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Nursery or pre-school? Some info for a confused first-timer

(15 Posts)
Marnie74 Fri 08-Jul-11 14:54:42

This may sound ridiculous but I'm utterly confuddled as where to send my DS. He is 2 and a half and we're just about to move to a new area. I haven't worked since I was pregnant so he has been with me (and only me, plus parents/in-laws for a couple of hours) all this time.
I am very aware that some sort of care by someone else is absolutely essential for his development but also for my sanity. He is quite a controlling little rascal (sometimes won't let me leave the room, always insists I play with him...) and he has found it difficult to socialise. Getting better all the time though, thankfully.
But the question is where do I start? Some friends have advised that a pre-school would be good for him (obviously when he reaches 2.9 mnths) as they tend to be smaller more relaxed environments. Other have said that day nurseries provide more structure and are more flexible.
I guess I'm after a bit of advice about where I start really? I can easily obtain a list of possible places from Ofsted but how do I go about sorting them? I will happily visit the ones I'm interested in of course but I need a way of whittling them down to a manageable number. What is the difference between the options generally?

princesbold Fri 08-Jul-11 15:40:06

There is no difference between the two, some pre schools may have more children than some day care nurseries, they both have to comply with the same ofsted guidelines.

Marnie74 Fri 08-Jul-11 17:54:50

Oh. Thanks for the reply. I feel like a bit of a tit tbh. I shall tell all those people who "advised" me to choose one over the other that they are fuckwits.

Tillyscoutsmum Fri 08-Jul-11 18:02:01

As far as I'm aware (and I'm not expert !), "Pre-School" is just the name of the school year immediately preceeding the reception primary year.

I think the main difference is whether they are private run Nurseries or charity/LEA run playgroups.

FWIW, I am in a similar situation to you (SAHM and DD had not been in anyone else's care) and I chose a charity run playgroup. She (and in fact the playschool) just does morning sessions - no full days. That enabled her to get some experience of that sort of setting whilst we could still do our own thing each afternoon. She started with 2 mornings at 2.5, then went up to 3 mornings and then 5 mornings in the pre-school year.

Jojay Fri 08-Jul-11 18:09:41

It would be worth having a think about which primary school you'd like him to go to, as they often have preschools attached, and getting him into the right one, would mean he'd make friends now who he'd be with all through school.

EldonAve Fri 08-Jul-11 18:16:03

preschool is usually for 2y+ term time only and sessional so a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon

nursery is usually open 8-6 or longer for working parents from 3m+

blowninonabreeze Fri 08-Jul-11 18:23:13

I am a SAHM.
DD1 went to a nursery (privately run profit making business) for 2 mornings a week from about 18 months. (plus the preschool attached to her school for the summer term prior to her starting reception just for 1 morning a week)

DD2 (now 3) does 1 day a week at the same privately run nursery but also attends the preschool attached to DD1s school 2 mornings a week.

Some differences in my experience.
1. Nursery runs all year round (apart from a week at Christmas)
2. Nursery much much more expensive (£42 per day, playgroup in the region of £7 per session (halfday))
3. Starting and finishing times of preschool much more rigid
4. Nursery have different rooms with similar aged children so DD2 is with children all within about 7 months of her age/development wise. Preschool has all the children aged from 2.5 until they start school all mixed together in the same room. (although I'm pretty sure that this varies from location to location)

All worth considering. For us a mix of the 2 works. The private nursery we use is EXCELLENT, and the day that DD spends there is a "woods day" where they spend the whole day out in their camp in the woods, with a tipi and camp fire etc. She adores it and the extra cost is currently something we're prepared to pay. preschool is smaller and much quieter and DD enjoys it just as much, so a good option for us for the other days.

Have a look around some options and see what will work for you. Assuming your DS is 3 before Christmas, he'll recieve funding for some sessions starting from January next year, so take that into consideration when making your decisions. (although funding is term time only)

nbee84 Fri 08-Jul-11 18:24:03

People call pre school, playgroup and nursery different things.

Playgroup is usually a morning or afternoon session from the age of around 2.9 until they go to pre school/nursery. Some may call this pre school.

