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Should I start him at pre-school earlier than 3 years?

(23 Posts)
chelseamorning Fri 18-Jul-08 14:03:29


I have put my DS down for pre-school, starting in September 2009, when he will be just 2 months shy of his third birthday.

I'm a SAHM and DS's only carer. He's never been to nursery. My parents live a few hours away but look after him for the odd hour occasionally. We visit friends with children his own age but at 21 months, they don't really play together. We go out every day and attend two toddler group sessions most weeks. However, as is common with us paranoid mothers, I'm a little concerned that he'll have problems mixing.

I have his name down for a village creche starting in September which can be for either 1, 2 or 3 mornings a week. He's a sensitive, thoughful and loving little boy and I want to help him get used to spending time away from me, in preparation for pre-school.

Chatting to a friend of mine today, she feels he'll be fairly 'old' when he starts pre-school and that he may have problems mixing. She's suggesting putting him in pre-school earlier.

Any views or experiences of such things?


CarGirl Fri 18-Jul-08 14:05:07

He will not be going to school until he is nearly 5 so he will be having 2 full years at pre-school that is plenty IMO.

Hangingbellyofbabylon Fri 18-Jul-08 14:05:13

my dd didn't start pre-school until a month after her 3rd birthday and was absolutely fine - in fact she was old enough to deal with it all much better. All children are different and you know your ds better than anyone else.

prettycupcake Fri 18-Jul-08 14:05:52

I would say if by September 09 he will have already had 1 year at the local creche socialising your friend is mistaken.

Trust your instincts. Sounds like a great plan to have a year of going to the creche then a year at p-reschool before he goes to the school system.

chelseamorning Fri 18-Jul-08 14:23:17

Thanks, ladies.

My instinct is to wean him into it gently. We spend a lot of time together and so he can be a bit clingy at times. Not that I'm complaining! He's adorable and I know the hugs won't last! grin

A lot of his friends are attending nursery and so are used to mixing with others. They seem to be more advanced socially – but I'm not sure if that's nature or nurture.

MrsTiddles Fri 18-Jul-08 20:01:35

I think it sounds like you've got the set up ideally suited to your own child. I have a nearly 2 yr old who I have been worrying about as I have nursery 3 afternoons from when he's 3 yrs but don't want to deprive him socially

but then I see other boys his age who are shoving and pushing and being quite aggressive (which he is not) and know that if he were surrounded with that for several days a week it would probably rub off on him or distress him immensely and I'm glad that he has toddler groups we can dip in and out of instead.

MrsTiddles Fri 18-Jul-08 20:03:08

sorry I meant that the other boys his age are currently attending a lot of nursery sessions where this is going on.

sarah293 Fri 18-Jul-08 20:09:00

Message withdrawn

chankins Fri 18-Jul-08 20:14:57

I didn't send my dds until they were funded, the term after their third birthday. This meant dd1 had two years in nursery as she is a september baby, and dd2 has only had one year at nursery, and starts school this september. IMO this was fine, one year is more than enough preparation for school, as long as you are out and about and socialsing yourselves anyway. And I agree with settling them in slowly and sgently. Mine were shy clingy girls to start with, so it was two short mornings for a while, and gradually built up before school. This worked well and they both loved their time there.

Olihan Fri 18-Jul-08 20:39:51

I'm also a SAHM, none of my dcs have ever been to nursery and none of them have/will have started preschool until their funding starts.

DS1 went to preschool for the first time at 3 and 5 days, having rarely been looked after by anyone except me, and adored it. Right from his first day I was told how sociable he was, how well he played with other children and what a lovely child he was.

Dd is starting preschool in September when she will be 3 and 10 days and is really looking forward to it. She's shyer and less gregarious than ds1 but she's sociable and enjoys being with other children at our toddler group.

IME, parents of children who go to nursery almost always think children of SAHMs will have problems socialising. It really isn't the case though. Most of it is dependent on the child's personality and if you have a naturally shy child, pushing them into being away from you before they need to be won't make any difference. He's got 2 years to learn to 'socialise' once he starts preschool. and most just 2yos don't mix well, regardless of whether they've been to nursery. It's not in 2yos natures to share and play with other children. Parallel play is much more normal, even up to 3.6yo or older.

Go with what you feel would be best for him. After all, you know your child best (and much better than your friend does), if you want to get him used to socialising then toddler groups/singing groups/gym-type classes will be just as effective as being at the creche. Children don't need to be away from their parents to learn how to socialise.

Honestly, don't worry, I'm sure he's a completely normal, sociable little boy who will not be the slightest bit disadvantaged by staying sat home with you until he's 3.

roquefort Fri 18-Jul-08 20:47:40

Two years in pre-school before he goes to school is plenty - lots of children only do one - and I would argue that three would be too much. It sounds like you are being sociable and getting out and about anyway. He is likely to find it easier being separated from you if you leave it longer.

MadamePlatypus Fri 18-Jul-08 20:59:18

I think that children aren't really supposed to start pre-school until they are almost 3 - before that it is playgroup or nursery or creche. I think your friend sounds a little miss informed.

chelseamorning Fri 18-Jul-08 21:00:00

Ooooh, some lovely stuff here! smile Thanks, ladies.

I feel the creche could be good for him, preparing him for pre-school and then school proper.

I have friends who needed to go back to work when their children were <6 months old. They put them in nursery and had to ignore their tears when they left them. I don't have to do this. I'd rather keep him at home!!!! shock

I don't want my DS to be so upset about my leaving him that he cries and cries and cries. How do you know when they're ready to be left? Is it a case of 'if they cry then they're not' or 'if they don't cry then they're ready'?

