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Lazy and unstimulating nursery - when to draw the line?

(34 Posts)
OutnumberedDad Sat 22-Dec-18 01:31:23

You were all so helpful to me before and I’m really hoping to pick your brains again so thank you so much in advance.

DD has just turned 3 and is showing lots of aptitude. She only attends nursery one day a week but we are looking to increase this now she is 3. However, her local nursery is a play-school which is a chaotic rabble and doesn’t offer any form of academic stimulation. At first, this was ok as our main priority was for her to stay local and make local friends but could this environment be damaging to her development as her nursery hours increase?

Between September and December we did not receive a single piece of artwork or anything produced by dd. On top of this, no effort is put in to her EYFS reports. The wording has been almost identical for all four reports in all sections.

For maths for example, according to the EYFS she has remained at the exact same level as when she first joined having just turned two. This means she is now currently assessed at being below her age. By way of context, DD is secure with size and shape, can count to and recognise numbers 1-100 (reciting or counting objects), do 1 more and 1 less and knows her number bonds to 10 (thanks Numberblocks!) Her key worker told us how all of the Auntie’s had her reciting 1-10 in 5 languages (a party trick she learnt off of Bounce Patrol!) and although dd can be stubborn, with an awareness of a ‘talent’ like this it is hard to see how they’ve spent even 1 minute over the last year ‘assessing’ her. Again, this isn’t the main reason why she is at nursery but if it is going to be the ONLY feedback we receive all term it could at least be accurate.

So, in short, we aren’t receiving any artwork and the EYFS is completed with no effort whatsoever. But...she has made friends there? Does this change things?

There is another decidedly average local nursery so we we have signed her up to a morning there on a trial basis to see if she likes it and we’ll contact her current nursery to try to get them to try a little harder as she’ll continue there in January for the other day. Will two nurseries be ok (she’s used to a variety of baby groups) or is this a stressful move?

What do we do? Please help!!

JustRichmal Sat 22-Dec-18 09:06:09

I used to send dd to a Montessori nursery. I think they did a few things like reading, counting, writing letters, etc., but the emphasis was on independence and social skills. It was a calm and nurturing environment. I do not think they followed the Montessori method to the letter, as they would bake together and have story time and play in a group in the garden for some of the time. There is a lot on line about the Montessori ethos. So you could see if there is a nursery near you if you think it is what would suit your dd.

Like you, I used to teach dd at home, so was not really looking for a nursery to teach her academic things; more social skills. I do not think it would be stressful to try different nurseries, however it would be nice to get her somewhere she likes so she can feel settled and learn to build up friendships.

treegone Sat 22-Dec-18 09:19:36

Have you talked to the nursery manager yourself about this? Ask to have a meeting with her key worker/teacher and the manager together and voice your concerns to them. They can't help unless they know. Some nurseries hold back on academic/school type stuff until 4 so it might be that. They may just concentrate on social play and other developmental areas at the moment. There may be scope for making a more individual plan with your input - if they want to keep you enough.

Lara53 Sun 23-Dec-18 21:48:46

A nursery attached to an independent school would give you a more structured environment and more ‘academic’ activities.

JimmyGrimble Sun 23-Dec-18 21:51:01

Oh FFS get over yourself. She’ll be fine.

FelixTitling Sun 23-Dec-18 21:54:51

ffs. kids this age need to play, play and then play a bit more. Leave her be.

JimmyGrimble Sun 23-Dec-18 21:56:45

more academic activities? She’s fucking 3! Just chill out and let her be.

BackforGood Sun 23-Dec-18 22:01:50

She's 3.
She doesn't need 'academic stimulation', she needs to learn through play. She should be following her interests. She should be learning to problem solve. She should be learning to socialise.

Parker231 Sun 23-Dec-18 22:05:04

Why does she need to learn anything academic? At three all needs is play and the opportunity to develop some social skills.

PerfectPeony Sun 23-Dec-18 22:05:07

I don’t think you should put so much pressure on her or the nursery and agree you should try to relax and let her enjoy it and make friends.

Let her be a 3 year old, there will be plenty of time for academics when school starts.

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Sun 23-Dec-18 22:12:58

I'm not a fan personally of a child being in more than one setting. I think that plus home life is too much.

The EYFS stuff not being updated isn't great. Definitely bring that up. That being said, I do think in general you're expecting too much. They just will not have the capacity to do much if any 1-1 stuff and the academic stuff they will be doing will be pitched below her ability as they'll be teaching numerous children at once.

I would ask things like what their ethos is, what is their approach to play, how do the children pick their activities every day (is it free flow for example?), what messy play do they have, how often are they in the outside space? How do they view the key worker relationship? The answers to these questions will show you their attitude towards developing your dd as a whole. With a decent nursery setting promoting social stuff and learning through play, plus the academic stuff she will be getting at home, she'll be doing really well.

