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3 year old not settling at pre-school

(13 Posts)
monkey9237 Wed 12-Oct-11 10:25:57

I wonder if anyone would be able to advise on this. My son (age 3) started Montessori nursery/pre-school in July. He attends three mornings a week and this week we have increased that to two full days (8am-5pm)and one morning (8am-1pm) a week. However, he has never really ‘settled’ at nursery three months down the line. He still cries almost every morning and says he doesn’t want to go. He says he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t give specific reasons, just that he doesn’t like going. He talks about nursery when he isn’t there, in a moderately positive way, eg describing nursery as “a bit nice” and talking about the teachers there who he chats to.

The nursery tell me that he is fine once he is there, but in the pictures that they sent me of him, he seems miserable and is never smiling. He is very shy and lacks confidence, and the nursery tell me he tends to do things on his own, he doesn’t have ‘friends’ there, and prefers to sit and watch activities rather than participate in them. They are going to focus on socialising him and getting him ‘into the group’ a bit more between now and next September when he starts Reception.

I work four days a week and I wonder if I should cut my hours and spend more time with him doing socialisation-type things. He is very clingy towards me and would rather just stay with me all the time than go anywhere, even with his dad! He hasn’t any siblings, cousins, etc his age to play with and no local friends etc.

The nursery suggest more hours with them (which is pretty expensive) and I wonder f this is really the best option, and I wonder if I should cut my working week down from 4 to 3 days and spend the time with my son outside of nursery, taking him to classes, groups, activities etc. Just having the weekend isn’t long enough to get to many activities etc.

I also pondered moving him to another pre-school/nursery but in practice we wouldn't be able to get him into another nusery locally at this point, because of waiting lists.

Writing it all down the answer seems pretty obvious – I need to spend more time with my son and take him to activities. What do you think? Grateful for any opinions!

gabid Thu 13-Oct-11 15:42:37

My DS (now 6) never liked nursery/pre-school. He went to nursery one day per week from age 3 months and to pre-school 2 mornings per week. He always was a happy, chatty boy who would talk to everyone. The nursery said he was fine when he told us that he doesn't like it and not to bring him there, he also said 'no-one is my friend', despite seeing him chatting.

In retrospect I must say he would have been better off with a childminder and 1 or 2 other children he knows well. DS doesn't like crowds and it is very evident now that he retreats and becomes insecure in larger groups. I didn't see it though as he was so lively and chatted to everyone.

Now in school, he seems insecure with other children and concentrates on one friend (who is not in his class). His teacher tells me though that he spends too much time talking to his friends???

Mybe your DS would be happier and more able to gain confidence with a nice childminder? Maybe it's all a bit overwhelming for him?

gabid Thu 13-Oct-11 16:35:13

On the other hand, DD ( just 3) started pre-school a couple of weeks ago and we were worried that she will find it difficult as she has always been with me or DP and has never been at nursery. DD seems very shy and would never speak to anyone (adult or children) until this summer. If someone said 'hello' to her she would run to me. This summer she started interacting with other children a bit more. DP and I stayed with her at pre-school for the first couple of sessions but she seems to have gained confidence quickly, never cries when we leave and appears to play with other children.

They are all different, but I believe it was good for DD to stay with us longer.

lljkk Thu 13-Oct-11 16:37:37

If he's going to school next September I strongly think it's worth persevering. He needs to be used to being away from you & getting his needs met without you. Don't change his hours again, just try to settle in with what you've got (this may take him a while).
Different if he doesn't go to school until Sep 2013.

Friend's son was a nightmare at preschool for several terms, but went to school happily after that.

MamaMaiasaura Thu 13-Oct-11 16:43:51

Personally if he isn't happy I would do several things:-

1. Stay for part of the sessions in an observatory role. I.e. If he comes to you as needs loo, direct him to his teacher.
2. Look at other options available imo 8-5 is a very long day. When they start school they often start half days and even full day isn't that long.
3. Consider what other preschools are available and chat to other parents
4. You know your child best and he doesn't sound happy where he is, trust your decisions xxx

gabid Thu 13-Oct-11 16:47:14

lljkk - They are so young, what do they gain from being miserable? Let them develop and mature in their own way. And if reception is the first time away from home, so what? If they are just 4 then that is still very young. Your friend's son may just have matured a bit when he started school. Many still cry in reception and y1.

monkey9237 Fri 14-Oct-11 14:33:57

Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply, I am so grateful. I have concluded that perhaps my DS should cut his hours down while we look for a new nursery.

