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Trouble at nursery

(3 Posts)
Yarnie Thu 24-Sep-15 09:55:52

My youngest son is having a hard time at nursery. He is 3.5 years and has just started his second year at an independent nursery. He goes 5 half days a week.

He took a very long time to settle in (about 3/4 year), and after that was not so much settled as resigned. The move into a new class, with a new teacher and a change in peer group has predictably unsettled him.

At this point, I should say that he does not have any diagnosed SN, but his elder brother is autistic.

He does not join in at nursery and deeply prefers (and enjoys) spending time with the staff. He struggled to hit it off with any of his peers. His first year teacher, who was great, spotted another peer who she thought my son would get on with, given a chance. I arranged a play date, which they both enjoyed and they have been friendly since. Outside of nursery, my son is pretty good, socially, in the playground, for example. He will spot someone he wants to play with and he might seek my help to break the ice, but then plays nicely, has good negotiating skills, etc. He is also pretty good on play dates and when we see the children of damily friends, etc. At nursery, his interactions with peers are very limited. He doesn't spend a lot of time with children his own age out of nursery, as he generally hates organised classes, etc, but he probably does something with a friend or we visit people at least once every 2 weeks.

My son has a slightly unusual profile as he is very verbally able (he took part in an autism sibs study and was testing at an 8 year old level for verbal reasoning), etc. He is showing signs of being very bright. He has an exceptional memory. He also has a will of iron(!)

The reason I am writing is to get some advice on two fronts. Firstly, my son doesn't seem very happy. He lacks self-esteem and is scared of failing (so doesn't like trying new things). He is very attached to me and highly insecure without me. Obviously, this insecurity and unhappiness makes me sad, and I want to help him.

No doubt these problems are what is causing him difficulty at nursery, although perhaps not exclusively (I also wonder whether he lacks the right kind of stimulation). Working on his feelings is the long-term plan, but can anyone think of anything I or nursery could do to help make it a better experience for him in the short term? I am concerned that nursery are just dealing with the behaviour (crying, isolating himself), and not helping with the underlying problems.

At home, we can sometimes get a bit (very?!) stressed, mainly because of issues that arise with my autistic son's education. We try to shield my sons from that, but it probably doesn't work all the time. Also, we do parent the boys a little differently, although our baseline expectations of them are the same. As my younger son's comprehension is very good, I do try to explain why we and his elder brother do certain things, but it must be difficult for him.

Just recently, I have felt myself getting a bit frustrated/resentful at this state of affairs, which doesn't help anyone and I'm working on that. It's probably because I don't really have any social life or practical support, and not enough time to myself. I'm working on that, though. I think having a kind of plan of action for my younger son will also make me feel better, as it just all seems so interwoven and complex. I find it more challenging that dealing with my autistic son, where the solutions to things always seem quite clear.

Thanks in advance!

knittingwithnettles Sat 26-Sep-15 21:24:49

This isn't much help but I wondered whether the elephant in the room is that it is just the wrong sort of nursery for your child? Ds2 has HFA but before he was diagnosed we sent him to a Montessori,mornings in termtime only. It was highly structured, but also free play in some ways and it suited him very well. He was very very happy there and felt I think very secure because he knew when the adults were interacting and when he was expected to do independent play. Also there was no pressure onhim to use fine motor skills before he was ready,no writing with pens or colouring when he hadn't mastered tripod grip. Drama and reading stories also encouraged cooperative play.

However, there were children there for whom it was completely the wrong environment, much too much direction and not enough outside letting off steam -they actually went beserk and were very badly behaved and were being constantly told off. I suspect it was anxiety/cortisol that made them run amok. THOSE children would have done better in a nursery with lots of climbing frames and dinosaurs and dressing up clothes (ds's Montessori was a very strict Montessori with no toys whatsoever, just practical things)

I suppose your description of your son might suggest that he is fine, but his environmnent doesn't suit him. Or that he isn't ready for nursery and might just enjoy your company and the other activities you do with himfar more. Nursery isn't necessary. For some children it might be very beneficial but if it obviously ISN'T then look through the right end of the telescope. I meet plenty of home edders whose children have never gone to nursery and IT HAS DONE THEM NO HARM WHATSOEVER. They are independent cooperative and everything you would expect a nursery to churn out.

Yarnie Sun 27-Sep-15 23:42:41

Thanks *knittingwithnettles". Really helpful comments. It is something that has crossed my mind. I do wonder, maybe, if he'd have the same problems at any nursery. He doesn't like being away from me (when he can't get to me, anyway. If we're at the playground together, he's independent-ish, he's obviously just more confident knowing I am nearby). This is clearly something he has to get used to, but I feel like there is SO MUCH going on in that little brain of his. He gets everything that is going on around him. No nuance or detail is missed. He is constantly taking on and processing information to a much greater extent than a typical 3 year old (although I don't think I know what normal or typical are, anymore!). I think he just needs safe people, ideally me, around him, as back-up, to help him navigate for a bit longer. We do plan to send him to school, though, and I worry that he won't be prepared for that if he doesn't go to nursery. Argh!

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