Pre school is a morning or afternoon session for the year before 'big' school. They are very often attached to school. Some call this nursery - usually the school themselves would talk about the attached nursery.

Nursery is usually childcare that is provided all day - ie 8am-6pm. Some would call this a day nursery to distinguish between this and a school nursery.

So, you can see the confusion - you are definitely not a tit grin

princesbold Sun 10-Jul-11 19:42:19

There are two types of nurseries/preschools, sessional care which can be any number of sessions per day normally one or possibly two, care may not be given between the sessions, and full day care, all nurseries accepting the nursery education grant charge the same amount.

OddBoots Sun 10-Jul-11 19:47:11

No two nurseries and no two pre-schools are the same - just visit those located nearby and get a feel for them (and find out about their waiting lists, some will probably be full).

SardineQueen Sun 10-Jul-11 20:00:43

I think the terminology probably depends on where you live.

Around here a nursery would refer to a setting that took children from quite young (3 or 6 months) and had longer hours, to accomodate cover for a working day (usually open 8 til 6).

A preschool has a shorter day and won't take younger babies/toddlers although around here there is very little state provision so most preschools are also private. My DD attends a private place billed as a preschool, it's open 9 til 4 (which I understand is quite long hours for a preschool) and takes them from age 2.

Whatever way you do it you will get your funded hours from age 3 towards the cost of whatever you are doing.

Anyway. My advice would be to have a look at the ones in your area and get recommendations. You are looking for happy children and caring carers grin which is kind of obvious. Rather than anything else, IMO anyway. Read the OFSTED reports as well.

In your position and in our area I would say that a preschool is what you want.

Fifis25StottieCakes Sun 10-Jul-11 20:07:22

Hi, with my eldest 2 i went to the baby group from newborns and stayed with them. At 2.9 they went up to the preschool for 5 mornings untill they started school.

DD3- i have been going to the sure start and church baby groups when i have the time. She starts private nursery in September going in for 2.5days. I am hoping she settles as she is not used to being left.

Mollymax Sun 10-Jul-11 20:16:23

I agree with the looking at the schools you might like him to go to.
Many of them do have a pre school upon their grounds although not necessarily part of the school.
At the moment you get funding from the term after the child turns 3 for 15 hours a week.
My dd3 started the pre school attached to her school last september, she did two terms there and is now doing one term at the nursery attached to the school before she starts school in September.

newlark Sun 10-Jul-11 20:38:24

my dd does a couple of mornings at a day nursery and one morning and 2 afternoons at a pre-school. She adores pre-school and hates going to nursery (I only kept her there as I needed ds there at the same time so I can do a bit of part time work from home and ds isn't old enough for pre-school until Sept).

I think what she likes about pre-school is: the larger number of children her age (her nursery is a similar overall size but spread over a wider age range), the shorter sessions (she says she misses me) and the greater time spent on more age-appropriate activities (more of the free play time at nursery is spent in the main room with all children except the small babies - only a relatively short time in separate age groups with just the 3-4 y olds). I think there is more faffing around/waiting time at meals at nursery (they have breakfast and lunch at nursery) because of the age range so I think she gets bored - at pre-school they just have a snack. I suspect the biggest problem with nursery is that she is the only girl in her age group at nursery and isn't that keen on boys (that will change grin).

I know other children are very happy at this nursery and ds is fine with it so I think it does depend on the child and what suits them. In our case nursery is a 5 hr session and pre-school is a 3 hr session which feels like better value in terms of funding as I get 5 sessions instead of 3 within my 15 hrs. I live quite close so I can actually do useful things in the 3 hrs. I will miss the childcare in the holidays though when ds moves to pre-school as I like the fact that nursery is 52 weeks per year.

Marnie74 Thu 14-Jul-11 19:31:18

marvellous, thanks everyone for the good advice. I have appointments next week to visit 2 pre-schools near us (just managed to squeeze them in before they break for the summer) and I'll check out a couple of nurseries as well in a couple of weeks. I guess a lot of it will be how they "feel" and whether they're right for my ds. Just can't wait to get him in tbh, before i go stark raving mad <gurns>

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