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Preschool advice for 3 year old.(24 Posts)
Hi, this is my first mumsnet question so be kind! My son has just turned 3 and has just started preschool 4 days per week (up from 1 day per week since June) he loves learning, he knows all his letters, numbers to 100, simple addition, shapes and colours in English and Spanish, 2s 5s and 10 times table and is recently reading.
My concern is that (baring in mind he's attended for months) one of the staff came up to me very excited because he had recognised the letter 'm' for mummy in a catalogue. It's like they don't know him and what he can do at all. So I arranged a meeting with the manager so I could get an idea of what he does and she says they don't encourage learning letters, writing their name or numbers above 10 as 'that's reception level,' she also essentially said he should do extra work etc at home either (it's ALL he wants to do at home, I have to force him to watch tv or play so I get a break!)
Don't get me wrong I know there's more to preschool than academics but I'm slightly concerned what he's going to DO for the next year and a half before school if he's already learnt everything they teach.
Are all preschools like this or would I be better off looking for one that nurtures his abilities?
I know our school says that it can be easier when the children start reception not knowing how to read or write because then they can teach them from scratch, for instance they like them to read and write using pre cursive letters. If your child learns above and beyond then what will they learn in reception?
Preschool is about learning to exist peaceably with other people of your own age. It's about sharing, making friends, learning to play and negotiate, learning to wait your turn, listen to instructions as part of a group, and share attention. It's about doing some things you choose and some things chosen by other people. It's about learning to trust and interact with other adults rather than just your parents and close family.
Unless your son is equally as advanced at all those skills, he won't be wasting his time even if he never learns a single letter while he's there. In fact in my experience the children who have speed ahead at "academics" are often categorisers and can find skills around negotiation and compromise particularly challenging.
Fwiw I have 2 sons who were very advanced at this age. One is autistic and now clinging on at sixth form having passed just 5 GCSEs. The other is "quirky" but managing socially ok. His IQ is in the top 0.5 percent.
Develop his social skills, these are as important as academics
A three year old knows times tables and numbers to 100? I work with children that age and I have never encountered anything like that before. I am genuinely astonished.
Agree with the others. Ds2 was very ahead at this age, and like a pp said, he actually needed to focus more on his soft skills. At home we did loads of broader extension instead - we'd go to the science museum and then map out together how a jet engine worked and make our own rockets, or learn plant names and go on hunts for them etc, Even so, he's had a trickier start to school than his bright but more typical big brother, as unfortunately our current state system, with large classes including many students with additional challenges and not enough support mean that there's not always enough extension available for children already familiar with the curriculum. If preschool pushed him hard now, he's much more likely to be bored by year 1...
He'll play in the home corner, in the sand pit, paint and do other crafts and pretend he's one of the PJ masks or Paw Patrol with his friends.
They'll teach him to sit quietly when the teacher is talking, to wait until everyone has lunch before he eats, how to line up nicely etc.
It's great that he knows so much and you can support that at home. Preschool isn't school. It's preparing for school in many ways, not just academia.
Hi all, thanks for the replies, seems it is the norm for preschools. I'm aware the social aspect of preschool is more important than academic, it's why we wanted him to go 4 days, although we have no concerns in that respect as he's used to sharing toys, time and attention with his brother and is very confident, he's always made friends easily. I'm more concerned he'll get bored if he's not being challenged.
My DC1 was like this, OP. He did go to a little nursery school for a couple of mornings a week at that age - but although they acknowledged his 'academic' ability and gave him plenty to do, they were more concerned to work on the things he found more challenging (most notably getting on with other children, learning to separate himself from me a bit, taking group instruction, etc, etc). This is what I wanted them to do, as well. In fact, it was the whole point of him going there. Does your DS need to be there for four whole days per week? If he does, he'll still be learning - only it will be other important things that he's learning. You can still encourage his reading/counting/'academic' intelligence at home.
I wouldn't worry about Reception, either. My DC1 was miles ahead of children several years older when he started school, and remained so throughout his school career. The school found plenty for him to do do academically - just gave him work in line with his abilities. However, he never found the social/cooperative/separation side of things easy - so, again, I asked the school to work on this. A good school will realise what a child needs and will act accordingly.
@poldarkssecretlover Times tables and counting aren't 'intelligence' as such. They are more a test of recall. A child with that particular type of photographic brain will have no trouble counting/reciting. They don't necessarily understand what it is they're doing, though...
Just realised my op said should work on at home, she actually said he's shouldn't be doing any extra! But like I said it's what he enjoys so I don't want to stop him. I work 4 days a week so he does have to go somewhere, just wondering if moving would make a difference or are all the same? He has some lovely little friends at school though so I know he's happy, I guess I was more bothered by the fact the staff don't know his level at all. Never had this issue with firstborn as he was virtually non verbal at 3 so preschool was pitched just right.
I would say that all preschools are not all the same. In the same way that not all schools are the same. If you aren't happy, you can move your DS. For all the importance of socialising, sharing, etc, etc, I wouldn't have wanted my DC1 in a setting which didn't at least recognise that he was particularly able in other ways, and found ways to keep him interested and engaged. The same little pre-school was fabulous with my other DC, too, who are all very different.
