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Do I have to send my DD to Pre school?

(24 Posts)
Satine5 Thu 17-Jan-13 15:24:22

Hi, before I explain my situation, please note that I don't want to cause any offence to anybody who uses nurseries/preschools. I need genuine advice because I am stressing over this and would like to know other people's opinions on what I should do.

My DD is 18 months and currently home with me, but looked after by family members when I am at work part time (15 hrs a week). I keep being asked by various people (including my DH), when I am going to put DD's name down for preschool and when I am planning on her to start.
I definitely don't want her to start before she is 3, but I feel awkward thinking of having HAVE to put her in a pre school at a certain age, since over here kids start school so early.
I grew up in a country where children start compulsory education at 6 (when i was little, it was 7!) and toddlers are mostly cared for by extended families/grandparents if both parents have to be at work. I think it's mostly this huge cultural difference that stops me putting her name down/feeling comfortable about it. Also my own kindergarden experience was horrible (mum took me out of it quickly, as I was really stressed about it-mind you, it was 30 years ago in a communist country!) But I feel the pressure and worry that if she doesn't go to preschool, she may struggle at school?
i also don't understand the difference between playgroup/nursery/preschool.

Also, at 18 months she is still a frequent breastfeeder and a velcro child. I don't think I will have the guts to leave her in a preschool. But I need to put her name down somewhere or may end up not getting her a place at all.

Please talk some sense into me!!! DH (who is English) doesn't see a problem with it. Thanks for reading so far flowers

browniebear Thu 17-Jan-13 15:44:12

Hi maybe they're just asking like you say to make sure you get a place somewhere you like?
As far as I'm aware they don't HAVE to go to a pre school and only start full time education the year that they turn 5. And that's the school year (sep-sep) so your dd is a long way off yet.
The Playgroup my ds will start at in September this year allocates places on how long their name has been on the list, and I put his name down at about 3 weeks old. If you find a preschool/Playgroup you like then I'd suggest putting your dds name down ASAP, but if you want to wait till the year she starts school you don't need to worry about it yet.

browniebear Thu 17-Jan-13 15:47:28

O and I forgot to add the Playgroup/preschool usually starts the year before actual school.
Some nurseries cater for children from birth - pre school age

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Thu 17-Jan-13 15:53:44

no you dont, i havent sent mine. Although according to the lady in sainsburys my son will be behind at school because of it. Its like ive said im teaching him to kill kittens.
In reality we are out everyday, we do play groups, we do walks, adventures, zoo trips, farm trips. Art and crafts at home, plenty of reading and writing.

It apparently is a judgy thing to not do. But in reality if you dont think your child needs it then dont.

Eskino Thu 17-Jan-13 15:55:19

I'm not going to. I never went to pre-school or sent any of my older kids to pre-school. It's not compulsory. They had their first day of school just before they were 5 years old and fit in fine. Never had tears, they were ready for the adventure by that age.

MrsB74 Thu 17-Jan-13 17:35:45

My girls, currently go to playgroup (pretty much the same thing as pre-school in this area), they are 3.5 years, started term after third birthday, and absolutely love it. I put their name down quite early as this particular one is very popular. My advice would be to put your child's name down, you can always tell them you've changed your mind later. By the time they reach three they are often ready for a bit more social interaction and you get used to the morning dash without it being that important whether you make it on time. I've liked being able to be a bit more organised around the house. You also don't need to use your full allocation of 15 hours. One of my girls was very clingy, still is a bit, and I think it's helping to prepare her for school - they will start reception at just over 4! I don't think you'll be doing your child any harm by not sending them, any differences at the start of school will soon disappear.

MrsB74 Thu 17-Jan-13 17:42:43

Incidently, I cried my eyes out and they were absolutely fine. It's also lovely to hear their tales of Playgroup over lunch and seeing them gain a little independence.

secretscwirrels Thu 17-Jan-13 17:43:49

You don't have to send her to any kind of school by law until the term after his 5th birthday. Don't be pressured into it while she is a baby.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 17-Jan-13 17:54:06

I'm in Wales and DD can start at 2years 3months. She'll be in the same class as her about to be7 yr old brother. Their are two daily sessions you can use just one two hour slot or the two slots and include school lunch. You choose, subject to availability how much they go in. Shes a happy contented little girl. She is no bother at home and shows no interest in socialising so i have her name down but i think we'll probably just use one or two sessions a week to start with and see how she/ we get on.

