The preschooler who's not at preschool (yet)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Other than mistaking him for a girl the other major assumption Joe Public make about The Toddler is that he should be in Nursery.  Why? Simply because he's three and a half.  Just because he's now eligible for a free place, people assume he should therefore be using it.

I've never attended a mother and baby group in my entire life.  Thing One was due to start reception, full time, two weeks following his fourth birthday so we sent him to nursery for at first two mornings and later an afternoon from the February to July merely to prepare him for the setting and routine.  He's an incredibly open, friendly, confident and academically advanced child.  

I clearly remember when The Health Visitor came to do routene check on Thing Two when she was a toddler and upon asking me which nursery she attended to which I responded none, she embarked upon a pro-nursery speech.  By the time she left, she admitted that having now met us and spent time with Thing Two she could understand absolutely why we didn't feel it necessary to send her and that she was absolutely flourishing at home.  We did send her, eventually, however Thing Two has the opposite problem to Thing One.  Thing one started full time reception class in infants a mere two weeks after his fourth birthday yet Thing Two started reception a day or two before her fifth birthday.  There is a lot of difference between a four year old and a five year old physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.  She started Nursery after her fourth birthday in a similar pattern to Thing One yet within a few months she requested to go five sessions a week.  Thing two has always been frightfully articulate and despite being somewhat reserved she is incredibly popular (she must have been adopted!) with teachers and children and consistently achieves several years ahead academically.

Both of them are confident, friendly, honest, genuine, caring, articulate and have excellent manners and yet I was viewed as being in the wrong for not sending them to nursery the instant they turned three.  Apparently it would hold them back or do them some kind of harm or maybe make them weird or something. Oh, did I also mention that they both love school too?

There's a huge belief that toddlers need to be socialised.  What young children need is someone to hug them when they need hugging, to play with them when they want playing with, to help them manage and understand their feelings and bodies and how to cope with stress as well as forming particular attachment to people.  Social skills can be gained at home.

Others insist nursery will help eradicate the shyness of some children.  It won't.  Shyness isn't always what someone does it can be simply who they are.  Some people are shy.  Shyness isn't a negative thing to be.  Rather than try and beat it we should instead help them develop healthy coping strategies and most of all respect their shyness.

I have nothing against pre-schools and nurseries and know many parents depend on them. However for myself and my children, they seem unnecessary and superfluous to our needs until they're about to start school.  I feel the British education system is too harsh and starts far far too early undermining the value of home and family.  In many countries formal education doesn't start until age 6-7 yet the pupils often are equal or even surpass ours academically.  Once in school, that's it for a very long time.  Once they turn five, unless you home school, they have to attend school. The government seem intent on separating our children from us as early as possible, enrolling into the system which they then have control over.  Because that's what it's all about; control.  Miraculously society have been led to accept this, to think that this is okay.

I'm genuinely happy that many toddlers are happy at nursery and that it was the right choice for their parents.   I just wish more people would extend the same courtesy and acceptance to those who delay nursery/pre-school

So yes, The Toddler is 3.5yrs old and not at Nursery yet and we're loving it.


  1. i have to admit that I DID send my boy to preschool at the early age of 2, BUT it was for medical reasons. He had early hearing loss due to recurrent ear infections, and actually NEEDED the interaction with other adults and children, as well as the speech therapist to help him "catch up" verbally. i missed him terribly, and wouldn't have sent him if he didn't genuinely need it, but he did benefit greatly, and loved going.
    everyone's needs are different, and i was actually criticized FOR sending him, which is opposite or your situation.

    are our cultures really THAT different?

  2. I couldn't agree with you more, I wrote a similar post here when our oldest started nursery aged 4.5 a few weeks ago
    It drives me nuts when people say they send their kids to nursery/playgroup/preschool to 'socialise' them - ridiculous. Kids learn social skills (or not) from their primary carers and family members not other kids. And nursery at 2 or 3 is not for educational reasons. As a primary teacher myself I'm quite clear on that - it's childcare and should be recognised as such.


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