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Hi there, my daughter turned 3 in Aug, & started preschool in Sept. I’m a full-time mum, D hadn’t been cared for by anyone except me, her dad & granny, so we decided to enrol her for 3 sessions, each for 3 hours at first to help her settle in at her own pace. So far she enjoys school, never upset about being left or when she’s there, & tells us bits & bobs she’s been up to. After 8 weeks at school, her keyworker (an LSA) said she hardly communicates or engages when there, & often ignores adults talking to her, refuses to hold hands with other children when asked to. We have no concerns with her language, hearing etc at home, we feel she’s a bright, imaginative, independent girl, although her strong will & choosing to ignore our requests can be pretty challenging at times, but we feel it’s all normal 3 year old stuff! Anyway, the school has applied for her to have a place on Nursery Plus, a kind of intervention. It will involve some sessions with smaller groups encouraging communication etc, and we felt it wouldn’t hurt. If it goes ahead this will start in January.
I suppose we feel that this is all very new for her, & she just needs some time to adjust gradually.. The keyworker said she is finding her feet a bit more now, and she’s making friends with a couple of children.
Now school are saying ‘we noticed she’s only in for 9 hours, we think you should increase to 15 in January’. When I expressed my doubts that she is ready, the keyworker’s face fell like she thought I was crazy ‘I know it’s hard letting go’, ‘but she’ll be full-time in reception in September’ in a patronising tone. I said I don’t think she’ll be ready for reception in September, and may take her part time or something ad hoc depending how she copes. ‘But she’d be missing out, they do a big chunk of numbers & letters morning & afternoon…’
We just feel that only just 4 is very young to be in school 30 hours per week, & it makes it hard for me to do other things with her as she’s so tired after sessions! I know literacy & numeracy are very important, but we also do a variety of other things, see friends & family outside of school, & D really enjoys those relationships that are developing all the time…
This school business has been quite stressful for me so far, all these conversations on the way out the gate… We just want D to be allowed to be herself in terms of her personality & development, & engage willingly with others when she’s comfortable. We’re just not the kind of people who do what’s expected, just because ‘everyone else does’, it’s not always easy though!
Sorry it’s a lengthy post, just wondered if anyone has any thoughts or experiences to share? Thanks for reading!

Hello JEMummy

I haven’t posted on here for ages, but thought this information maybe useful to others also.

You have several things to think about here.

Firstly nursery class is not statutory education. Therefore you do not have to increase your daughter’s attendance if you don’t want to.

Reception class there are several options to look at:

On allocation of the school place, you could decide to let your daughter start in September and speak with the school about starting part time and increasing to full time. This would only be able to happen throughout the reception class year.

On allocation of the school place, you could decide to speak to the school about deferred entry in order to keep the reception class place, your daughter would need to start by the summer term the latest. Many people work with the primary school and agree a January/Spring Term start in line with the old system of two reception start dates of Sept and Jan based on birth dates.

I am not sure if you have read any of the recent information/debate about deferred entry for summer born children, there is no clear guidance/system in place for this regarding the admissions process or this about the moment. But you could speak to your local authority about how they are handling these requests and would would be your chances of being successful with this if you decide to take this route. There are implications regarding if the current nursery will keep your child for another year. Plus the govt doesn’t have a system in place for secondary admissions out of age rang.

Sorry my post is so long and full of so much to consider and think about. But I am hope after talking to the school you come to a decision that works best for your daughter.

Simone x

My son is a July baby so was also very young for starting school, he attended the reception year and managed to organise flexy schooling where he could have a random 25 days off over the year, I then took him out totally to home educate and he is doing really well.
Children do not have to be in full time education until they are 5 (in school or at home) so it is totally your right to have her in for as many hours as you think are best for her, unfortunately I have met my share of patronising teachers and it can be hard to stick to your principals when they are stating that your child will be so disadvantaged “if they miss out on such an important part of their education…... ” as long as your are reading, playing, out and about together they are not looking anything, imo.
Good luck with it all,

Hi and welcome smile  I think you may have found your tribe here!!

We have always HE so can’t offer much advice on how to manage the schoolside of things *but* what struck me about your post was what you said about how your daughter had always been cared for by just you etc and doesn’t hold hands/interact with other adults etc when at school.  To me, that would be a real indication of how secure your daughter is, how utterly fulfilled her emotional needs are through her parenting and she doesn’t *need* or seek out additional emotional support from relative strangers.  Sadly, she is probably in a tiny minority and so what is considered actually ‘unusual’ behaviour, is in fact ‘normal’ - does that make sense?  A friend of mine at school induction was told to expect crying etc when her son was left as 75% of the children cry in the first few weeks then are ok…hers didn’t and actually she felt awful because she believed because he had been in child care since a babe in arms he was used to being with totally new people so didn’t miss her…so very tough.  Personally, with small alarm bells already ringing after less than a term, i would read up on home edding wink

Hi there, Id say listen to your instincts and do what you feel is right for your daughter, whatever that ends up being:)

My daughter went to playschool and her experience sounds very similar. She enjoyed it but struggled to communicate her needs. She was too tired to do much in the afternoons at home. I continued with just the 3 sessions, I did up the sessions on a trial basis but the balance of life at school vs home was disrupted. She continued with 3 sessions until the end. I don’t believe literacy/numeracy skills at that age are as important as developing family relationships, free play indoors and out.

