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Playgroup at 2.5

(27 Posts)
Enid Tue 08-Jan-02 09:22:33

My daughter, who was two in December, has just started at a nursery school for two short afternoons a week. She found her first day rather traumatic - particularly being around groups of very noisy children (she's a quiet little thing). Seperation anxiety doesnt seem to be a problem. I am beginning to think that she might actually be too young for this, although its a very relaxed place with lots of playing. Most of the other children are 2.5. My partner feels that she needs to learn to mix and that I mollycoddle her too much - I of course disagree (!) and feel that forcing her to go could cause more problems in the long run.

I really really need the break though so I was originally very keen for her to go. I feel she needs lots of one to one in a quiet environment with a few other children - do childminders take them at this age?

Would be glad of other opinions/experiences, thanks.

Marina Tue 08-Jan-02 11:52:04

Enid, try giving her a little longer to get used to the bustling environment of the nursery - if she has mainly spent her time in quieter places, maybe it will take her a while to adjust.
A registered childminder will of course take her at this age, and you may find there are immediate vacancies locally as some children in fact switch from being minded to going to nursery around the age of two.
Have a word too with the nursery staff, and see what advice they can come up with. They must be used to dealing with quiet, sedate little things as well as more boisterous children. Do they think she is overwhelmed?
My best friend's little fellow took several weeks to really settle to his playgroup activities, although he was never unhappy. Like your daughter, he is a very quiet and sensitive child, and part of the reason for enrolling him was to meet more friends. Whom he now plays with extremely happily there, and on playdates at home. You're right not to "force" a shyer type to mix, but I think you should give it a couple more weeks maybe. Good luck, anyway, and don't lose sight of the precious quiet time for you either!

Inkpen Thu 10-Jan-02 00:06:50

Enid - My dd was two in September and I tried to start her at nursery after half-term (daycare - takes kids from two). The nursery kept telling me she was OK but her behaviour at home showed otherwise - clinging more, unhappy, unsettled at nights. After a week or so, they had to call me back as she'd been howling for half an hour or more; the following day she cried for ten minutes plus and they said this was a real improvement, (didn't feel so to me when I was listening!) but the time after that she just flatly refused to go. She told me clearly she didn't want to and when I said it was time to leave the house, she lay under the table hysterically screaming for half an hour! The message was plain and I stopped there. It took a week or two and then she became her old cheery self again. I hadn't realised how sad she'd become while this had been going on.
This is not meant to be discouraging - I'm sure there are ways round it and like you, I was desperate for the break! But my feeling was that she was simply too young or not ready for this. When I try again, I'm planning to find somewhere smaller/quieter etc. and in the meantime I'm starting her with some classes to get used to the idea. Like yours, she's a quietish child who seemed overwhelmed by the other kids. She hated the playground bit too, which was obviously less structured and therefore less protected so perhaps that's something for you to discuss with the nursery staff - your dd might be more content with a specific activity to do? The difference from two to two and a half is quite a big gap, as well. Are there other children her age? Are they separated out into age ranges?
However, if she's quiet, she may just take longer to adapt to new situations even when essentially she's happy with them. It also matters how you feel the nursery staff support you - I had the 'oh you're being a fussy mother' feeling from mine which was part of my decision to withdraw her. But, from my experience, when children have a strong enough feeling for change to be necessary, they'll let you know! In retrospect, telling it here, it sounds so obvious, but it wasn't at the time! So go with your instincts and hers and good luck with your decision.

Enid Thu 10-Jan-02 10:25:26

Thanks Inkpen and Marina. We try again this afternoon so I'll let you know how it goes. I instinctively feel that she's slightly too young, and also the nursery does have a rather brusque approach to mums - this doesn't inspire me with confidence! Also the tiny, petty thing which really grates on me is that we weren't introduced to any of the staff apart from the 'head' - and the kids have to call them 'Miss X' or 'Mrs Y'. I'd find it much friendlier if they were called by their first names! Petty I know but these things do add up...or have I got a bad case of 'first-time mum syndrome'!

Alibubbles Thu 10-Jan-02 11:00:26

Enid, as a childminder I can say I would be delighted to take care of your two year old daughter!

I understand totally what you are saying, I went through the same experience with my daughter, she had no separation anxiety but just seemed overwhelmed by the sheer number of children , (only 24,) the size of the hall, children moving around constantly. She never cried but I knew that it wasn't for her or me. That's basically why I started to childmind - taking a few friends two year olds for a few afternoons or mornings to give them a break, and it became a regular committment.
I would also do activities with the children, as it is more fun with three and more worthwhile setting up the paint etc rather than one child. It is easy to give them individual attention but they also learn to share and take turns.