JustRichmal Mon 24-Dec-18 09:45:26

Several posters now have said teaching academic things to pre-schoolers is wrong. I chose to do academic things with dd before she started school. This I did 1to1 and she went to nursery to socialise and develop other skills which would help once she started school.

From teaching her academic things; counting, shapes and adding, etc. before school, she is an avid reader, doing well in GCSEs and way ahead in maths.

That is what I chose for dd and I realise not everyone wants to do academic things with their child and think just letting them play all the time is the right thing to do. I realise also it is the parents' choice and should do what they think is best.

If you want to teach your dc before school then do, if you don't then don't.

user789653241 Mon 24-Dec-18 18:53:15

My ds's nursery manager had totally different attitude to some pp here, and she became ds's key worker and did 1-1 work with him everyday. She did daily reading and some maths, not really teaching but trying to figure out what he can do.

We increased attendance to 5 days a week, 6 hours a day. The academic thing was tiny part, but he did a lot of physical play and had book full of artwork.

My ds had a lots of social problems including being selective mute, so we sent him there by suggestion from manager even though we didn't need to. And we were lucky that she was so interested in developing all his interest.

If you are sending her only 1 or 2 half days a week, I wouldn't really think academics are the priority. But lack of art is a bit disappointing.

Going to two nursery, I don't think it is a problem. We have attended lots of activity suggested by the nursery, so we had occasions that he went to speech therapy on Monday afternoons for a while instead of nursery, or social sessions on Thursday mornings, etc.

NellyBarney Tue 25-Dec-18 01:15:19

A good nursery should combine lots of play with playfully teaching the academic stuff. Counting games, letter of the week, rhyming games, mark making/letter formation should all have their place, alongside music, art, learning social skills and free play. I personally had a tremendous experience with our local Montessori nursery for ds, and dd was at a nursery attached to an independent school. They both enjoyed lots of play, made friends, gained confidence, had cuddles and kisses with the nursery teachers, and, alongside of this, learned to read, write and adding/taking away between the ages of 18ms to 50ms. It made school life more fun for them, as they found the transition to reception and year one easy and got enjoyment out of reading/writing/maths rather than experiencing frustration, like some kids whose nursery had failed them and who started below expectations and were under pressure to catch up from day one. I am a school governor and the data i see show that few children catch up, despite many later interventions. The value of a good nursery education is immense. It is probably the most potent intervention anyone can make to a child's education. If OP can do at home what a good nursery should do, he obviously has nothing to worry about, but dcs whose parents are unable to teach them the building blocks of reading, writing and numeracy are, imo, losing out if they attend a below-standard nursery.

Racecardriver Tue 25-Dec-18 02:06:20

While it’s good for nursery’s to teach children academic stuff when they show an interest the primary purpose of nursery is to prepare children for school teaching them self care, social skills, classroom skills like lining up, sitting on the carpet time etc, and so on. Your nursery doesn’t sound great to be very honest. Not sending home artwork and not actually writing reports are red flags.

Goingonandonandon Tue 25-Dec-18 23:53:50

The obvious point here is that your DD is at nursery one day a week, so even if she was to make progress against the EYFS it probably wouldn't be down to what the nursery is doing, more to do with what you are doing with her at home.

Personally, I can't say that I have much time for the 'academic' side of the EYFS as such. I think children learn a lot with just normal play, making friends, etc. I have two older children and neither were 'precocious' learners but are now doing very well at school, one of them is G&T in maths and had a combined score of 119 for sats end of year 6 but he could barely talk at 3.

RCohle Wed 26-Dec-18 00:08:13

She's three and in nursery for one day a week. You need to relax.

Amaaboutthis Wed 26-Dec-18 00:21:53

Does your daughter want to do art? I received 1 piece of art from nusery ever, it was a blob of black paint. At 16 he’s on track for fantastic GCSE results but he never chose art, mainly because by year 9 he still hadn’t progressed much past stick men with huge hands and 4 fingers.

bugaboo218 Wed 26-Dec-18 00:49:22

All early years settings ( Pre School, Nursery, Nursery attached to Primary or Prep school etc) are mandated to follow The EYFS if they receive Government funding.

Young children learn and develop best when they are deeply engaged and involved in their play by being in an environment that supports this through stimulating activities. The play and learning needs to be a purposeful balance between adult led activities and child initiated play.

I think as a parent you need to sit down with The Nursery Manager and possibly your child's key worker and ask...

Is the pre school provision/learning and development areas of EYFS led by a fully qualified graduate teacher. This will be a Teacher qualified in Early Years holding Early Years Teacher Status or EY QTS. ? This can make a huge difference to the learning via play and developmental outcomes of three and four year olds.

How do the staff know your child's starting point? How do they ensure that each child makes progress and over what time frame? How and when do they track this progress? Ideally it should be every 12 weeks.

