DD starting school with no nursery experience(16 Posts)
I'm incredibly excited for my daughter to start school in September, I think she will really enjoy it and I feel she is very ready.
But... She hasn't had any proper preschool or nursery experience. We tried her twice in two different nurseries, but both were unsuccessful experiences. The second was pretty traumatic all round really; she had severe nightmares about separation, a sibling had arrived and she took it very badly, her primary career at the nursery kept taking time off and she was bumped about to different groups each day etc. We kept her in for a term, part time, but she never settled.
I am wondering what I can do to help her between now and September? And routines/ideas/suggestions?
And any suggestions for me too really?! I can imagine I will find it pretty difficult...
Her sister is 2.5 now, I think we will start her in nursery at the sane time. They are very close and like doing things together, I thought this might help...? All the schools we are applying to have been very accommodating and jointly we have proposed that our eldest can be flexible between nursery/reception if she needs to be as she settles.
While I think you could spot the difference in DD's reception class between children being in full day nursery, part-time pre-school or just at home it was more the independence skills than academical knowledge.
I think the best you can do is making sure your DD is able to mix with other children, give her independence to be without you and prepare her a bit by making sure she recognises numbers, shapes and letter. all children in DD's class started on various levels of knowledge so no pre-school won't make a difference on this level.
Do yo attend any classes with them, going to playgroups?
Or, would you be able to send them now to nursery despite the younger one not 3 yet?
Yes we go to lots of playgroups, have playdates with friends who have children etc.
Academically I think she will be alright initially as she is nearly reading- joining up 3 letter words. Handwriting/co-ordination not fab. Numbers ok. I don't know how well she will adapt to being taught in a large group- being able to listen to instruction without distraction... I imagine she will be a bit like a rabbit in headlights and so focus on the children rather than the teaching! I could help her academically now so she can afford to take a knock initially?
But shapes...err, Yearh will need to work on these, esp 3d shapes, thanks for that, very useful.
I wouldn't worry about the academics at all. There will be children with a range of abilities.
I'd work on independence- can she get undressed and dressed, hang up her coat, put her things away in a drawer, eat her lunch ...
She also needs to be able to sit and listen and follow instructions.
And to be able to play independently without adult input.
I would also make sure she is used to being left somewhere without you, so a morning spent at a relative or friend's house whilst you go shopping sort of thing.
Would also see if there are any groups she (and her sister?) could go to, so that she gets used to listening and following instructions. Our sports centre used to do loads of things for pre schoolers.
The only difference I've seen between my DCs who went to the school nursery and the couple of children who were at home full time was that my DCs knew some of the other children. They also knew the school and seemed to settle into the new routine easier. It was more the independence and being able to follow instructions from teachers than academics. Nursery tends to be more play based than proper learning until the term before they start reception.
Dd1 found it difficult to settle into nursery at first as there's only a small age gap between her and ds1 so she missed being at home with him. She did settle after a few weeks but when ds joined her at nursery I found that he settled in straight away. The same will hopefully be the same for your DDs and they'll help each other settle especially if its set up like our school where nursery and reception share a playground.
As other have said I'd work on her independence and being away from you. Are there any spaces in a nursery for one or both, even just one session per week, so that she can get used to being around other adults that aren't close to her? I think this is what my dd1 struggled with at first as she'd only been looked after by us and my parents and always with ds1 and it was a bit strange to her.
DS never went to pre-school and settled in fine from the very first day of primary so don't worry too much, just make sure you do lots of telling her how exciting school will be and practice taking herself to the loo, getting her coat on etc.
Settling in school was much much easier than nursery. They're there every day, they have the same teachers every day and the same children every day unlike nursery which was all over the place. By the end of a week or two it's like they've been there all their lives.
The most helpful thing in terms of prep I think is to make sure they can dress and undress, feed themselves and use the toilet independently. The academics there's such a huge range they really do start from scratch.
My Dd never went to nursery or preschool. Although lots of people tried to tell me she would find school very difficult, she was the most confident of all, we've never had any tears. Her teacher said she is excellent at sharing, taking turns, following instructions, which she learnt from us and going to groups etc.
I did worry though, just like you are!
