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When is good to start nursery?

(141 Posts)
BabyLlamaZen Sat 12-Dec-20 18:40:40

Does anyone know when children truly benefit from nursery? I understand some children go younger than others due to childcare and they will do well, but is there an age where it actually is better for them as opposed to just as good as being at home?

I have a 1 year old and my family are nearby for when I do the odd bit of work from home. We go for walks locally and play at home a lot. He seems fine but sometimes I worry he is bored, particularly with the lack of toddler classes. When I talk to my friends who have theirs in nursery, I wonder if he is missing out. Any thoughts?

OP’s posts: |
HeelsHandbagPerfumeCoffee Sat 12-Dec-20 18:47:36

This will divide opinion. The naysayers think there’s no ideal age
Supporters will tell you at a good nursery any age is ok
Cards on table my kids all went FT nursery at 6mth and they flourished
I Frankly don’t see any point seeking opinions,as essentially it’s what works & suits you.

mynameiscalypso Sat 12-Dec-20 18:50:00

HeelsHandbagPerfumeCoffee

This will divide opinion. The naysayers think there’s no ideal age
Supporters will tell you at a good nursery any age is ok
Cards on table my kids all went FT nursery at 6mth and they flourished
I Frankly don’t see any point seeking opinions,as essentially it’s what works & suits you.


Totally agree with this. There are also things to consider like the fact that is generally easier to settle a younger child than an older child.

DS started when he was one. He loves if, I love it. Best thing for us. But it won't be the best for everyone.

triceratops12 Sat 12-Dec-20 18:53:03

You will get such a mix of opinions.

My DC went to nursery from five months and is such a sociable little thing, excellent at sharing and loves to go. Others will say they should be at home until three. It's what you feel comfortable. Personally, I think nursery does so much more for them that we can't.

Ohalrightthen Sat 12-Dec-20 19:15:15

Two schools of thought, IME:

1. Send them early, ie 9-12m, so that they're over the developmental separation anxiety but too small to really get the fact that you've left them there and gone on with your day. They don't get a huge amount of benefit from being with other kids, social-skills wise, but it does help them get accustomed to other adults, and to sharing the limelight a bit.

2. Send them late, 3yr+, when their understanding is good enough to get what it's all about. The settling period is likely to be harder as they know that you'll be going home without them (and watching Bing/playing trains/eating cake, obviously) but they get much more out of the peer-to-peer socialisation at that age and it helps prepare them for school.

Ohalrightthen Sat 12-Dec-20 19:15:50

Forgot to say, they usually settle MUCH quicker in scenario 1.

HeelsHandbagPerfumeCoffee Sat 12-Dec-20 19:19:54

They don't get a huge amount of benefit from being with other kids, social-skills wise
That’s nonsense. You’d never say that kids at home with similar age siblings get nothing out of it
At nursery The gains are social,linguistic,the social proximity and stimulation. And yes they learn to wait their turn,to socialise ,to share

mooncakes Sat 12-Dec-20 19:23:16

If you don't need it to work, then 2.5/3 years.

A good nursery won't damage an under 2 though.

user1471523870 Sat 12-Dec-20 19:23:40

Ah difficult to say as I only have one! He went to nursery when he was 9 months old (7 if you consider he was born 2 months premature) and loved it.
If I didn't have to work full time I would probably send him in at least half the time, like every morning. The main elements for me are:
- he's an only child and he's learning how to share and how to interact with other children.
- the teachers always come up with very interesting and varied activities that I didn't even know existed....
- I am grateful they do all the messy play there so I don't have to remove the sand/playdough/paint from my house
- he's now over 2 and he's learning new things from his friends, as well as from us and the teachers.
- (something that applies very specifically to our family) he's bilingual. Nursery is his chance to pick up English from mother tongue speakers.

mooncakes Sat 12-Dec-20 19:24:35

Ohalrightthen

Two schools of thought, IME:

1. Send them early, ie 9-12m, so that they're over the developmental separation anxiety but too small to really get the fact that you've left them there and gone on with your day. They don't get a huge amount of benefit from being with other kids, social-skills wise, but it does help them get accustomed to other adults, and to sharing the limelight a bit.

