Able 3 year old: Preschool 3 days a week or stay at home?

(22 Posts)
Ihavepixies Fri 28-Aug-20 03:17:29

I'm not sure whether to send my dd to preschool or not. She is 3.5 and will start reception next september. My eldest was august born and really benefited from preschool but my youngest is totally different. I am self employed and it will cost beyond the 15 free hours when I could put this money towards other important things. Is pre school worth the cost? The preschool has limited space and only has a september intake. It is attached to a school we are considering for her to attend and all the other preschools which are state run are either full or didn't impress, but then I wasn't really happy with the assumption of this one that she was some kind of academic blank slate either, though I assume that is generally the approach everywhere i.e "wow you can count to 5..." when they didn't ask her to count any higher so how could she express her knowledge outside of their expectations for her? In which case how can they tailor their education to her if they never really test what she is capable of? Frankly I think they should care what she is able to do now as if a child WANTS to learn then let it learn! Especially if they want her in there for 3 full days! Some children really do mature sooner and get bored of playing with playdoh all day...especially autumn born girls. This preschool requires a minimum of 3 full days which seems a lot of fun mummy and child 1 on 1 time to miss out on, especially if pre school isn't actually more than just childcare I don't really need and I still need to stretch her at home but in less time. I'm not sure the benefits are huge and worry preschool might even be detrimental in her case. I feel fortunate that I have been able to configure my life around the children rather than working out of the house 5 days a week and want to make the most of that too.
She had a stay and play, she enjoyed it, but she said she would rather stay at home, I'm sure she would be happy enough either way though. She has classes she attends and forest school etc now but I would probably like to broaden her circle of friends. I would also like some time to myself to focus on work just not 3 full days, that only leaves two inflexible days together!
I'm am worried about her making friends as she usually only seeks out older children to play with but she will be one of the oldest. I worry that developmentally and interpersonally she might backslide out of boredom and from conformism and discouragement at preschool as it is less academically focused and differentiated than reception with no mingling of the two classes. I'm worried she will not be stimulated and might end up amongst peers that are (mostly) not yet at her developmental level, although hopefully there will be one or two in the class that are also ahead?
Dd has taught herself by see and do to write phonetically, she sounds put the words and then writes down the letters she hears, but some words she knows from sight and spells correctly (and forms letters and numbers to 100 mostly correctly from watching her older siblings), has known the alphabet for over a year, including capitals, and their phonetic associations (though she does sometimes get b and d confused lol). She can write her name (and sound it out verbally), knows colours, shapes, the days of the week, she can tell the hours on the clock, she can count to 100, could count 20 sheep randomly placed in a field. She can do simple addition and subtraction in her head. She creates models that clearly represent the objects and concepts she claims and draws 3d scenes and things that a detailed and recognisable i.e tractors, people, etc. She is, in a completley unjudgemental 3 year old way, aware that quite a few others her age can't do this yet which could lead to self consciousness or deliberately trying to fit in at preschool, when she should have a skies the limit approach to learning, not a herd mentality.
She asked me if she needed to pack a pencil case for school...she seems to think she is going to be actually learning like her older siblings. Frankly she would be ready for reception this year as she looks, talks and acts like an older child. I'm not rushing that of course as I value the flexibility of not being in a rigid school environment, although in scotland where I grew up it was normal to go up or down a year and take highers and go to university a year early and not considered detrimental or strange like it is in england. As for soft skills she is already well mannered and has great concentration etc, I can take her anywhere and know she'll (mostly) be well behaved. She communicates very well, is very articulate for her age etc, her motor skills are excellent both fine and gross, she can climb like a monkey, so the soft skills are already there. She has siblings so learns a lot from interacting with them, especially conflict resolution!
At home we can have days out when we want and go outside in all weathers (do they generally get enough vitamin d in the summer at preschool, they aren't always inside or smothered in sun cream at all times so they don't get their 20 minutes a day?) and play what she wants and learn academically at her individual level without having to conform to the class average or eyfs expectations. I'm not a conformist myself, I found school a bit boring and stiffling and consequently I now hugely value individuality and creativity alongside classical academic rigour and achievement, and may yet decide on flexi schooling from reception, I don't want her wedged into a mould starting at age 3.5 as I did see some of that with my older children and chose a free school for them.
As it is optional and is a record that goes with her both mentally and on paper, I'm not keen on hearing in her nursery reports that 'she can count to 10' or her saying 'I can't do x because I'm too little', this is the start of low aspirations education imo, even would be standard stuff for my other children at that age. I'd be tempted to pull her out and still have to pay a terms fees! It is such an expensive gamble.
There are no other preschools near that tick all the boxes of quality provision and two days a week so either we move (drastic and a bit late for that!) send her, or keep her home until she attends reception which means she misses out completley on the one thing preschool can give her which is greater independance from me a couple of days a week. I do regret not moving sooner somewhere with more suitable school and preschool choice. This preschool does guarantee us a place in this particular school. Stay or go or move?