My DS went to nursery full time from 11 months, he still found the adjustment to school very hard. He could do all the things he needed to ( put on coat, eat lunch, listen, etc), but he's shy and finds new places and bring sociable difficult. Each child is different, your dd will be fine!
it really does depend on the child. I know people who have said 'he has been in full time nursery he will be fine' and had the opposite experience and others who have only done 1 preschool session and the children have settled with no problems.
Is there a nursery at the school or one that children who will be in reception tend to go to?
Maybe worth trying her again with part time nursery from after Easter?
My DD was in a nursery but she ended up going to the nursery at the school she was starting reception at just 1 day a week from after Easter. Think she went 8 times and to sportsday etc. It was enough to make her feel part of things made me smile when she came home from reception on the first day talking about the new girls - a few nursery sessions and she wasn't a new girl.
Dont worry, the whole purpose of reception year is to ease them into school gently, there really is no need for them to have attended nursery despite what others may tell you. Ive found its the children who have had the security of home for the first 4-5 years who are the most confident and settle the easiest for the exact reason that they have had that security which builds their self confidence. Like others have said just give her the opportunity to learn self help skills, dress self, hang up coat etc and she will thrive.
If you are worried about separation anxiety are there any really good friends you could leave your daughter with (just for 30 minutes, even) so that she gets used to the fact that you can't be joined at the hip forever?
Could you enrol her in something like pre-school ballet, gym or swimming classes so she gets used to dealing with a fairly formalised class (still good fun, but children do have to concentrate and do what they were told) without having parents to turn to?
Personally, I would try to get her to go to nursery again (even for a small amount of time). My neighbour's 4 year old had a spectacular "fail" settling into a large nursery...6 months later they took him to a much smaller one and he found that a lot easier. Sods law, that nursery had to close, but he loves the new one with barely a grumble.
There are plenty of lovely books about going to nursery for the first time (or school for that matter). You will probably find the children pick up every cough and cold going so get a bit of immunity before Autumn term at school.
Our nursery made a "big thing" about going to school for a few weeks of the summer term. School uniforms took pride of place in the dressing up corner and a great many school-themed stories were read.
Even if there are a few setbacks over the next few months, try to make a point of reinforcing the good points.
Aside from the basic literacy and numeracy Reception seems to be about building basic living/social skills. Get her used to pouring some water if she is thirsty, getting changed and deciding when to wear coat and gloves, going to the loo when she needs to (rather than waiting for you to spot she has been jiggling up and down for 5 minutes)......
Above all, try not to get stressed because kids can spot things like that a mile off!
I agree with everyone else who says you need to practice separation. With two nursery failures behind you she only knows being taken out when it goes wrong. Academic issues fall into place but being confident about school and being away from Mum are different issues. Also, try not to show anxiety yourself. Be confident, up beat and excited for both of you. Backing out again if things are not right, is, presumably, not an option this time.
Thank you so much for all your brilliant responses! I can't tell you how much I appreciate them and how reassuring they have been.
We are in the process of moving house to be near a particular school we have found that we think would be great for our daughters. We have rented out our house and have taken a sabbatical for 7 months in Andalucia - we are here now. On returning to UK we will be relocating to a new part of the country. It is a lot of change. We talk to them openly about where we are living/travelling/moving to etc.
We could put them both in a local Spanish nursery, in the same class, for a few months. The only hesitation is, a) language barrier- they are not bilingual but of an age and enjoy communicating enough that they would thrive I think, after the initial crunch. b) If they don't enjoy it, and it turns into another failed experience we will be pulling them out anyway to go back to the UK. It seems to me that this might reinforce that if an experience is negative then they can move on again. c) if they do enjoy it and form friendships we will be breaking them off.
I wonder if it is just best to make the most of this situation but preparing how we can in terms of independence and learning letters etc, and then really talk about enjoying school/order some books to Spain and read them here?? And then to have enough faith in the school that they will help her transition while we are not around.
My gut instinct is that she is really ready and will thrive at school. I didn't feel she was particularly ready for nursery but felt under enormous social pressure to put her in. Was told 'you need your life back/how boring/engage your mind in something else' etc etc. Which I found very hard and not true. I wanted to look after them, and quite possibly/probably she picked up on me not being ready.
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