I have been studying the effect of "too much too soon. too early" for my degreein Early childhood studies, it is very revealing. I also explored nursery care in Switzerland when I was there, it doesn't exist as such!

Children go to playgroup, only 2/3 sessions up to 5 years of age, but it is family group ie mixed ages 0-6, day care with 8-10 chidren max. with two mothers, and a leader. (Varies fron Canton to Canton, this was Basle). They then go to kindergarten mornings only until they are 7/8 years old! The boy I used to nanny for is 8 in May and he is as school 8-12 only until September. Then he goes 8-12 and 2-4. home two hours for lunch! You get the message that children should be at home with their mothers as there is no provision for the lunchtime cover.

Do what is best for you and your daughter, I kept mine at home until they were both rising four and went to a kindergarten attached to a prep prep where they played everyday, a group of 10 children and they thrived on it.

My daughter still can remember her experience of playgroup even though she was only 2.5, but remebers kindergarten with great affection!
Good luck!

PS I tried to post this yesterday but the site was closed, but hope it helps

Twink Thu 10-Jan-02 13:12:13

Enid, I don't think you're suffering from first time mum syndrome at all ! It seems to me the nursery is very officious and I'd feel uncomfortable about those things too (although I'm a first time mum too...)

Did you look at any alternative nurseries or is there not an option round your way ?

My 2.25 year old has just started nursery for two mornings a week and our experience has been the opposite of yours. We were introduced to all the staff she would come into contact with, even the lady who cooks lunch, they are expected to use the staff's first names and I was encouraged to take dh for an introduction too. She also has a keyworker who she knows she can go to for help or a cuddle if she needs it.

Go with your instincts, you know your daughter best and if she's not settling in a few weeks either wait and try again in a while (and see if you can swap kids with a friend so you still get a bit of 'me' time) or try a childminder.

KMG Thu 10-Jan-02 18:12:43

Enid - I would definitely agree with the others here, some children are just not ready for nursery/playgroup/whatever, as early as others. See my message which started this thread off a year ago.

After my eldest's failure to settle at playgroup, I was pretty sure I wouldn't send my younger son so young, but when it came round he just seemed so ready for it, and I sent him to playgroup when he was just 2.5. He loved it, and loves it still. He has never cried, never got upset, never not wanted to go. It's different characters and temperaments. I do think you can store up problems for yourself if you persist with sending them somewhere when they are not ready.

Good luck, anyway!

Pupuce Thu 10-Jan-02 21:43:09

Enid, I would echo Twink's experience. You may want to look at an alternative nursery as both my children 2 and 5months old (she just started) are absolutely fine. My 2 YO loves it !
The staff is very friendly and approachable, they take really good care of newcomers. The cook knows my son really well (he just move to an older group and it is the cook who told his new staff that he ate 2 plates of savoury and no puds..... because she is very familiar with his eating habits!)... my point is maybe this nursery isn't right for your daughter and she might be more comfortable at a smaller one or at one where staff are more in tune with you and her.

Enid Thu 10-Jan-02 22:37:59

Unfortunately I don't have much choice of nursery living down here in the South West. Laughed yesterday when I spoke to a friend in London. She said they had so much choice that the nurseries 'courted' them. She visited one where she was introduced to the Organic Chef who was busy making biscuits for the kids snack time.

Dd hated nursery for a second time. So bad this time that I had to beg them to let her try again next week. All childminders full. I have more or less decided that she is too young and we'll wait until September. How hideous. I really dislike her nursery now as they said that 'she wasn't always crying, sometimes she was just shouting for mummy, we knew she was just being difficult as there were no actual tears. You'll really need to be strict with her in the future you know.' This about a 2 year old!

robinw Fri 11-Jan-02 06:47:39

message withdrawn

EmmaM Fri 11-Jan-02 08:43:38

Hi KMG - I looked back at the beginning of this thread. What a difference a year makes! Having had fears about ds starting nursery so early and being adamant he wasn't going to start at 2½, we actually did send him sooner rather than later.

Over the months after his second birthday, ds came out of his shell and started sticking up for himself. He started pre-school after the October half term and settled in fantastically - no tears, upsets nothing! His report at Christmas said he was a happy, confident boy who was quite chatty but concentrated on his various craft activities. He went back after Christmas looking forward to 'school' and seems to be getting on so well I'm actually looking to increase his days.

So - from being the anxious mother of a shy, reserved two year old, I've become the proud mum of a confident 2 and a half year old!

Enid, I would say if your daughter isn't happy then take her out of the nursery for six months. The difference between 2 and 2½ is huge!

