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Choosing between pre-school and full-time nursery

(11 Posts)
AzureSelfaMerryLittleChristmas Thu 02-Dec-04 15:38:08

DS has been at full-time nursery since he was a baby - he's now 3.3. He's in the pre-school class, but we're concerned that teaching side (letters, numbers) is a little erratic. The nursery is also a bus-ride away. He's just been offered a place in a private pre-school nursery within walking distance from home from the January term. This is obviously school hours and term-time only, meaning we will have to have a nanny/childminder as DH and I work full-time. We have to decide whether to move him to the new school. This is a bit of a long pre-amble to asking what do you think the main differences between the different sorts of nurseries? Will a pre-school be more "grown-up" and less cuddly, i.e. he still has an afternoon nap at the moment (although is starting to drop this)? What are the factors we should consider in making the decision? Any thoughts appreciated. BTW he is on the waiting list for the school, and there are no guarantees that he will be able to enter reception there in September.

MariNativityPlay Thu 02-Dec-04 16:08:09

We will be facing exactly this dilemma when dd turns three, Azure. Deep breath - I'd sooner she didn't any formal learning before four, so we will probably stick with the less "academically impressive" but more fun-looking day nursery pre-school class. Also - will your ds have to wear a pre-school uniform? Plenty of time for that later.
BUT walking distance is very good compared to a bus ride, no doubt about it.

elliott Thu 02-Dec-04 16:45:11

We also have the same dilemma, but a bit different in that our pre-school will be the nursery attached to the state primary school ds1 will be going to. The alternative is to continue at the preschool unit at his day nursery. For me the arguments stack up like this:
School nursery: pro: properly trained teacher, will get to know his peers who he'll be with in reception, cheaper (probably), would otherwise be in same preschool unit in day nursery for 2 years (he's a Nov birthday and has just joined it). Con: bigger overall group (40 with one teacher and 2 assistants; ratio at day nursery is 1:8); don't think the meals are as good as at his nursery; SCHOOL HOURS (there is 'wraparound' care but I don't want him in clubs all the time at that age and really don't want to have to deal with school holidays before I have to!).
tbh I don't think there's that much to choose activity wise between them - they follow the same early years goals anyway and I am reasonably impressed with the day nursery's approach - structured but not formal at all - the decision for us will hinge more on practicalities - we also have a ds2 who will need to move nurseries if I move ds1. I don't think I'll move him to school unless I can find a childminder to do the holidays, and at the moment there aren't any available locally.
Sorry just realilsed that long ramble probably of no relevance to you at all....

AzureSelfaMerryLittleChristmas Thu 02-Dec-04 17:00:35

Thanks for your input. MariNativityPlay I've also favoured a more informal environment in the past. Elliott - you've given some good pros and cons. DS is a late August birthday, so will probably be the youngest in his class - I'm torn between wanting him to have the best start academically to make up for his age, and thinking "but he's only a baby"!. The thought of coping with school holidays makes me shudder. On the other hand, I've been feeling very bad recently about the long hours DS spends at nursery (8.30 - 5.45ish) and wonder if having a nanny / childminder for some of the day would be better for him. I also hope to reduce my hours at work, but have been too wimpish to ask my boss so far. The school / nanny option is likely to be even more expensive than the nursery he's at at the moment. Hmmm, what to do.

lavender2 Thu 02-Dec-04 17:23:38

AzureSelfaMerryLittleChristmas...I don't have much advice on this one..

both ds and dd spent a little time at a nursery for a few months when we moved house ..it was structured, there were quite a lot of children there, rooms for babies to play/sleep, bigger room for older children to play in...they enjoyed it I think....for all of their time before school they went to pre-school much more...dd for 2 years and ds for about a year (as he started school at 4) and you know I do think the pre-school was more personal and they sat and had a biscuit and story at about 11 each day...the nursery was more structured...in terms of cuddles do yuo want a cuddley environment then personally think a playschool is more personal as less formal and they just play and play and they prepare them for school in a fun way and they learn lots but have fun...ours loved pre-school and wouldn't consider a nursery myself as thought the preschool was better...but that's only my opinion...hope you reach the right decision soon

ladymuck Thu 02-Dec-04 17:41:28

Ds1 spends 4 mornings at pre-school and 1 day at a nursery. Without a doubt he prefers the pre-school, though that said I'm not sure that the "academic" standards are any different - they both follow the Foundation stage syllabus. At this moment in time we're not so concerned about his academic progress.