OP’s posts: |
HeyBlaby Fri 28-Aug-20 03:57:08

She's three. Relax.

becca3210 Fri 28-Aug-20 07:03:30

I'm a primary school teacher. It's great your little girl is doing so well but you do seem to be overly worrying about her education at such a young age. You don't give the impression you want to send her to preschool so don't! You do say you would like her to have more friends so why not keep her with you but work on this? Do you have friends with kids she can play with? Are there any local groups you can join or just take her to the park and let her have some fun with others. You don't need to be worried about her mixing with others who are 'less able'. She would still benefit from the interaction and it may broaden her horizons! Remember she is three and should be playing, having fun, getting messy, enjoying the outdoors etc. Lots of time left for the formal learning

idontfeelwelltoday Fri 28-Aug-20 07:20:12

I could read before 3 and at 4 I could calculate what day of the week was any date from 1900 onwards. I stayed with grandma during the day instead of going to preschool, with her crosswords magazines.
In my country the January borns (cutoff was Dec) were made to wait unless doing a special route requested by parents, and then an exam to access the equivalent of year 1. I did so and kept attending the whole primary in a classroom adapted living room of a retired teacher with other 4 to 7 children.

Guess what? I'm now an academic in the U.K. but don't know how to socialise nor what to do with playdoh.
Trust me, socialising and mixing up with different people is as much as a skill as maths, probably even more.

minnieok Fri 28-Aug-20 07:51:28

Mine went 15 hours a week (hours a day). Eldest could read chapter books when she started, youngest wouldn't still still enough time to write her own name (same approach different kids, youngest got best a levels!)

Try not to worry but some preschool is good for socialising

SylvanianFrenemies Fri 28-Aug-20 07:56:25

Your daughter sounds lovely, and very bright.

Preschool is good for socialising and getting into a routine. Non academic skills and experiences are important too.

CoffeeandKitKat Fri 28-Aug-20 08:10:09

You're really over thinking this. Most children will enjoy preschool and get a lot of out it whether that's academics, social skills etc but if you don't want to send her then don't. Worrying about vitamin d exposure while at preschool a few hours a week is bonkers.

Worrying about your daughter being affected by children not as bright as her is at best rude and at worst offensive to those with special needs. She needs to mix with a variety of adults and children.

I also don't think you need to move house for a preschool, there no baring on where you live for this. As long as she's safe and happy.

Bupkis Fri 28-Aug-20 08:52:04

I work at a preschool, and would say a good preschool gives your child an opportunity to play, learn a different routine and how to navigate a different environment, stretch their abilities and interests in different and sometimes unexpected ways, have fun, mix and communicate with children of all abilities and backgrounds, think creatively, work with different adults, challenge themselves, learn via all the above and a million more ways.

A good preschool shouldn't work on the basis that a child can only develop and learn in a particular developmental window (e.g.- *I can't do x because I'm too little*)...we do look at areas of learning and development, because sometimes it highlights where a child is struggling and will help garner support moving forward, and sometimes it is a way of monitoring that a child needs a different sort of stretching and input moving forward. They do not govern what we do with a child, the individual child is at the heart of everything.

Children can be very different in a preschool environment to a home environment, and it is really important that preschool work with you as a family, and it sounds as though you are starting from a point of not thinking they can offer your child much. I know that the children I work with are all there for different reasons for their family - some it is because the family want their child to make a few friends and have some preschool time before starting reception...and that is fine! Whatever reason the child is there, I hope it is a beneficial and positive experience for everyone!

I feel quite sad reading this
I'm worried she will not be stimulated and might end up amongst peers that are (mostly) not yet at her developmental level...
one of the greatest things about preschool and school is the fact that a child will be with children of all abilities and backgrounds, and will have the opportunity to make friends based on all sorts of unexpected connections.

I started working at my preschool because my ds had been so welcome there - he has complex needs, including learning disabilities. Throughout preschool he was in nappies, completely non verbal and very nervous around other children. The preschool all practiced Makaton and used it with all the children, they supported him in making friends. I now work with a mix of children in my very inclusive preschool, some with very complex needs - it is a wonderful

Children learn so much more from each other whether they are developmentally at different stages, speak different languages, have different life experiences...this is the richness of life.

It sounds as though maybe you feel your child needs to be in a more exclusive environment because she is very able, and that is entirely your right, but I think it does children a disservice to think they cannot learn and have fun and enjoy friendship with children outside of their developmental older girls are academically able and watching them learn from their younger brother, is a bloody joy!

Good luck to you and your little girl with whatever you choose to do.