Pupuce Fri 11-Jan-02 11:45:23

Enid, maybe put yourself on some waiting lists for childminders or other nurseries. She obviously disliked this nursery but she might like a childminder and if you find one you like - even if she is full - you should register your interest... September is 9 months away !

Inkpen Fri 11-Jan-02 14:59:39

Enid, that's a shockingly unhelpful response from your nursery! At two years old, surely your dd is ALLOWED to shout for her mother if she wants to! That's not being difficult. I too had the feeling my dd was angry as well as unhappy that I would leave her - but my feeling was that it was still a valid emotion. Good luck.

Enid Fri 11-Jan-02 15:45:50

robinw, yes, I do occasionally 'kid swap'. Its great, but because dd knows the mother involved so well, it doesn't seem a very good 'exercise' for getting her used to being without me.

Dd is going through a bit of a terrible two stage at the mo, very clingy and quite shy so I think the nursery came at just the wrong time! I'm going to keep her place open for April in case she's improved by then, but I really think September is more likely.

Having difficulty finding a good, recommended childminder who has any vacancies, but will persevere. Annoyingly I had accepted some freelance work assuming that dd would be out of the house for two afternoons a week - so now working evenings and weekends...sigh...

KMG Fri 11-Jan-02 18:16:02

Hi Emmam - I'm really pleased things worked out for you. It's great isn't it, being able to leave them, and not worry about them. My youngest is just like that - I know he's going to be fine, and there won't be any problems. (My eldest 4.5 is a different matter altogether ...)

Enid - Keep trying with the childminders. It maybe that someone would have a space just for a couple of hours in the middle of the day - if you're flexible about times. Hope it works out for you ...

Lindy Fri 11-Jan-02 21:14:06

Enid & others - re the point about calling the teachers/carers Miss X etc. - I (43 yrs old!) can remember when I was young we called ALL adults Miss/Mrs/Mr & it didn't seem a problem but I feel uneasy that now everyone is addressed by first names - we have quite a few 'older' (60s/70s+) friends who are extremely kind & generous to my son (10 months old!) but I feel uncomfortable about how he should address them - I know he doesn't do it himself but in thank-you letters etc. Am I being paranoid? Does it really matter? Having said that, I help at a youtclub & must admit I am not too keen on under 10s shouting 'oi Lindy' from the other side of the room!

About leaving children - I am very keen that my DS learns to be with others - he is & will be an only child - I have left him with friends & neighbours & more recently at the creche at the gym - I think it must help if you can start quite early.

Lindy Fri 11-Jan-02 21:16:11

Enid & others - re the point about calling the teachers/carers Miss X etc. - I (43 yrs old!) can remember when I was young we called ALL adults Miss/Mrs/Mr & it didn't seem a problem but I feel uneasy that now everyone is addressed by first names - we have quite a few 'older' (60s/70s+) friends who are extremely kind & generous to my son (10 months old!) but I feel uncomfortable about how he should address them - I know he doesn't do it himself but in thank-you letters etc. Am I being paranoid? Does it really matter? Having said that, I help at a youthclub & must admit I am not too keen on under 10s shouting 'oi Lindy' from the other side of the room!

About leaving children - I am very keen that my DS learns to be with others - he is & will be an only child - I have left him with friends & neighbours & more recently at the creche at the gym - I think it must help if you can start quite early.

Babynick Fri 11-Jan-02 23:20:02

Not sure if this will help or not, but when I was working in creche/nursery I often had children who did not like being separated from their mother.

I found that if the mother stayed with the child and played for a while, then once the child was occupied, the mother could sneak out... leaving the child in the care of the staff.

With young children it is vital that they get a lot of close supervision from the staff. Most nurserys will have a 'keyworker' system in place whereby your child has a dedicated adult who is often with them and to whom the child can turn to in time of need - a shoulder to cry on. Over time you child will develop a relationship with this keyworker, whereby the keyworker is a subsitute for mother/father.

Erin, you say that the place your daughter is at is relaxed and noisy. This I think is the problem, as children especially those who are on the quiet side, cannot easily settle in such an environment. By 'relaxed', do you mean that the children are doing whatever they like? If so, then I feel this is wrong as the staff should be involving the children in structured play, rather than freeplay at times where children are being dropped off. This makes for a usually quieter place, not too much running around, thus not so frightning a place for a young child entering the group.

Something else, children often fear that mummy won't come back. Therefore, do not leave your child too long when first introducing them to nursery. Start off by leaving them for say an hour... then little by little extend the time. Any good nursery will not object to this (though will usually bill you for the entire session!)