My eldest DS went to playgroup at 2.5 then preschool at nearly four. He didn't settle well and so i reduced his days. He did one day in nursery with his brother and one with his grandparents and three mornings in preschool. This worked out much better.

DS2 went to nursery at 18months. He was really ready for mixing and a full of beans child. He thrived. He settled really well to five mornings a week at preschool when he was 3.5.

Mine are all so different, i'm sure that I haven't got it all right or all wrong for that matter.

Here playgroup is usually 2 hrs starts when they are 2.5 and carrys on until they are preschool age (term after they are three or September after their third birthday depending on school). Pre school is typically 10 hrs a week in a school or nursery setting either four 2.5 hr sessions per school week or five 2 hr sessions.

At 18 months shes only just a toddler and i can understand your reservations about starting to let go.

Are you looking at private so it will cost you to put her name down? If not whats to loose, if when the time comes you feel shes ready great, if not defer a half term/ term (typically 6 weeks/ 12 weeks).

ImNotCute Thu 17-Jan-13 19:01:39

I agree with putting her name down somewhere just to keep your options open.

If she went when she was 3 that's another 18 months ie as long again as she's been alive so far. Things can change a lot in that time and you may feel a lot happier with it. If not of course you don't have to send her. Do whatever you all feel happiest with!

LIZS Thu 17-Jan-13 19:12:37

no you don't but by the time she is eligible you may feel she is ready for a different setting and to socialise, need a break to work, take a course or relax, perhaps have another child to whom you could then give exclusive attention. All the settings you mention will follow a learning through play curriculum it is just a matter of whether they offer a sessional or full time basis , mix the two, facilities, logistics and fees.

NeverQuiteSure Thu 17-Jan-13 19:30:21

All children in England qualify for 15 hours of funded early learning the school term after their 3rd birthday. When people take about 'putting children down for preschool, it is usually these funded hours they are talking about. In these parts (Norfolk) 'Preschool' tends to mean any of the following:

1. A private nursery that takes children from birth. A little confusing, as you have some children there for childcare and some just using their 15 hours per week of funded early years education. However the 15 hours can be taken as 2 full days, or split across the week or just used in part (i.e. 2 morning sessions) so very flexible.

2. A community-run toddler group, often run in a church hall, mobile classroom in the grounds of a primary school etc. These tend to have a rolling intake (e.g. you can join in September, January or after Easter) and often take younger children too (whose places you pay for yourself, but are generally very inexpensive)

3. A nursery class run by a primary school. These are usually quite formal and your child is generally expected to do 5 x 3 hour morning (or afternoon) sessions per week. Most are in actual classrooms in the primary school and the children wear school uniform. Most only have a September intake (so if you child turns 3 in October, for example, they will have to wait until September comes around to start, unlike options 1 and 2 where they could start from the January)

All children are required by law to start schooling (which could be Home Schooling) the term after their 5th birthday, at which point, if in the state school system, they will join a Reception class in a primary school. In practice however, most children start Reception in the September of the year in which they will turn 5, regardless of when their birthday falls.

Satine5 Thu 17-Jan-13 22:34:39

Hi, Thank you all so much for different opinions and sharing your experiences. I do feel a bit calmer about it. I think I like the idea of a playgroup more, I didn't know you can choose to do just a few hours. I am still not convinced now, but I will reserve a place and then as a lot of you suggested, I will see closer to date if I change my mind.
Thanks neverQuiteSure for explaining the difference!

housesalehelp Thu 17-Jan-13 22:50:11

just to say most children love them - mine went to more playgroup type for 3 hours in the morning - also would like to point out that the first year of school in England reception - is very playbased and not formal at all - why don't you visit a few and see what you think

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 17-Jan-13 22:58:54

where we are you get a nursery place in the school your DC is going to go to aged 3-4 and then they carry on through the school with that same class. I don't think you have to do it but I will for DS2. Partly because you get 20 free hours and partly because it is the start of his school life and starting later means taking a while to settle in.

DS1 didn't get a nursery place at the school he is now at and the reception year aged 4-5 was quite difficult for him. He is catching up now but it took him a while to make new friends and settle in, while all the other kids already knew each other. And ha! to house! Our reception were grouped according to ability as soon as they started. Thank god that teacher has now retired and DS2 won't have to endure her

NeverQuiteSure Fri 18-Jan-13 11:43:23

You're welcome Satine5, although reading it back I realise I made a mistake and called option #2 toddler group, whereas it's generally referred to as playschool (or preschool of course). Oops. Hopefully you figured that out yourself!