VanillaPumpkin Fri 18-Jul-08 21:01:43

Follow your instincts.
DD1 started 2 sessions at 10 mths when we were overseas (I still wonder why, it broke my heart sad). We moved back to the UK when she was 2.5 and there was no room in the nursery I wanted. So we went on the list. She got three sessions at just over three and then five sessions at 3.5. She loved it!
DD2 has been asking to go since she was 2 it seems hmm. I started her for two sessions at 2.5 and she asks to go every day (I must be so dull). She will go five sessions from Sep when she is funded, but only because she keeps nagging me.
I have used the time to volunteer at dd's school which I have really enjoyed and feel has been useful for them too.
There is no rush AT ALL. Don't feel pressured by what everyone else is doing (as I felt with dd1).

VanillaPumpkin Fri 18-Jul-08 21:03:20

(It was a creche dd1 went to firstly, and when I say nursery, it is a pre-school equivalent)

Nemoandthefishes Fri 18-Jul-08 21:06:28

My ds started a playgroup for 3 mornings a week the month before he turned 3, he has since spent the last year in school nursery and will be starting reception in sept. It has been plenty for him. However on the other side I have been sending both my dds [2.6 and 18mths] to a nursery for 2 mornings a week but that is mainly for my own sanity and to allow me to see a psychologist on a monday.They love it and I love it

Niecie Fri 18-Jul-08 21:11:29

Most pre-schools don't take children until they are 2.9yrs anyway. DS2 was 3 when he started nursery. He had no trouble mixing at all. In fact they mix better as they get older as young children only parallel play they don't really play together.

As far as crying goes I don't think crying necessarily means that they aren't ready as long as it isn't for the whole session every session. A few tears is probably to be expected and if you don't get any then great!

You are doing the right thing leaving it - as somebody elses says 2 yrs at pre-school is plenty.

Olihan Fri 18-Jul-08 21:19:05

Some children will cry when they are left, regardless of age. There are 2 children in ds1's preschool who will be going to school in September but were still crying every morning when their mums left. One of the mums was still having to stay for the first 15 mins of every session. But that's 2 out of about 40 children, so it's very unusual. They were both absolutely fine once their mums had gone and weren't the slightest bit upset for the rest of the day, it was just the inital leaving they found hard.

I taught a girl in Year 3 (so 7-8yo) who wanted her mum to bring her into the classroom every morning, clung on to her and had to be coaxed onto the carpet. TBH, the problem with her was mum, who did nothing to discourage her from it, refused to say goodbye in the cloakroom and just fussed and babied her until we became very forceful with her and pretty much banned her from the classroom. The girl came in no problems after that.

The point of that, is that he may be upset - it's a big change for him but you can make it a lot easier by being positive and upbeat about it, reassuring him, etc. As long as he's happy once the initial tears are over and doesn't appear to be finding it excessively stressful then I'd say (IME) he'd be fine.

lou031205 Fri 18-Jul-08 21:41:52

I think that you have to assess your child as the time approaches. My DD is a very confident, inquisitive child, but is very independent, and doesn't tend to 'do' group activities.

I decided that I would start her at preschool at 2.6 years, because it fell exactly one half-term before summer break. For her, I thought it would be best to have a 6 week "introduction" to pre-school, and then she will go back in September at 2.9, and will know how it works.

She had her pre-school end-of-term party today, and she has changed so much in that very short period of time. When we started her at the beginning of June, she screamed when asked to sit on the mat at the beginning, because she couldn't understand why she couldn't play with the lovely activities straight away. The pre-school teachers were lovely, and allowed her to do her own thing, but encouraged a small amount of sitting on the mat, and rewarded the slightest amount of time that she did so.

Two weeks ago, (so 8 sessions in) she suddenly 'clicked' and started collecting her name card, marched over to the teacher and sat on the mat without prompting, not giving me a second glance!

The pre-school teachers have said that she has made great progress, and they can't wait to see what she is like in September. For her it was the right move. But other children might be absolutely fine waiting until 3 or even 3.3.

I will continue to send her 2 mornings per week in September, because I couldn't afford any more. But I think I will increase it in January when she is funded.

seeker Fri 18-Jul-08 21:49:37

Here's a thought. He doesn't have to go to pre-school at all if you don't want him to. It's not compulsory, you know!

They mix when they are ready developmentally to mix - and he's doing lots of activities with other children anyway. If you fancy some child free time, then send him to pre school.

Otherwise just enjoy this time with him. He'll be fine.

Niecie Sat 19-Jul-08 00:56:16

Seeker is right - your DS doesn't have to go to anything.

However, September 2009 is a long way off and a 2 yr old can change a lot in a year. I think it might be too soon to make the decision really. So long as his name is down you can make the final decision nearer the time and just enjoy your time with him for now.

S1ur Sat 19-Jul-08 01:03:21

If your lovely boy doesn't seem ready I wouldn't push it, not even to 'wean' as such. You have the luxury of time and so much can change in a term or two or three. Just three is still little. If you want to give him a chance to be independent from you have you considered other family or freinds at weekends for a bit?

I have delayed my dd going so that she will only have a year of preschool before f-t school. I believe the formality is undesirable too early.

However, my dd also went to private nursery (work necessity) when she was only 1 and there were some definiate benefits, so I think in the end whatever you decide he will flourish and do well because you obv care a great deal and have his very best interests at heart.

chelseamorning Sun 20-Jul-08 23:49:20

Thanks so much for all the replies. Very helpful!!

I know he doesn't have to go to anything. I just want to give him some opportunities to play and learn from others, so that he doesn't become bored of my company. wink People play differently and I'm sure there are things which I've not thought about doing with him etc.

Anyway, I will trust my instincts and will keep reviewing his progress. More importantly, I'll enjoy his company while I have it. smile

Thanks, ladies!

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