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Being kept back in nursery for a year

(65 Posts)
pepsi Wed 05-May-04 12:36:24

Can anyone help me, my little boy is 4 and is at a private nursery, he is due to go up to reception in september when he will be four and half. His nursery doubt he will be able to cope as he doesnt hold a pencil properly and doesnt join in answering questions or in talks about what they did at the weekend end, he is very insular at nursery and is happy to play by himself, thus most children dont involve him in play now. When he was alsmot three he had grommets put in, before then he suffered terribly with ear infections and sickness and his speech was below average, since the grommets his speech has improved greatly and he doesnt get sick anymore. Apparently he was 50% below normal hearing up until then.

At home he is different, he talks all the time, asking Why to everything which he doesnt do at nursery, he plays with other children, initiating it himself, he has a sister who is two who is very advanced for her age. He is the most lovely little boy, sleeps well as is very loving and likeable, everyone we know loves him.

At nursery he has seen a special needs teacher and they have their concerns, dyspraxia has been metnioned but nothing certain, we are waiting for an appointment to see a specialist to check this out further, but Im not convinced, he loves being read to at home, can pedal a bike and is a wiz at making wooden train tracks and enjoys cooking and is good at climbing and playing in the park.

This week the nursery suggested he stay in nursery for another year to increase his confidence, whilst I can see the logic in this I have my reservations as it would mean he would be five and half before he started reception. Has anyone got a child who has been kept back a year who could advise me on the pros and cons of this. At home he can count to 10, recognise his numbers (after a lot of effort) and is now recognising his letters and sounds, mainly t, a, s, e, m, n, but is really getting there, at nursery he doesnt display his talents. I think he is really bright, its breaking my heart so any help from anyone would really be appreciated. Im wondering if a private nursery is just too much for him and he would be better off in a good state primary, but Im worried about changing schools and getting it wrong, he likes smaller groups and works better in them so a big class probably wount help.

Soapbox Wed 05-May-04 12:46:32

I would say that you should push for him to move up with all the other children in his year. If he needs to be kept back a year then better to do it next year or the year after where he will be in a proper learning environment rather than stuck in nursery. Children make big changes at this age in a small space of time - you should not let what are really motor skill issues prevent his intellectual development.

The things that they are looking for at this very young age are often not related to intelligence but to the emotional and physical development of the child.

TBH I wouldn;t llok to move him - especially to a state school. If there are bigger issues once you have determined whether dyspraxia (or anything else) is an issue then you may have to consider moving him if another school looks like a better option (we have an excellent private school near us which deals with dyspraxic and dyslexic children - most of whom all return back into the mainstream schools after a few years there).

I think your child is way too young to be labelled - make sure that he isn't!

SoupDragon Wed 05-May-04 12:48:15

My gut feeling is that he's not thriving in the nursery environment (compared to home for example) so another year there isn't going to benefit him. Is this a nursery calss attached to a private school and you intend him to continue through the school or have I misunderstood?

In DS1s receptions class, they work in small groups not as a whole class. Although there are 30 children around, there are only ever 4 or 5 doing any one activity at a time.

Soapbox Wed 05-May-04 12:48:33

Sorry - that sounded like I was being snotty about state schools. What I should have said was especially to a state school if you think the larger class sizes will hold him bakc even further!

LIZS Wed 05-May-04 13:06:28

He could develop a lot in 4 months. He sounds ready for school to me and in Reception they would sort out things like pencil grip, fine motor skills and do group activities. By the sounds of it he has outgrown what that nursery has to offer and another year there could cause greater problems if he is not challenged. He *has* to start school by the term after he is 5 or have alternative educational provision in place, and am not sure if the nursery would count (LEA could advise). If you held him back a year, based upon his age, he would go straight into Year One unless you had a statement to the contrary or the school was very flexible. That is potentially an even bigger leap academically and the children would have already formed groups which might make his integration more difficult if he is not a naturally social child.

Are private schools an option as you might find a more flexible approach (perhaps starting him part time or later during the year) and often smaller class sizes and/or high staffing ratios, although you might be lucky enough to find a local state primary offering this too.