A lot of it comes down to your child's personality - ds1 much prefers time at home and whilst he loves his time at pre-school he is also ready to come home and chill out at lunchtime. I think that that can be the difficulty with day-long nursery: although they try to organise quiet times during the day, some of the children will be that bit older and more active and it is harder to find the chill-out time.

One plus of moving to pre-school is that it does give you a headstart on looking for the right childminder/nanny etc.

foxinsocks Thu 02-Dec-04 17:48:55

Azure, my only thought on this is that it may be quite good for him to get used to a little bit of formalised learning before he starts prep school. Most of these pre-schools still place most of the emphasis on play anyway so I doubt it will be too much of a culture shock. Personally, both of my kids (and I too have an August born child)REALLY benefitted from having a little more structure in their play (which is all it is really!). I think you'll probably know whether he'll like this sort of thing. If you get a childminder/nanny, he can still have his sleep on the way home or at home. My dd slept every afternoon after pre-school (on the way home so only for around 20mins) for the first 6 months till she finally dropped her nap.

I don't know which prep schools you're looking at, but I'm still in contact with my old NCT group round there and I know some of the boys got a bit of a shock when they started prep school because it was so much more academic and formalised that they thought it would be! Having said that, none of the children seem incredibly unhappy so I'm sure they all eventually adjust.

Gobbledigoose Thu 02-Dec-04 17:56:38

Haven't time to read the other posts so sorry if I repeat anything.

It's a personal thing but I don't worry too much about whether ds can do letters and numbers at this stage (he's 3yrs 8months) - he is in fact learning them but I wouldn't be worried if he wasn't iyswim. I think childhood is for enjoying and playing and they get enough pressure to learn once at school (and then still too much imo) PLUS they learn so much without you even trying to teach them. They are like little sponges and absorb everything aren't they - you don't need to sit them down in a formal lesson to do it, particularly at this age. That's just my personal opinion though.

If he is not guaranteed a place at this particular reception, I'd be inclined to leave him where he is or else you run the risk of making a big change for him in Jan, then again in September. That could be very unsettling for him and may have bigger consequences than entering reception and not being as up to speed on letters and numbers as you think he should be.

I really would leave him where he is - he's happy (presumably), it suits you with your work hours and I really believe he is not suffering educationally. I really do not think nursery education is critical to a successful school career.

Again that's just my opinion and I don't mean to offend anyone who feels differently.

DoesntChristmasDragOn Thu 02-Dec-04 18:43:58

DS2 does both - 2 full days at private nursery, 3 mornings at the state nursery class of his primary school.

SantaFio2 Thu 02-Dec-04 18:54:18

round here we only have the choice of playschool or private nursery. there are no nurseries attched to schools and no state nurseries. Ds will be goes to nursery 2 sessions atm but after christmas he will go 4 sessions. The nursery is quite informal (but I do like it as they are very loving) but they do lesson time etc, far cry from school though. I found it quite weird as dd had state nursery/more structured private nursery but doesnt mean to say it is a ny better i suppose

bfb Mon 03-Jan-05 15:09:27

Hello all, I'm new to numsnet so apologies if my question is perhaps too specific but I would appreciate any advice or guidance you could give me
I live in Teddington, Middlesex and have a 20mth old son. I am starting to realise that if I want to get ben into a nursery/school etc then I need to start looking around applying in the near future-please don't tell me if you think I've left it way too late, the guilt may kill me.
Is there anyone out there who lives in this area, can you give me any advice on what are considered to be "good" nursery schools?-we're particulary interested in nusery schools with attached infant/primary schools-be they state or independent.

I'd really appreciate any feedback you can give.
A big hello to everybody, and thanks in advance.

D

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