Toddler group usually refers to the stay and play sessions that children attend with their parents. I bit of a freudian slip on my behalf, I think, because I run one.

I also should have mentioned that, if you want your DD to get used to being apart from you before starting school, but in a calmer more home-like environment you could consider using some of your 15 funded hours to place her with a childminder. Many childminders are happy to take younger children for a couple of morning or afternoon sessions between school drop off and pick up time.

Girlsville Fri 18-Jan-13 13:49:08

You don't need to send her, do what you feel comfortable with.

That said, there is a big difference between an 18 months old and a 3 year old. Dd1 is 3 and in her second term at a v informal kindergarten. At 18 months she was a Velcro child and still is a mummy's girl, but she genuinely loves going to the kindergarten for her 15 hours, asks to go every day, settled immediately and enjoys her independence. A year ago I would not have believed this possible! So don't rule it out based on what your dd is like now.

pointythings Sat 19-Jan-13 21:20:24

You don't have to send her. And I say this as the mother of 2 DDs who were in nursery from 6 months old. You have childcare arrangements that work for you, if your family are happy to continue them then why should you change? Your DD is still very little and as other posters have said, there is an enormous difference between 19 months and 3 years old.

I'd start looking at places now, but only with a view to taking up all or some of the 15 hours that are on offer when your DD turns 3, at which time she might really enjoy the adventure of preschool. And if she doesn't - take her out.

PicaK Sat 19-Jan-13 22:03:17

You don't have to send her but (depending on area) thebest ones have long waiting lists.

My DS goes to a wonderful preschool. It's both incredible professional and the most fun. It's all about learning through play (so no writing etc). He went 2 mornings a week from 2.5 and then the full 15 hours when he got the free funding. Loves it. And he was a clingy baby too.

breatheslowly Sat 19-Jan-13 22:12:45

You don't have to at all. However my DD is clingy when I am around but happily trots off when we get to nursery. She is so comfortable with the setting and the staff and it is lovely to see her relationships with the other children. You might as well put her name down and when it comes to it you can withdraw or let her have a go and see on a week-by-week basis whether it suits her.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 19-Jan-13 22:16:27

We're in England and they have a preschool that is attached to our school. The school is great but I wouldn't let the preschool care for my dog never mind my child. We used the excellent local private nursery instead. Dd went from 9 to 3pm 2 days a week from 3. She started school just after her 4th birthday. She did enjoy the nursery, and had been a frequent bfer but weaned just before she started. If the local nursery hadn't been so, so good I would have been more than happy to keep her at home. I do work part time, but upto nursery she had been cared for by DGps too.

fuckwittery Sat 19-Jan-13 22:22:12

Dd2 isn't going to start til she's 3 and 4 months doing 3 hrs a day. You don't have to do anything until the term after they turn 5 but about 2 is the right time to put your name down if you want a place when she's 3, so probably why people are asking. Pre schools will take 2 yr olds but I definitely found both my girls were not ready until after they turned 3 - so your dd would be twice her current age - don't fret, just see if it suits you your dd and your family at the time but if you think you might want a space then think about waiting lists - cost me a tenner to register for waiting list where we are.

Satine5 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:08:52

Thank you again to everyone that replied, I really, really appreciate it. As a lot of you pointed out, it's difficult to imagine she is not going to be clinging onto me forever, but I hope she will be more confident once she turns 3.
I have decided to visit a few preschools now with a view of possibly starting with DD when she turn 3, but not if she finds it difficult.
I suppose that my DH's worry is that she is from late Aug so will be one of the youngest in her class once she starts school. I think DH wants to make sure she comfortable socially, hence the preschool idea.

tumbletumble Mon 21-Jan-13 17:59:32

The terminology is a bit different in every area which is why it is so confusing. Here we have playgroup from age 2.6 and nursery from the Sept before school (or Jan if your birthday is in the second half of the school year). Many people put their DC in playgroup for 2 or 3 mornings a week initially, then they might increase to 4 or 5 (or stick at 2 or 3 - that's fine too) when it becomes funded at age 3. Nursery is 5 mornings a week so that is less flexible.

As others have said, most children enjoy it and I believe it does prepare them socially for school. Your DD doesn't have to go though - it's entirely up to you and DH.

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