2. Send them late, 3yr+, when their understanding is good enough to get what it's all about. The settling period is likely to be harder as they know that you'll be going home without them (and watching Bing/playing trains/eating cake, obviously) but they get much more out of the peer-to-peer socialisation at that age and it helps prepare them for school.

9-12 months is the peak time for separation anxiety, and usually when they struggle most with starting nursery.
To avoid it you're better starting at around 6 months, 9 latest.

nomorespaghetti Sat 12-Dec-20 19:25:53

I think it depends on the child. My eldest went at 1 year old, she wasn’t ready and didn’t like it (she was actually undiagnosed with significant hearing loss at the time). But I was working, so we had to just get on with it! She did enjoy it, to an extent, eventually, and got a lot out of it, but she was going only a couple of days a week. When she went to a school-based nursery at 3.5 she REALLY flourished, it was a much better environment for her. I think she would have benefitted going later.

My son didn’t start till age 2, due to covid (would have probably gone at about 18 months if it weren’t for that). I think it would have benefited him to go earlier.

agradecida Sat 12-Dec-20 19:26:34

Mine goes at 1.5 but just a few hours on a few days a week. If we had a playroom and a garden, if I was the kind of mum who organised varied activities at home for him each day, if we lived near cousins and friends with kids who he could interact with, then I probably wouldn't send him. But we have no outdoor space, I'm pregnant and tired and not a natural with toddler entertainment and he would have seen no other children for the last 3 months if he didn't go.

He cried going in for the first few weeks, but now he walks in smiling without even looking back at me (and has a huge smile and hugs for me at pickup). He has experience of a massive range of toys, outside equipment, songs and snacks that he doesn't have at home.

I get a few hours at home to cook, clean and sort life admin out, that I always mean to get round to after bedtime but never do as I'm shattered.
So I'm happy with our decision to send him to nursery when there's no 'need' because it works really really well for us.

Just go with what you feel would be best for all of you, it doesn't matter what other do or think.

Ohalrightthen Sat 12-Dec-20 19:28:42

@mooncakes that's really interesting, i found SA peaked at 7 months, we sent DD at 9m and she didn't cry once, loved it instantly. Just goes to show!

Parker231 Sat 12-Dec-20 19:30:05

@user1471523870 - similar here. DT’s started full time nursery at six months. We’re a trilingual family and without nursery they wouldn’t have learnt English as we don’t speak it at home (live in London).

mooncakes Sat 12-Dec-20 19:33:10

Ohalrightthen

*@mooncakes* that's really interesting, i found SA peaked at 7 months, we sent DD at 9m and she didn't cry once, loved it instantly. Just goes to show!

That's less usual - most babies start experiencing separation anxiety and it gets more intense from then to about 18 months. By 2.5 years they're usually more able to cope with separation and understand you are coming back.
The majority of 3 year olds settle in to nursery quite happily.

thetinselbadge Sat 12-Dec-20 19:33:25

I send my 18 month old when I don't actually need to. After lockdown I felt he was bored and lacking stimulation at home. I was also a bit worried that he was lacking in exposure to anything outside of his immediate family. Normally this wouldn't have bothered me as I could take him out and about myself but with lockdown, I felt he would benefit from it. It's not really the socialisation with other children but more the socialisation with a different environment and different adults.

He really enjoys it and I really enjoy my quiet afternoon too.

Findahouse21 Sat 12-Dec-20 19:33:35

Dd went at her 2nd birthday and imo it was the prefect time. We had no tears as she is relatively advanced for her age and so understood that I would come back. If you are going to start now, or soon, one thing i would suggest is thinking about your child at 4 nearly 5. I didn't want to move dd and so she stayed at the same nursery throughout (very few school nurseries here anyway) but by 4 she was a bit bored. She had to keep on going through lack of options really, but it's definitely something to consider. It didn't help that hers had no separate rooms and didn't do any desk type learning at all.

mooncakes Sat 12-Dec-20 19:33:39

Start experiencing it from around 9 months that should say.