Remember, you can always pop in to nursery now and then during the session, parents shouldn't be excluded. So if the child is not settelling well, say to the staff that you will be back in an hour... leave... and come back in 1 hour exactly! Then the staff can tell your child that you will be back at a given time, and you will be back at that time to check on them. With luck, you can then incease the amount of time you away.

Alibubbles Sat 12-Jan-02 08:29:11

Sorry Babynick, but you should NEVER sneak out and leave your child, whilst it mightwork for some, some childen will be very traumatised by it. It could make it worse for some children if they suddenly look up and find mum missing.
I don't want to preach, separation axiety is a naturl part of child development and children will learn to separate when they are ready. When they are, they able to transfer that trust and affection to another person confidently and with out problems.
The reccommended route is to leave just for five minutes and then come back, so the child sees you come back very quickly, graually lengthen the time you go outside or in another room, tell the child that you are goiung to pop out to the loo or go and fetch something from the car and that you will be straight back. It works amazingly quickly, when you get to leaving the child for the first whole session, leave something of yours with her, say a glove, she will realise that you will have to come back and get it, so you will come back for her.

I had to do a 2000 word essay for my Cache Level 3 childcare course last summer and this was a subject I had to write about.

I had problems with my daughter separating from me, she would leave me without any fuss, but became withdrawn and quiet, until she was in an environment that suited her, ie the small kindergarten class. Even at 5 and 6 she would hold tightly to my hand when taken to parties, she too didn't like the noise and bustle of the children, but I had to make a firm quick goodbye -"Have a lovely time Darling, I'll be back to collect you after tea, entertainer, whatever" and GO! I knew she would enjoy it when I had gone, but it was finding that confdence herself that took the time.

Don't be in a hurry to make your child separate, they are only little for such a short time these days, no matter what age they startin education they all end up at the same educational goal post at thereabouts by 7!

Bugsy Tue 15-Jan-02 10:36:04

Enid, I've just picked up this thread after the Christmas break and I think your instincts are definitely right. My own ds (2yrs 3mths) has just started at nursery and he loves it. He started off howling like a wounded animal when I left him (and I completely agree with Allibubbles, sneaking away is a definite no no) but I used to peer through a window and I could see that almost the minute the door shuts behind me he is fine. Now he is not bothered at all and happily trots in. He is also full of chat about it when I go to pick him up. I feel confident that he enjoys it.
You know if your child is not happy, it is just so obvious. I also think that your nursery sounds a bit strange. It is not naughty for a child to want their parent, it is incredibly natural and it is the nursery's job to make them feel comfortable and reassured.
I hope you find a solution to give you an opportunity for a break.

Enid Tue 15-Jan-02 11:46:30

Dd has been really anxious and clingy since the nursery experience - I think it really traumatised her, poor lamb. She now seems to be going through a period of intense seperation anxiety, which I can completely understand. The nursery were very negative about her - even going so far as to suggest I'd have problems settling her into primary school! Err, isn't that 3 years away?? I am not blind to her faults but know that she is a bright, sensitive child with a really warm, caring side to her which they utterly failed to see or acknowledge. If I were being completely paranoid it was almost as if they just didn't like her! They were also very defensive about other children who were crying while I was there 'Oh, his mother is expecting another baby, that's why he is crying', or 'Oh, he just wants to play with the sand, as long as he can do that he's happy'. I hadn't asked for explanations!

All very odd and unlike how I had imagined her first nursery experience to be - just shows that a good Ofsted isn't everything!! I am now looking for alternatives for September.

Inkpen Tue 15-Jan-02 15:57:55

Enid - It took my dd about a fortnight to get completely back to normal, but only a few days for her to cheer up after her nursery experience. Lots of reassurance and leg-clinging sessions later, she's just fine. So with any luck it'll be the same for yours. I'm also looking to September so we'll have to confer again then and see how they each get on!

Enid Mon 11-Mar-02 15:13:13

Just a quick update on my dd - she started at a childminders last week and seems to really enjoy it! It is so much more suitable than the nursery, very homely and quite quiet and the childminder is absolutely brilliant. She spent a lot of time getting to know dd before dd went for a full session and plans lots of lovely things for her, dd and another little girl to do.

So hurrah! Time off for me and a real feeling of progress for dd! She even made me a mothers day card, joy joy.

tigermoth Tue 12-Mar-02 12:35:18

Enid, such a relief. Glad everyone is happy.

Enid Wed 02-Mar-05 14:20:14

And I feel the need to report (oh how it grates even three years later) that this supposedly wonderful nursery has just had a damning Ofsted report for its treatment of 2/3 year olds.

I'd never say I told you so. But I did.

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