My daughter completed playschool but did not go to school & her brother was home ed from the start (bar 3 terrible months of playschool). Nearly 5 years on we are all happy & learning! My daughter is much more confident socially & more able to get her needs met, she has been able to develop at her own rate. She is still headstrong, but she is very balanced. Her periods of muteness in social situations were totally a pointer that she was not 100% comfortable. It is no longer an issue now. Life is just relaxed and learning feels so natural. She read at 8 and literally devours books. She writes for pleasure & her maths ability is also just fine.

You know your child best, do what you think is the right thing for her at the right time for her, whether that be more hours at preschool or less x

To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.

LETS number 137

My daughters are both exactly the same—I know them well and know that they are happy, well-adjusted children, but they are *extremely* reserved with people they don’t know, particularly the older one. All the comments you received about your daughter, I’ve received about mine. In fact, just the other day we were at a farewell party for some friends who are moving and two little girls came to ask DD1 if she would like to go upstairs and play—she very matter-of-factly said “No.” Hahahaha! I was mortified, to be perfectly honest, because I do feel the weight of people’s expectations—who doesn’t?!?—but I also thought, you know, why *should* she go off upstairs, away from her comfort zone, to play with 2 people she’s known for half an hour?!? I wouldn’t want to do it either!

Personally I think your daughter’s behaviour is perfectly normal. She sounds like a child whose trust needs to be earned, that’s all. And as you say, she has always been with you, so there’s no doubt that the new environment is going to be stressful to some extent. I’ve never accepted “but she’s going to have to get used to it” as a good enough explanation—yes, people have to get used to interacting with strangers at some point, but why all at once at age 4, and why on adults’ terms, not on their own? We’ve created this artificial system and then we decide that all children should be made to fit into it! Unless you live in a bubble in outer space, your children *will* eventually be interacting with new people on a regular basis.

As to literacy and numeracy: there is absolutely no evidence that formal education before age 7 is beneficial in the long-term, and MUCH evidence that suggests it might be actively harmful. Scandinavian countries don’t begin formal education until 7, and yet 5 years later their kids are performing better than British kids. I don’t think four-year-olds need to be sitting in a classroom being drilled on letters and numbers—even if it doesn’t end up harming them in the long-term, it is at the very least a waste of their precious time. Childhood is so short! I know that home-edding is not an option for everybody, but I’d urge you to find your way to a solution that works for you and your daughter—whether it’s delaying her entry into formal schooling, or flexi-schooling, or something else. We home ed as well, and it’s amply clear to me that children are always, always learning, in fact much more out of a classroom than in it. You’d have to actively *stop* them from learning for them not to, I think, in any household that isn’t glued to screens. I would not worry about literacy and numeracy at this stage.

Just wanted to add re: the holding hands thing: I remember an incident with DD1 when she was 3 (she’s now 6) and I’d enrolled her in a weekly gym activity mainly because I had a brand new baby and was going crazy and needed to get us out of the house. Anyway, during the toddler gym sessions the children were supposed to “form a train” to go from one station to another, and DD1 flatly refused;she’d walk to the next station on her own, but not join the “train.” At home she told me she didn’t want to touch the other children because “I don’t know them.” Now, for a lot of more mainstream people this almost seems to set off autism warning bells, but I also knew that DD1 was extremely cuddly and clingy with her parents, so I gave it a bit more thought, and I realised that so much of what we ask of them—making a train?!? holding hands with strangers?!?—is almost demeaning. I mean, adults don’t hold hands to go from place to place! Adults don’t form trains! I think some children are fine with it, but some children immediately sense that they are being forced to behave in these ridiculous ways, and they resist it. My mother-in-law likes to say that DD1 has “a good bullshit detector” (excuse my language, I’m only quoting wink), and that’s just it, that *is* what she has, and some children just do, and they won’t modify their behaviour just to play the game or please the authorities—why should that be a bad thing?

I agree with everything that has been written here!  I think the UK education system pushes children to do things when they are not ready for them, we start everything too young which is ok for some but not for all, it is not flexible enough.  My children have never been to school and maybe never will but that is up to them.  My eldest did go to a nursery for a while as I went back to work when he was nine months old.  He did three short days a week and loved it.  It was very small and there was no pressure for them to be anything other than themselves, he didn’t want to leave when he reach school age.  You daughter sounds very like he was at that age even now at 11 people still think he is shy and quiet, but he is confident and very sure of himself and that, to me, is far more important. 

It may not be the reason for the comments but nurseries are funded by the number of hours a child signs up for.  So at the moment that is nine hours not fifteen.  The money for year is allocated each Spring based on the take up of hours at that time (it’s the same for school too), so it will be in a nursery’s interest to have your child in for as many hours as they possibly can to get the funding, even if that is not what is in the best interest for the child.

Even if it is not something you have thought about, from what you have written I would be seriously considering home education perhaps just for the early years of school to start with and take from there.  There are lots of people on here who are taking that route if you want/need help, advice and support please don’t hesitate to ask!

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