FrankButchersRevolvingBowTie Sat 12-Dec-20 19:35:44

My DC have done all sorts of nursery patterns. DS went 1 day a week from 9 months, then he either went 2 or 3 days until he started school. DD went 3 days a week from 18mo, then full time at 2.5.

We had no other options - we have no family in our area. Both kids have generally loved it - there’s been the odd morning that DD in particular has been reluctant but she enjoys it when she’s there and speaks positively about it at home.

ChalkDinosaur Sat 12-Dec-20 19:36:27

DD was 9 months when she started. It took her a long time to settle but eventually all was good. I'd say she was happy enough but would have been equally happy at home (going out to playgroups etc). From 2.5 I'd say we started to see real benefits to her being there.

Ohalrightthen Sat 12-Dec-20 19:36:51

OP ignore my post, apparently my DD is a weirdo and i didn't notice!

Just do what works for your family- that will never be the wrong call.

ivfbeenbusy Sat 12-Dec-20 19:37:04

I used full time childcare from 5 months old. (No choice due to having to work). DD has flourished too. She was significantly more confidant and articulate at an earlier age then my friends/family kids of same age who stayed home and significantly less issues with "sharing" that I could see. But as a parent you see what you want to see and working mum guilt may have led me to see all this through rose tinted glasses and in fact there was no difference?

The biggest difference was between DD when she went to pre school and kids I know who didn't attend and stayed home until they were ready to start school. DD "seems" further on in terms of reading and writing because she had a formal pre school year (attached to the local primary school) and she settled quicker than those pupils for whom it was the first time being away from their parents all day

Username7521 Sat 12-Dec-20 19:38:35

My daughter went for 6 months and loved it. It actually really knocked my self confidence that she loved it so much (when she started going after covid the first day she ran in and had to be called back to say goodbye!)

Saying that, there was another kid who stated 3 months after her that clearly hated it. Hated coming. Hated such a big group. Just really didn’t want to be there. He was not suited for nursery.

So in short, it depends on the child. You know your kid, trust your instincts

Oh and not every child fits into every nursery so it’s important to find the right fit.

Posturesorposes Sat 12-Dec-20 19:40:06

This is the broad summary of views you will get on this -

1. Keep them at home, there’s so little time they are small and I really pity the ones being left in day orphanages

2. Send them to nursery - mine went from when they were 3 days old and are bonded to me with alpha glue

3. Nursery is really good for development but only at age X.546th and only for Y.46 days a week.

For what it’s worth both mine went from 6 months: they are currently 5 years old and 10 months old. Both seem perfectly delighted when dropped off at respective childcare places and older one is in reception and wrap around clubs both ends. Who knows what their future holds but the reception kid is the jolliest bunny I know and reading at just Year 1 starter level and hasn’t yet shows. Signs of delinquency. The 10 mknth old has made her way through a covid life pretty okay and greets her key person with a massive smile and has 2 words in both her two languages (we are a bilingual biracial household).

We both work FT.spouse because he has to to pay bills. Me because bills yes but I love my career with an absolute passion.

If I had a do over would I do it differently? Not a chance.

ShinyGreenElephant Sat 12-Dec-20 19:45:37

It really depends on the child. I've just started sending my 2yo for 2.5hr sessions twice a week, mainly just because her baby classes are on and off so much and I want her to have consistent time with other kids. I would have thought just turned 2 was a bad age for it but actually shes settled straight in without a single tear or complaint. She's still breastfeeding and has never been away from me for more than 3 hrs, including with her dad, so I was very anxious, but actually she's found it so easy and just runs in shouting TRAAAA. I do think there are benefits to it at any age, but I wouldnt use any childcare before 1 unless I had to - more for my sake than theirs!

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