Have you applied to a school for September yet? If so perhaps it is worth asking their advice. Good luck,

pepsi Wed 05-May-04 13:52:56

Just reading everyones comments and taking them in. DS is in a private nursery in private school, although its mainly a girls school but they take boys until they are 7, at which time our plan was to put him into state education in the hope that he had caught up from not being able to hear properly for such a long time.Its concerns me that if he is kept back a year it will be harder for him to integrate into a new school with his correct age group, or is it the case that once you are kept back its kept this way until you leave secondary, I only found about it all of this yesterday so its all new and am just doing my homework on the subect now. Trying to get him to write/draw anything is hard work, he just wants to scribble over the same bit on the paper.....although he calls scribble thunder or railway lines or steam so he is using his imagination. My worry about him going to reception with no confidence is that he will see all the other children doing well and feel that he just isnt as good as them. My head hurts with all the thinking, last night I broke down several times. Why cant life be simple!

LIZS Wed 05-May-04 14:25:15

Ah, that is a slightly different issue. I *think* if he is kept back now it would probably go all the way through if he were to stay in the private system but transferring may still be an issue.

ds who is 6 still doesn't really draw well. He also has some motor skill problems. Using things like shaped stencils has helped as he can draw a better approximation to what is in his head. We are only at the beginning of helping him and I have my suspicions about dyspraxia too but noone is prepared to label him.

It sounds as if your ds needs further assessment before the school can realistically put forward a plan of action for him. In you position I would not be happy with their proposal until then. Is there an option to move him at say Christmas, or for him to spend time in each classroom while he progresses and then review ? I think it is a shame that they have waited until now to raise this as an issue and it puts you under unnecessary pressure as presumably they would like to offer the place elsewhere.

Jimjams Wed 05-May-04 15:12:35

Hmmm well if there is a problem I disagree about not labelling him. Earlier the better to be honest. Although it sounds in this case that it is far from certain that there is a problem other than he doesn't like the nursery environment.

School wanted to keep my son back a year to redo reception (state school)- but the LEA won't allow it (I had no problem with it in his case). Instead he is "officially" moving into year 1 in September but will have "access" to the foundation curriculum- so will spend a lot of time in reception.

Agree with spoupy about class sizes. State classes may be big- but the children are divided into groups. In my son's class the workgroups are of 5 children so they don't work as a group of 30 (except to listen to a story or something).

Also if there is a problem of some sort- the state system is often much better at dealing with it that the private (not always- but it doesn't sound as if your school have covered themselves in glory so far!)

pepsi Wed 05-May-04 15:25:50

Thanks to everyone for responding, its really helping. DS's nursery have expressed concerns about him since he started last September when he was three and a half, he has already been put on a special education plan with three simple goals every 6 weeks which was suggested by a lady who visits all schools in the area, presumably from the local education authority. They have constantly asked us to send him for more days, currently we send him for two and half days, but the rest of the boys in his class are full time which doesnt help on the bonding issue, but as a stay at home Mum I dont want my children to be at nursery this young, I think its important to be with me. If he is able to go to reception in September it will be full time....9.00 to 3.15. I think the nursery has been good and are very careful not to upset me and I really do believe they have his best interests at heart, its just a it of a bombshell, its not like they have been saying if he doesnt improve we may have to consider him staying back or anything. Probably because they didnt want to alarm me. Ask him anything about Thomas the Tank Engine and you've got his attention and knows everything, try and get him to sit down and copy a letter or something and he is trys to avoid it. He has a terrific memory though, can remember who bought him every present, very good on direction, good with colours and loads of other stuff, just not pencil control and joining in with other children in the nursery environment. Is this a good reason to hold him back or should I risk his confidence and send him up, it is ultimately our decision! Tommorrow I am going to sit in on a reception class, as the nursery's suggestion so I can see what its like, they are nearing the end of the year so they will be quite a bit more advanced than when they started.

miggy Wed 05-May-04 15:26:50

Do you think that having had a hearing problem, he may find nursery a bit too loud and overwhelming now? If thats the case he would probably be much happier in a quieter more structured situation like reception. Just a thought.

pepsi Wed 05-May-04 15:31:16

Yes reception may be quieter, but I sat in on a morning session at his nursery last week and although very busy and structured it wasnt noisy, I noticed that he did as he was told, certainly not one of the naughty ones, but that the other children didnt really involve him, they didnt bother to talk him really and likewise but he seemed happy and carried on with what he was doing and wasnt distracted by me being there, my little girl goes for one day a week in the room next door so I made my visit on that day and told him and the other children that I was waiting in their room just to make sure she was ok next door. Either this week or next week I plan to sit in on the afternoon as this is whey they just play so then I can see a bit more interaction.

secur Wed 05-May-04 15:37:07

Message withdrawn

Jimjams Wed 05-May-04 15:54:30

pepsi- I think that maybe a proper assessment is in order from someone like an ed psych (although generally I think they are crap- probably the most appropriate in this case). this will give a much better idea of whether he needs to be held back or not.