Awen, they dont allow settling in periods or parents staying in the class (another concern of mine) so I wont be able to stay and see what goes on when he is there. It is most frustrating. But sometjing just doesnt feel RIGHT.

Gabid, yes I feel he is overwhelmed, its all a bit much and a long day. I also think he may be slightly bored, I dont see much apart from building blocks, colouring in and music play. No arts/crafts, seed planting, learning about animals, book-type learning etc.

The nursery doesnt give us a 'warm' vibe, in decor, pictures on walls, staff warmth, etc especially from the manager, and all they seem to want is increased hours (and increased fees!) but they arent seeming to DO much else to help DS settle.

DH and I talked last night and we are going to cut his time back, maybe even back to mornings only, and look for a new place in the meantime. I am cutting my work hours down to spend time with DS and join some local classes/groups to make some friends for him.

He starts school at age 4 next summer, and will only be 4.2 at that point, so he is still very young.

Thank you all for helping me get my thoughts straight, I really appreciate it, its so important to get it right.

Thanks again!!

MamaMaiasaura Fri 14-Oct-11 14:45:02

Monkey - glad to be of help. I have an older 3 year old son at preschool so I kind of know where u r coming from. We delayed him starting as he wasn't ready. He now settling in but only 3 mornings 9-12 and it feels right amount. The whole purpose of preschool and year r us learning thru play and getting used to and prepared for school. They aren't robots and niether should they be expected to settle in straight off. It makes alarm bells ring that they won't allow you to observe session etc. I stayed with ds for first 2/3 ( or more ) and when he started was reduced hours and we built up. We had some issues which seem to be resolving. Let us know how you get on. Also good on you for being so aware and putting him first x

monkey9237 Fri 14-Oct-11 15:06:34

Thank you Awen. However, it was only by talking to others like yourself that I was able to come to these conclusions, so I dont feel at all 'aware' - quite the opposite in fact! Glad to hear your thtee year old is settling and that you've done it the right way for your child's needs.

Three mornings sounds great and I am going to 'enjoy' annoying the nursery by cutting his hours back down. Apparently there are only a few children still there when DS gets collected, so it seems hardly any other children are attending for such long hours.

Alarm bells is right. Bad, isnt it? I was shocked at their stance. I should have perhaps listened to my instincts then on a handful of things, but i thought i was being fussy/precious so I kept quiet. But hey, its only 3 months later, I can take action now.

Thanks so much for all your help!xxx

sanam2010 Fri 14-Oct-11 21:49:54

just saw this now, your poor boy!!! hope you can find a better place for him to be happy! keep us updated how it goes! i really hope he can be happier soon.

monkey9237 Mon 17-Oct-11 21:45:05

Speedy update - by some miracle a good nursery nearby (we went to view it before and we know some previous attendees who loved it there) has immediate availability, so we are going in for a chat after half term with an aim of DS starting there mid-November.

I went to collect DS from current preschool today and they were all outside playing, but with him just sitting on a chair alone, daydreaming and not being encouraged to mix or play, and being ignored by the staff. So much for settling strategies, buddy systems and keyworkers. He was also soaked through (had an accident) and seemed he had been wet for quite some time, and he was sat out in the cold and nobody jad noticed. Awful! He will NOT be going back again after today. Losing our deposit is a small price to pay.

We told DS he wont be going back there, and that we have found a nicer place to start in a few weeks time - cue crying and saying he wants to go back to the old place and not go to a new nursery. I know this is not a choice he gets to make, its for his own benefit to leave move, but isnt it just typical!!

MamaMaiasaura Tue 18-Oct-11 22:55:18

Oh my sad actually cried at your last post. Your poor ds all by himself and wet and cold. I really hope the new place is nice xx

monkey9237 Wed 19-Oct-11 12:56:50

Ah, Awen thanks so much, I was pretty upset by it but just concentrated on getting him out of there without yelling at the staff, and I sent them an email saying he wasn't coming back again. They haven't even replied. Says it all really. I am so angry with them. We are going to see the new place after half term and I will question them in great detail about their settling-in strategies. Thanks again. x

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