Ihavepixies Fri 28-Aug-20 11:13:43

Hello, thanks for your comments. To clarify, I'm not worried about her being in with less able children I am more worried that as one of the oldest abd also fairly able she might not have any equivalent peers to bounce ideas off of, so actually she will have a lack of experiences and diversity in that sense if she is only playing with children developmentally and chronologically younger than herself 3 days a week. I think if it was two rather than 3 days I would feel happier as I could valabce it out with other activities but 3 days means no longer being able to go to forest school etc (which has a huge age range, lots of home educated children) due to time table clashes and there really are no nurseries inside of a 25 minute drive that don't offer fixed days and hours or aren't full. Fairly rural here.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Mon 31-Aug-20 23:51:47

Superb post from @Bupkis

You have put what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently than I could have.

At 3, there are much more important skills to be learning than reading, writing and maths.

AlexanderHalexander Wed 02-Sep-20 19:32:24

Didn’t read the full thread as it was endless, but hyperlexia (an early and precocious ability to read) is very strongly associated (almost 100%) with autism. It’s much more common in girls.

So yes, I’d put her into nursery, as I suspect she is going to need help with socialising and coping, which is what preschool and nursery is good for.

sqirrelfriends Wed 02-Sep-20 19:44:01

@AlexanderHalexander there may be a link to autism but it's not guaranteed to be the case. I could read at 2.5 and I'm fine and completely unremarkable as an adult.

Your post comes across as a bit nasty if I'm honest.

OverTheRainbow88 Wed 02-Sep-20 19:58:50

I would send her, she needs to play with our children her own age. If I were you, I would take a step back, relax and let her be a 3 year old.

OverTheRainbow88 Wed 02-Sep-20 19:59:35

Also why does the suggestion of autism appear in every MN thread?!!!

Nixen Wed 02-Sep-20 20:11:02

She’ll have a better chance of widening her circle of friends as she gets older if you stop being such a wanker about things like this...!
For what it’s worth, my daughter is also ‘ahead’ according to her nursery but i’m happy to just let her be a child. We play games that teach. The rest will come without hot housing her.

AlexanderHalexander Wed 02-Sep-20 20:29:58

@sqirrelfriends I was flipping between AIBU and other posts, so sorry if my tone was off.

Autism is commonly missed in girls, and teaching yourself to read before the age of 3 is unusual, in the same way doing long multiplications in your head before 3 is unusual, and is usually as sign of neurodivergence, despite parents taking it as a sign of great intelligence.

The reason children don’t move school years in the UK is that it is very damaging to be so socially different from to us peers. Imagine moving up 2 school years and then finding no one wants to snog you at the disco, and you are unable to make friends because of your immaturity.

Success at university level requires very high level functioning and coping skills. It seems silly to be obsessed with helping a child ‘develop’ things they find easy, e.g reading, if they can’t wipe their own bum or make friends.

I can think of children I have worked with who were very bright, but started school refusing due to being bullied and never took their a levels, ended up recluses basically. Obviously OP is talking about a 3 year old, but surely it’s far more important that the child is happy, kind and makes friends easily, and can cope with a full nursery day, than how high she can count up to?

Success as an adult is so heavily influenced by work ethic and personality/resilience.

SMaCM Thu 03-Sep-20 14:17:10

The pre school will soon learn what she is able to do and adapt activities appropriately for her. She doesn't have to go, but there are things to be learned by going.

simonisnotme Fri 04-Sep-20 18:32:21

How will she cope at school if you dont want her with kids
developmentally and chronologically younger than her unless your going to go into private edd .
At 3 they need other kids to just 'play' with
school is a mix of kids and she may not even be the 'brightest' that you think she is

AlexanderHalexander Fri 04-Sep-20 18:52:55

Also, weirdly OP has another thread where he ays her youngest DD is already in Prep school in July ??

MoreCookiesPlease Sat 05-Sep-20 15:13:19


KimchiLaLa Sat 16-Jan-21 22:59:20


Also why does the suggestion of autism appear in every MN thread?!!!

MN is obsessed with autism. Every child having an off day - some parent will say, "have you had him assessed?"

crazychemist Sat 23-Jan-21 14:53:14

She sounds quite similar to how my Dd was a year ago. Fwiw, my Dd has really enjoyed preschool (well, except for the fact that it’s currently closed for COVID). She did 3 days a week when she was 3, and now would be doing 4 days a week now she’s 4.

I don’t view it as education in terms of reading, maths etc. If I want to do that with her at home I can, or frankly it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t continue to progress at her current rate. I view her days at preschool as social education - she is learning how to do as she is told (when appropriate), how to deal with conflict/bullying behaviour (hasn’t happened yet, but I assume she’ll come across it at some point).... all very important things that she can’t learn as easily at home or with me.

I’m a secondary school teacher at a selective school. I’ve seen plenty of super-coached, highly intelligent children. The ones that are happy (and therefore continue to do well through the stressful teenage years) are the ones that have good “soft” skills - variety seems key to encouraging this, so 3 days in a preschool setting and 4 days with family sounds pretty good to me. Remember that most opportunities as an adult don’t involve reading/maths assessments, they DO involve interviews. Social skills are crucial.

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