindergarten at that age and the experience definitely helped prepare me for school. We have been offered a place at a wonderful nursery but the issue is that the nursery doesn't offer full hours (only 9-3) and we would still require wrap around childcare. I am not sure our childminder is keen to offer wrap around care, but we wouldn't be able to afford both full time childminder as well as the nursery.
My gut feeling is that we just keep him at the childminder until he starts school - it would certainly be the solution we can afford. On a typical day there are usually 2-3 toddlers (him included) and around 2-4 school children in the afternoon. He loves being around all those kids. But I still cannot shake the feeling that he will miss out on all the fun that a kindergarten/nursery provides.

It would be great to hear of the experiences of others with children who went to a childminder until school age.


LesbianMummy1 Mon 18-Feb-13 11:27:53

Childminders can offer the 15 hours free early education spaces. Childminders also offer the same experiences as nurseries. Speak to your childminder as she may attend groups etc where larger numbers of children attend.

Twinklestarstwinklestars Mon 18-Feb-13 11:52:10

I would look into whether the school he will go to offers funded hours, if you're going to move him then at least he'd only do it once. Otherwise some childminders can offer the 15 hours and he should get the same experiences.

OutragedFromLeeds Mon 18-Feb-13 13:29:22

Wait until he is due to start school nursery, the September after he is three. This will be free (providing it's a state school) and will provide him with a year of 'getting ready' for big school. You will also find that the majority of children in the nursery attend the school so it will be a great chance for him to make friends with the children that will go to school with him.

The childminder will probably charge for the time he is at nursery as she will be dropping off/picking up and on call in case of emergency, but as the nursery place will be free you won't be paying anymore than you do now.

HSMMaCM Mon 18-Feb-13 13:41:09

I have children right up until they start school. I have also taken children to pre schools. Their experiences when they start school do not seem to be markedly different.

Bramshott Mon 18-Feb-13 14:01:26

Does your CM drop off and collect from any local pre-schools? That would be the easiest - that he goes to somewhere near to the CM and she takes him there and collects him.

imme Mon 18-Feb-13 15:52:36

Thanks for your replies. I guess the pre-school route would be the easiest. But I suppose we are in a bit of a special situation insofar as the childminder is out of our local area since we moved house a few months ago. So the local school/nursery is not near the childminder. We were offered a place at a bi-lingual private nursery near our CM that goes from 9 to 3 and ideally the CM would pick him up from there. But it looks like we would be paying 50% on top of what we are paying for childcare at the moment to make this work, and this is just too much (London). So this is why we are thinking to stick with what we have but it just makes me wonder if DS is going to miss out (he certainly would in terms of the bi-lingual education).
From above replies it sounds to me that most people recommend to go to the local state nursery or pre-school in addition to the CM. Our CM takes the kids to playgroup once a week and I know that DS loves going there. So maybe it's enough stimulation that he is getting at the moment and the arrangement works overall. So hard, always trying to find the best possible solution!

Fightlikeagirl Mon 18-Feb-13 16:17:31

I too have had children who stay with me right up until starting school and they have had no problems with settling in at school. Most cm's attend a lot of toddler groups etc so children do get the chance to play with others and socialise. I also have others who go to nurseries, its a personal choice but if you're really happy with your cm don't feel like you have to change.

minderjinx Mon 18-Feb-13 17:11:00

I put both my children into preschool just a term before they started school and they were fine and made friends in that time. The case for getting to know children who will be going to the same school can be overstated - certainly at our local preschool many children move on during the course of their up-to-two years there due to families relocating, and others go to other primary schools for a variety of reasons. Don't think that starting as soon as your DS is three is your only option.

mamamaisie Mon 18-Feb-13 20:01:26

You mentioned sending your ds to a nursery to form early friendships. How does he get along with the other children at the childminders? Does he have friends there? Sometimes it is much easier to form a strong and lasting friendship in a small setting. My ds went to a childminder when from 9 months and then a nursery at age 3. The childminder's daughter was like a big sister to him and we have kept in touch. At age 5, ds still considers her as his best friend and they often play together at school during break times, even though they have a 3 year age gap. He made some friends at nursery, but they seemed to come and go, and he was never as close to any of them. Now I am a childminder myself, and my dd (age 2) has formed a lovely friendship with a similar aged child that I look after. They play together all the time and invent all sorts of games. It is really lovely to see friendship blossoming. smile

calmlychaotic Tue 19-Feb-13 01:01:34

I have 5 year old mindee who had been in nursery 4 days a week since he was a baby, he struggled a lot starting school is finding it hard to make friends and get used to the routine still. I know children who have gone straight from cm to school and have settled straight away. in my opinion as long as your child is getting to mix with others it doesn't make much difference. and if he is happy it seems a shame to move him. I am a cm and I probably won't bother sending my ds to preschool because think he does enough and socialises enough with me.

cangirl Tue 19-Feb-13 05:59:13

Hi, you situation sounds exactly the same as ours! We are moving to west london and have enrolled our daughter in a bi-lingual nursery and need wrap around care ( drop off at school and then pick-up, care until about 5 -5ish). I will PM you to see if we are talking about the same school!

merrymouse Tue 19-Feb-13 06:24:32

To be honest, I would say that the environment the best nurseries are trying to create is the environment in your childminder's home.

I'd be very surprised if an expert argued that a 3 year old needed to be around more than 2 or 3 other toddlers to learn how to socialise with other children.

HSMMaCM Tue 19-Feb-13 09:36:00

Agreed merrymouse

imme Tue 19-Feb-13 21:37:26

Thanks for your posts. Feeling more re-assured now. Especially today when I picked DS up from the CM he was so happy and relaxed with the other kids so I think the best is to keep him in his settled and happy environment.
The only issue is the bi-lingual upbringing that the nursery would cater for but I guess he needs to develop his English first in any case.

HSMMaCM Tue 19-Feb-13 21:59:18

I have cared for bilingual children. One parent (at least ) speaking their mother tongue has been enough for them to be fluent ... unless you are thinking of introducing a new language.

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