I'm not against holding children back- providing they will benefit. If he has dyspraxia then he doesn't need to be held back- appropriate help could be given in reception. If he does have something like dyspraxia then holding him back will make no difference- he wouldn't just catch up (as he would have a disorder rather than a delay)- he would need intervention wherever he was. Generally it seems structured intervention is easier to incorporate into school rather than nursery ime.

pepsi Wed 05-May-04 16:06:38

Hopefully a date to see the specialist will come through soon, he has his annual check on his hearing this month and will see the consultant and the speech therapist too. What effect do you think it will have on him if he sees all the other children coping and feels anxious in himself that he isnt?

coppertop Wed 05-May-04 16:22:55

Hi Pepsi. From reading your posts I don't think staying at nursery for an extra year will help your ds. The reasons the nursery have given sound a bit weak to me. My ds1 is nearly 4 and is also due to start school in September. He can't hold a pencil properly at all. He kind of grips the top of the pencil with his fingertips IYSWIM. He doesn't really join in with talking about things he's done or answering questions either. He will sometimes play alongside other children but prefers his own company.

The Head and the teachers at his new school already know all about him. They are using the time between now and September to find ways of making starting school easier for him. He may even be allowed to spend a few mornings there before September to get used to it all.

I think it would be more useful for the nursery to focus on ways of helping your ds to make the transition to school rather than just holding him back. A formal assessment would help to find out what (if anything) the problem is and what can be done to help.

SoupDragon Wed 05-May-04 16:29:38

Can you get him to do writing or whatever if you link it to Thomas the Tank Engine (colour a pic of Thomas and get him to write Thomas underneath)? DS2 (3) likes to draw over the letters when I've written then in dots IYSWIM.

From what I remember, a lot of children in DS1s reception class couldn't write their names properly at the start - they have their attempts on display which is how I know!) and whilst DS1 could do this, his pencil control/grip has improved no end. Out of interest, have you tried your DS with triangular pencils?

I really don't think that holding him back a year will improve his confidence at all. He may well not notice other children "coping" but he will certainly notice them moving to reception without him.

WRT bonding, DS1 knew none of the children in his reception class when he started but 9 months later has a circle of good friends. Your DS will be spending full days with his classmates which will help him to make friends. It must be difficult for him when the others are there all day, every day. In the reception situation, a good teacher should make sure that the children are mixing well and that no one feels left out. DS1's class has a "friend of the week" thing where they are assigned a new friend each week to work with. This does seem to help them get to know each other.

waffle waffle...

pepsi Wed 05-May-04 16:33:24

Its interesting that most of the feedback is saying not to hold him back. Anyone got any good reasons why he would benefit from being held back or indeed no a child that has been and what happened. I really must stop coming upstairs to check for messages...........its nearly tea time. Another thing the nursery mention is that he has no interest in jigsaws and the like.....but at home although they are not his favourite thing he will do them, we have worked hard to build his confidence and at home he is confident. As a background, DS is our first child, we have a very stable family with grandparents, cousins, etc, and no family stresses or problems. I gave up work to have our children, they have a good social life, friends, get taken to lots of nice places, plenty of fresh air, fed well....although Ds is not a good eater, read to a lot, esp bedtime story and do lots of play dough and imaginative play at home. Although I am feeling a complete and utter failure right now, I do also think what more could we have done?

LIZS Wed 05-May-04 16:33:59


In some respects our ds is in that position but with the right support it has become less of an issue. He is really positive because he can see the improvements and is relieved to be getting some individual help, but then he is also 2 years older than your ds. Although he is one of the better readers in his class (by his school standards not UK!) his teacher flagged up that he had not developed in some areas as well as she would have expected given the assessments she made at the beginning of the academic year - especially in writing, maths and concentration. It did come as a shock but we were, admittedly, extremely fortunate to have a quick assessment and he is already undergoing Occupational Therapy which he loves, in school time. I'm going in to observe a session next week and discuss his progress. In the classroom he is now getting more specific support and guidance from his teacher, although I'm still undecided as to whether he would benefit more from one-to-one during certain activities such as writing but the school did not want to overload him at this stage.

