A dilemma and possible over-reaction

We went to look at a nursery today (I’m writing on Friday). It was a nursery at the local school – one of two possible primary schools that E is eligible to attend next September.

At E’s two year check up from the health visitor, the HV asked if we’d thought about schools – we hadn’t – and advised that we did. I was appalled at how soon (I wasn’t ready when she was two, I’m still not ready now she’s three) and S did some investigating and found that this one has a nursery attached. At the time we were looking askance at the fees, realised this would be cheaper (it’s an academy school so they can get away with free full time places through however that system works – God knows I have no idea) and decided to take a look. E was accepted onto a full time place (five days a week, 8.30-3) from this coming September and we were asked in so we could have a tour and so on.

Now, I’m very happy with E’s existing nursery. It’s small, she knows everyone, she’s happy, she’s developing well. This school is BIG. I mean really big. I found it large and intimidating and I’m an adult. The nursery is at the side. The staff seemed very nice. There are 45 children to a nursery class, they have to wear uniform, and they eat their dinners in the main canteen (a little earlier than the others to start with).

The workers seemed friendly, there was a range of activities and things to mark development. We had a walk round. It was VERY loud. The children seemed happy, there was lots to look at and lots to do inside and out. I had few quibbles with the standard I saw. (They did have MASSIVE TV screens in each room that some of the children were watching while others did activities – the cynic in me thought a substitute for another carer. There weren’t many books – some but not many.)

In the middle of looking round and listening to them I got a panic attack and had to disguise it with a coughing fit. It wasn’t right. I have no evidence for why I strongly don’t want E to go there except instinct. I kind of need something else as S doesn’t think it seems as much of a problem.

I think my objections are as follows:

  • despite being a nursery and not compulsory it feels very much like we’d be starting her in school a year early. As she’s a late spring baby she will be younger than many classmates when she’s at school anyway and here I think the difference may be more marked. I keep thinking of Scandinavians who think we start children too early here and this would be even worse than normal.
  • They do say that transitions can be stressful times for children – things like changing schools and so on. Is E equipped to deal with this at three? Might she be better at four? She’s an introverted child who observes for a while before joining in at nursery already, and doesn’t like being on the same piece of equipment as others at the playground. S says she’ll have to deal with it so why not now? But I think there’s a lot of development still to go in this next year.
  • She gets very tired going to nursery four days a week. By Wednesday she is a little grumpier in the mornings and Thursdays are bad too. Friday, when we have a day off together, can be quite trying as she objects to a lot and cries easily – through tiredness. They stated a gradual start but they meant over a short period of time – she would soon be expected to go in five days a week.
  • If she started here she would go into that school next year. I haven’t looked at the other school locally that we’re eligible for. They won’t let us go round till next year but if we like that more, it’s either another change next year or we keep her in a school we like less.

Other, more trivial, objections:

  • A gradual start means I’m going to have to take a whole week off work to settle her in. I don’t have a week free or, if I do, I don’t have any time off at Christmas. S doesn’t have any time spare either without cancelling a holiday we’ve booked in October.
  • They serve pizza and burgers once a week in their school canteen. I would like to use the school dinners because E is not a great sandwich eater. The menu did not strike me as great.
  • Although the initial care is free, there were other payments that crept in as they talked – rather like a Ryanair flight. All of them justifiable, and it would still work out cheaper than our current place and yet…
  • Few books? Lots of noise? A big TV?
  • Uniform! (I support uniforms in general having the memories of the sheer hell of non-uniform day at school myself but something in me rebelled here. Or I could by now just be looking for excuses.)
  • She learns French at her current nursery. I couldn’t see evidence of that there.

S is ready to phone on Monday and cancel our place. This isn’t an argument. But I would like something better to support my decision than a vague feeling that she’s too little. Am I being too sensitive and cautious? Or just plain silly?

(When we got home we found E had inadvertently stolen one of their plastic dinosaurs. They may not accept her if they know of her kleptomaniac tendencies…)

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3 Responses to A dilemma and possible over-reaction

  1. Notagoth says:

    Obviously I’m not a parent, and so what do I know about anything, but I can’t help but completely agree. I saw my niece at 7 struggling with grammatical concepts I hadn’t done til 11 and just thought “It’s too early!” Everything in the curriculum is done too early & rushed through & they don’t get time to catch their breath. To my mind, any delay they get can only be a good thing.

  2. aviets says:

    Please please please go with your instinct here. Everything you described screamed to me NOT A GOOD PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES! It sounds more like a warehouse than a loving, nurturing environment for very small children. And three is VERY small. You are not overreacting. And I say that as a parent of three, a teacher, and a person who’s worked with children and families all her life.

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