The nursery should be following the EYFS framework. You said the head of the nursery said “they don't encourage learning letters, writing their name or numbers above 10 as 'that's reception level,'” It would be a good idea to take a look at the EYFS framework – you should be able to find it online. It’s been a while since I looked at it (my DD is in Y3 now) but I’m sure they are allowed to assess a child as ahead of their age category.
In my DD’s private nursery they had ‘letter of the week’ in the preschool rooms, and the fun activities would allow for a bit of differentiation. They wouldn’t teach things like correct letter formation as ‘standard’, but they were flexible to the needs and interests of specific children.
I was lucky because once my DD’s head of preschool noticed DD was reading nursery rhymes to her friends (she was a bit older by this stage: nearly 4), she offered to do a little bit extra with her as time allowed. They both enjoyed this (the lady had recently done a degree in early years development and was very keen!) but eventually she got to the stage where she said it’d be inappropriate to take DD any further, academically.
It’s a shame that your DD’s nursery seems so reluctant to encourage the more academically advanced children, but if your DD is happy there, I wouldn’t be worried unless they actively discouraged such interests, and made negative comments to your DD. She’s going to do well at school anyway.
If you are worried about your DD being bored at school, it’s worth trying to channel her enthusiasm for learning in different directions, so she doesn’t get too far ahead and find school boring. Learning an instrument, or sport, or computer coding, or a foreign language, perhaps?
Apologies - your son, not your daughter
I’d be more worried they don’t know your child very well if that’s your perception.
All nurseries aren’t the same regarding their approach to academics. I know our deputy head has done special work with my DD and one other child who is advanced
Maybe look into a Montessori and see if you like that approach more?
I agree with Montessori. I do think it's an ideal environment for advanced children.(Though I have no experience, they had no empty space when my ds was that age, but looking at Montessori toys, I've got that impression.)
Some place will do extra, my ds's nursery did. The manager became his own key worker and did 1-1 work with him daily. But I wouldn't really worry at this age, they will progress anyway if they are interested, and none academic side is more important at this age anyway.
We aren't at nursery/reception stage yet but your son sounds amazing to be on times tables already. Please don't stop doing the extra at home! He sounds like he has a brilliant brain and it should be nutured.
From a teacher point of view they will always try and challenge him and he will still come across many new things in school to keep him entertained. Perhaps focus his learning at home away from the traditional academics to not get him too far ahead at school but keep expanding his mind - visit museums, let him discover his interests, keep going with the Spanish and other languages. You are clearly doing a great job!
Re: "they don't encourage learning letters, writing their name or numbers above 10 as 'that's reception level'"
DS1 started pre-school already reading. His teacher's response was to bring in her daughters' children's encyclopaedia for him, have him narrate the class play, and arrange for him to attend a Y1 guided reading group in the attached primary. That was an effective, appropriate response.
DS2 also started (a different) pre-school already reading. We asked for him to be given access to reception level work and/or be allowed to work with the reception kids. This was refused by the reception teacher. His key worker said she didn't know what to do with him. We had to send him in with books to read as they had no suitable books in the classroom. We removed him at the first opportunity.
I suspect the main difference was that in the first school the teacher was foreign and had only been teaching in the UK for one year. Hence she had not been fully
brainwashed instructed in British methods of holding children back education.
A choice between academic skills and soft/social skills is a false dichotomy - any good pre-school should aim to develop both in tandem.
Bright children create their own challenges in their play, so I really wouldn't worry about him learning numbers and letters.
The pre-school should be focusing on developing his learning skills and dispositions rather than tests of memory like times tables. Is he resilient, can he plan his own activity and adjust his plan when faced with difficulties, can he think critically, weigh up options, make links between his different experiences. Will he persevere, ignore distractions, notice details.
I would ask yourself if the environment is challenging, can he explore, build, climb, create, can he choose to be outside? Are the staff able to encourage problem solving and thinking skills?
These things are all a million times more important in educating a 3 year old than whether he knows letters and numbers.
I agree with Smoggle, bright children doesn't need to be encouraged to learn letters or numbers. They do it anyway. Stimulating environment is more important, for them to explore.
I would be concerned that after attending the setting for months this is a complete surprise to them, it shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of your DS. I wouldn’t be concerned about the lack of academic focus as there are other parts of the EYFS and other skills to develop at pre-school.
I agree that preschools don't tend to and shouldn't really push reading and maths because they will get loads of that once they start school. I would be a little concerned that they hadn't realised he knew letters etc. A preschool should be covering some of that.
For contrast, my three year old started in January and we just had the first parents evening. The teacher was aware that she could identify, sound out and blend a lot of letters.
My DS was the same when he started nursery. They don't teach the children to read, write or count but they give them the opportunity to do so (book corner, environmental print, pens, pencils, paint etc, lots of small things to count and sort etc).
DS reads books (of his choosing) to his teacher and goes to the school library for more, plays with numicon and a calculator. He has just started to write at home and I mentioned it at a recent parent's night and they hadn't seen it at nursery yet but said they'd look out for it.