I don't know whether any of this is relevant to your situation or what would be available to support your ds at his current school, but I agree with Jimjams in that I would not have wanted our ds to be held back without there being an obvious benefit to him in doing so.

LIZS Wed 05-May-04 16:45:37


Our posts crossed and I've just read that last line of yours which struck such a cord with me - 2 months ago I felt the same that I'd let him down somewhere a long the line. We have made a lifestyle change during his short life and I know that did not help him. But you can't change it and if they have a disorder then it is better picked up earlier than later. I now look back and see some earlier warning signs (there are even some recorded in the MN archives) but noone really put these together until very recently. Getting an assessment helped me feel more positive but I'm sure this is only the beginning of a rollercoaster ride. Visiting the classrooms and talking to the teachers is a good starting point.

Good luck and I do hope the school can be supportive.

Davros Wed 05-May-04 16:59:20

I know many children who have stayed back or started in a year lower than what would be correct chronologically. However, these are children with clear special needs and being in a class at a younger developmental stage has been very good for them. This, however, doesn't sound appropriate for your DS but it does sound like he's having problems in the school setting as he functions so well at home. Personally I wouldn't take the word of the school staff and would want much more expert and thoroughh assessment. Can you speak to someone at your LEA or chlid development centre via your GP?
I'm afraid that the comment about labelling is an old fashioned way of thinking and I find a little offensive. Any child that has needs won't be different or worse because those needs are given a name, quite the opposite in fact. It is extremely rare, unknown in my experience, for children to get "labels" without good reason.

lemonice Wed 05-May-04 17:06:55

I caught a discussion item of news today about parents facing a problem later on when the child is kept back in that the LEA won't fund their extra final year at school ie in these cases the child had to move from year 6 to year 8 later as not allowed to take gcse s a year later than chronological age. The item referred to Barnet where appatrently there are 500 children in the system who have been held back and will have to swap back to their real year. Sorry trying to type this quickly before leaving.

SoupDragon Wed 05-May-04 17:35:50

Pepsi, it sounds as though your son has no problems at home and that these "difficulties" the nursey see only happen there or are at least worse there. It does not seem to be you who are failing him at all.

Jimjams Wed 05-May-04 17:48:08

No you're not a failure. Ds1's first nursery tried to tell me it was my fault that he wasn't talking (age 2). Well he's 5 now and still not talking- so I think its safe to say its nothing I've done!

Bin the guilt it's not worth it. You sound like you have done an awful lot. Your son may have somehting like dyspraxia- which is fine once recognised (a lot easier than if its unrecognised anyway)- or he may just not be that keen on this nursery - please don't beat yourself up over it.

LIZS Wed 05-May-04 17:53:36

Sorry if it is my comment which caused you offence. Clumsy use of language.

Kittypickle Wed 05-May-04 18:19:17

Pepsi, I think it's natural to feel that you've failed in some way when things like this happen, but I'm sure it's nothing to do with you - you seem to have done loads with him. Jimjams is right, put any guilt behind you. I think his behaviour at nursery is might well go back to when he had his hearing problems - the world must be difficult when you can't hear properly and then a bit scary when everything becomes loud again, very unfamiliar. The fact that he's so different at home could be because it's a secure place for him where he can relax and be himself.

My DD has had problems over the last year or so which started during her last couple of terms at nursery when her ears became blocked after a very long and heavy cold. She withdrew, didn't play much with the other children, wouldn't answer questions etc and had no interest in sitting down and learning letters etc. The nursery didn't push her with this but concentrated on getting her mixing with the other children, which they did very successfully.When she started reception she was waiting for a SALT assessment as her speech is unclear. She hardly knew any letters, couldn't hold a pencil properly and was a long way off writing her name. Once she got to reception I had a talk with her teacher as I felt she had dyspraxia. The school referred her and she has been assessed and it turns out her joints are hypermobile & she has low muscle tone, which was why she is having problems with her motor skills (she's having physio & OT) Her teacher is brilliant and she is a totally different child at school than she was at nursery and has made huge progress.

What I'm trying to say in a long winded way is that I also can't see how it will benefit him from staying behind. A good reception teacher should be able to gradually build up his confidence, help him with his pencil grip etc and there should be other support for him if he needs it. Good luck

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