If you saw my Instagram stories last week, you might already know that I’m not overly impressed with Amelia’s new nursery. A part of me initially worried if I was just missing her old nursery, and consequently, my old workplace. The kids were extremely fortunate to attend an excellent nursery before we moved to the west country, and we knew that it would be hard to find somewhere that would compare. The only reason that the kids were able to attend the nursery that they did was because I worked there, and management offered a fantastic deal on rates for the children of staff. The deal worked in everyone’s favour; the nursery got a member of staff, I got childcare, the kids got an amazing nursery. Like I said, very lucky!
The chances of us stumbling on a deal like that when we moved were slim to none. So we agreed that I would stay at home with Wills and focus on blogging (yay!) and use Amelia’s funded 15 hours to keep her nursery routine going and give her the stimulation that she so needs and craves! Having been treated to fantastic nursery teaching since she was about 17 months old, it’s hard for me to keep up to the same standards on my own at home. She just needs more than I can always manage to give her.
The little things that have been bugging me at the new place might seem trivial, and I guess on their own some of them are. But cumulatively they add up to the bigger, not-awful-but-not-amazing picture.
I gave Amelia her name, and I love it. It’s the name she’s always had and (probably) always will have. Aside from that, it’s just a bit rude to get someone’s name wrong, especially when it’s been written down for you several times! After she was sent home with a slip about bringing in family photos for a project that said ‘Amelie’ on it, Amelia decided to drop into convo that “yeah… that’s what some people call me”. She actually named names, but I won’t do that as I’m not out to embarrass anyone. Having spoken to them, I’m sure it was just an honest mistake that can be forgiven. Issue resolved.
I think I actually used the phrase “you’re not there to be the fun police” in a caption on Instagram about this. My bad, I was cross and in the moment! This relates to an issue we had with a Halloween costume last week. Yes it’s very early, but Amelia is so enamoured with her Halloween dress that she’s barely taken it off since Nana bought it for her. We recently watched Maleficent and she’s convinced she looks like her in it. She asked if she could take it to nursery and, naturally, they told her of course! So she took it in only to be told by a member of staff (again, she named names. Well, pointed and loudly told me “HER!”) that she couldn’t put it on. Why? Because she asked the member of staff, who then asked another member of staff who apparently didn’t give an answer, so instead of making a decision herself told Amelia no. Fail. Amelia’s words to me on the way home broke my heart;
“I keeped looking at my dress on my peg and it maked me want to cry, but I didn’t cry because I’m a big girl. I just didn’t know why I wasn’t wearing it.”
Not only was she not wearing it, she wasn’t even given a reason why. I’d be pissed, too.
Amelia happened to mention to me on the way home that she remembered she used to write on the whiteboard at her old nursery, and she could copy lots of letters and names like mine, her own, and Daddy’s and William’s! Seeing as she’d mentioned it, I thought I’d pass along the expression of interest to her key person. BUT her response was utterly disheartening. She told me that they’re not really working on anything like that yet with the pre-school room, as they’ve only just come up the room and aren’t really ready for it yet. Well, some of them are, clearly! At least one…
I know from personal experience that every single child is unique and should be treated as such. I’m not for one minute suggesting that kids who aren’t ready should be forced to put pen to paper, but neither do I believe that those who are ready should be held back because of others. A willingness and desire to engage in activities like this should be encouraged, not put on the back burner. Who knows, you might even find that kids you didn’t think were ready pick up a pen and shine!
The more I pick her up and drop her off, the more I’ve noticed (and been frustrated by) a lack of communication. When we arrive for nursery, I don’t expect a fanfare and red carpet to be rolled out, but an acknowledgement and a hello would be great. We don’t even get that. There have been mornings I’ve stood with Amelia for a good 3 or 4 long minutes while staff carry on around us before anyone has even said “Morning Amelia” let alone “Would you like to come and join in with x-y-z activity?”
Being dropped off at nursery is a contentious moment for a lot of kids, let alone those who have only moved or started there a matter of weeks previously. A simple hello and invitation to join in would help massively with the drop off jitters. I was also reminded by a particularly fantastic teacher I happen to know that in not saying hello, they are teaching the children that it’s ok to ignore someone when they enter a room. That’s not ok in my book, in fact it’s downright rude.
I’ve noticed a distinct lack of activity and next steps planning within the nursery. Put simply, next steps planning is when a child’s key person uses evidence (their observations) of where the child is currently at in their development to plan activities which will help them achieve the next step of development. This is a big part of their job as early years staff, yet I haven’t seen any evidence of it. I get the impression that most days are approached with a kind of over-exaggerated form of free-flow. free-flow is fantastic and allows kids to explore and develop naturally through play, but planned and structured activities with an intended developmental outcome are equally as important, especially as the children get this close to school age. Amelia seems to be slowly losing all sense of daily structure, and it’s showing in her behaviour at home too.
Like most of us, I know my kids pretty well. I know that Amelia’s behaviour is directly linked to a few key things, one of which is how stimulated she is throughout the day. TV on all day = b****. Playing in the garden, going for a walk, chatting to me, doing a planned activity = less of a b****! She thrives on praise, and when she gets it she does all the right things to get more. Safe to say she’s been coming home more often than not in full b**** mode, which concerns me.
Choosing the Right Nursery
The experience so far has made me feel like I’ve failed her in the choosing of her new nursery. We decided to have another look around, and have come across a setting which seems to be offering everything that I feel like she’s currently missing. Their planning and next step planning is visible for all to see, and I witnessed the pre-school children laughing and having loads of fun being silly with masks, while another group took part in a planned activity. Their key person allocation seemed more structured, and they have a primary school teacher on site 5 days a week who identifies children’s needs and takes time out with each of them in small groups every day. They have a strong focus on values and manners, and while everyone looked like they were having tons of fun, nowhere in the nursery looked like chaos.
I’d move her there tomorrow (even with the £50 per month additional charge for supplies and lunch). But there’s the problem. Funding for Amelia for the term has already been sent to her current nursery, meaning that any other nursery wouldn’t be able to access funding for her until January. By the time January comes around, I’m worried that she’ll be well and truly settled in her nursery, and will have even started to form friendships. If I were to move her again, that would mean that in the space of 6 months she would have moved home, moved city, moved nursery, left solid friends and family behind, and then moved nursery again, only to be faced with another big move to school 8 months later in September! That feels like a lot of change for an adult to handle, let alone a 3 1/2-year-old.
So I’m genuinely stumped as to where to go from here. Do I do my best to offer her at home what she’s missing at nursery and use it for what it is – a lovely opportunity to socialise with other kids and be independent from me a few days a week? Do I attempt to coax her nursery into offering her a bit more without coming off like that pushy heli-mum? Or do I risk the massive upheaval of yet another move in January?
What would you do?