If you went into nursery and asked your child's practitioner's where they are at developmentally would they be able to tell you without reference to paperwork?

How often are the individual children observed and their next step planned for? Ongoing summative is a EYFS requirement. Ideally this should be weekly or fortnightly.

How is the three and four year old provision planned for? Plans should be based on individual children's interests and should include a mix of adult led and child led play every day.

What activities are planned to encourage critical and sustained shared thinking?

As a parent how do you feel the environment is? What is the continuous provision like?

Do they offer free flow and how is the outdoor environment planned differently to the indoor provision? Time outside needs to be planned too.

Your child does not need a 'top down ' teaching approach, but I would be asking the above questions because your post suggests that something is missing in the planning/assesment cycle, as your child appears not to have made progress since starting, which is concerning.

OutnumberedDad Wed 26-Dec-18 01:05:12

Lots of good replies here, very much appreciated.

I also don’t love or necessarily agree with the idea of the EYFS but to not be updated in three attempts says to me that;

a) her keyworker doesn’t care enough to fill out one form properly every three/four months and
b) she has not had any form of check as to what level she is at in this time

Both of these points suggest that she most likely isn’t cared for by her keyworker and that this isn’t noticed by the manager which is concerning. After Christmas I will set up a meeting to discuss this. I have been reluctant up until now as one of the downsides of being a small village is that word gets around but hopefully it’ll be constructive as this nursery is a popular option in the village and she’s made quite a few friends so ideally we’d love her to be able to stay there.

Re “academics”, I just mean stimulating games, not hot-housing phonics or numeracy. My cousin works at a nursery further away where they do the fun-based learning mentioned by NellyBarney (whose post I thought was excellent) and I know that this is relatively common elsewhere as are Montessori-type environments mentioned in this thread.

Again, this isn’t the most important element but there comes a point when the level of nurture in the environment may become the determining factor.

For those who say ‘play, play and play some more’, I totally agree, but the surroundings do need to offer support. If your child went to dance, swimming lessons or tots football, wouldn’t you rather they were being taught something rather than just running/splashing around aimlessly with their mates? Shouldn’t nursery be a similar thing? I’m not expecting reception level teaching as I wouldn’t expect elite dance, swim or football instruction. I just hope for a bit of guidance and in a nursery setting a bit of reading and maybe some Orchard Toys style games. Maybe a new keyworker could be the key to this so I’ll press this as the meeting with the manager.

As we increase her hours over the next few terms this feels like a really crucial time and I do genuinely appreciate all of this support and even the ‘negative-sounding’ posts help to put things in perspective so thanks for those too.

Please keep posting helpful advice and I’ll update again after the meeting with the nursery.

OutnumberedDad Wed 26-Dec-18 01:13:26

Bugaboo, that post is incredible. Thank you so much. I think I should print out what you’ve written and take it with me to the meeting.

I would love to pick the brains of some of the regular posters here so if any of you have any expert tips or guidance then it would all be gratefully received and feel free to PM any time.

Goingonandonandon Wed 26-Dec-18 07:35:12

I think the point is here, for me and some other posters, that The op states that the nursery (workers I assume) are lazy. However in my opinion, if her child goes there one day a week, whatever she does at nursery will have very little impact and the onus is really on what she does at home the rest of the time.

I have always wanted my children to go to pre schools that offered lots of free play, as I think that 2 years old is too young to start formal learning. I have two Dss and neither of them were ‘precocious’ learners as we wanted them to be toddlers, play in the mud, splash about, run free and learn to be independent, not sit them down to do some artwork.

It is not holding them back, it’s just an acknowledment that if good foundations are there, formal learning will be easier later.

I have two dss, now 11 and 13 and that are doing very well academically, one is G&T in maths and had a average SATs score (all exams together) of 119 (max score is 120) and CAT score of 136 which places him in the top what, 0.5%?

As for EYFS and very early learning many people don’t agree with how it is carried out. I think it’s unheathy and counterproductive to push too much formal learning on kids who start school too soon anyway.

smerlin Wed 26-Dec-18 07:55:15

@OutnumberedDad this is nothing like my daughter's childcare experience. Always lots of artwork, if you can call it that, at 2 along with baking, nature walks etc. Plus tons of free play of course. That was with a childminder. She went to a Montessori nursery from 3 which was absolutely outstanding for all the things you are looking for.

The child feeling loved, secure and settled is the most important of course so don't jeopardise that!

Zebedee88 Wed 26-Dec-18 08:10:01

It sounds like a pre school we were looking at originally, in a village hall, everything seemed to be chaotic and not very much structure or routine, just lots of free play. We ended up going to a pre school that was part of a school. Lots of free time and play but also structure and routine.

Helix1244 Thu 27-Dec-18 00:10:58

Dd nursery and then school were certainly not very accurate. I honestly think at this age it is important to have parental input too.

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