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  • Writer's picture Sally Rustomji

When should my child start school? Q and A

Updated: Jun 15, 2019

Each Year around the beginning of the Summer Term - schools are on a mission to get as many children enrolled as possible . I hear time and time again from parents that schools are targeting families to get their child started early for a number of reasons - non in my opinion which are beneficial to the child.

I have seen first hand how the school environment can effect the social and emotional development in children from as young as 3 and this can have long lasting effects on their learning for many years to come. We strongly feel that 3 is too young for a school environment based on evidence and reaseach.

Between the age of 3 to 5 significant changes occur in children and the needs in a 3 year old are still very complex. By the time the child reaches their 4th year we see their skills be enhanced and watch our most confident young learners head off to school . I cannot begin to tell you how many times we have seen children leave us to start school as young as 3, only to have a call from parents asking for their place back as it is all just too much!

We get asked so many questions about whether or not a child should start school early that I decided to use these for this blog post. We are in anyway forcing our opinion on you, however we do believe in choice.

These are genuine questions we have been asked by parents and they are supplied for your information only. Please remember your child should not be a source of funding for a school - they are little people and the choice on whether to start them early should be yours.

Q: What is the difference between a private nursery and school nursery?

A: Both are nursery schools and follow the same EYFS statutory guide lines however…..

Private nurseries run their sessions on each individual child’s interests. The staff observe, plan and look at your child’s next steps to create activities that suit your child needs all in line with the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).

A School Nursery may follow topic lead teaching that does not always suit your child's interests. This can have a huge impact on confidence and learning.

Private nurseries will not ask your child to sit at a table and take part in focused teaching activities as this goes against the EYFS ethos.

Q: What about the funding, attendance, drop offs and pick ups?

A: Both receive 15 or 30 hours a weeks for all 3-4 year olds however, most school nurseries will only offer you mornings or afternoons with a top up charge for lunches and lunchtime care and after school care.

Private Nurseries are flexible with timings and attendance. If you decide to take your child on a family holiday during term time, that’s not a problem.

School nurseries may stop you having holidays in school term times.

Private Nursery schools are small and friendly places that welcomes parents and their opinions. They often run with an open door policy where you are welcome at all times.

School nurseries may take your child at the door and you will only be allowed in with an appointment to see or speak to someone.

Private Nurseries are open all year round.

School Nurseries are term time only.

Q: What about the staff and ratios?

A: At our nursery we have a child:Adult ratio of 1-8 for 3/4 year olds.

Private Nurseries legally have to run on a 1 adult to every 8 children ratio

School Nurseries can run on a 1-16 ratio meaning 2 members of staff for 32 children!

Private nurseries may have a key child system in place so that each child and parent feels they have someone special to build a relationship with.

School Nurseries may not.

Q: My school nursery said it important for them to make friends with the children who they will be going to school with!

A: How many times have you spent the afternoon at the park or at a toddler group and by home time your little one is waving goodbye to their new friend?

Do not be put under pressure and made to feel guilty by the school nursery using the words ‘make friends’.

Think about it! How many ‘friends’ did your child have when they first started at nursery? Look at them now!

Children will always make friends!

The transistion year at nursery is so important - at The Old School House we form buddy groups, work closely or building strong, confident learners and of course work closely with school.

Q: So, what are the benefits of continuing with my child’s early year’s education at Nursery

A: Your child is settled.

The staff are fully qualified in ‘early years’ and understand the importance of the EYFS ethos of Learning through play.

Ask the school nursery these questions before deciding:-

What is the ratio of staff to children?

Will my child receive toileting assistance if needed?

What if a child has a toileting accident? Who will help them and how many staff will be left with the other children in the classroom?

What are the staff qualifications/training in early years

Are the staff in the school nursery classroom first aid trained/qualified?

Does the school nursery have a suitable environment and equipment available for children who are three and four?

What percentage of their teaching is Child Led.

Q: The school are already putting pressure on me to move my child from Nursery to their school Nursery saying if I don’t, they cannot guarantee my child will receive a place in that school?

A: This is not true.

Do not be put under pressure by schools to move your child – many schools have been misinforming parents for years that this would secure their place in their school. We have had meetings with East Riding Council who have made it very clear that just because a child attends a school nursery does not guarantee them a place at that school.

Its not the school who decide, it’s the local authority! They have asked providers to whistleblow any school that puts pressure on families for their child to start school early.

At my setting it is years of child-directed play, discovery and exploration. What is happening in your school/school nursery?

Some children are not emotionally ready for school nursery environment so maybe think carefully before making your decision.

Finally and most importantly you will never hear us use the words - School Readiness. This is something we do not work towards, instead we make the children who attend our setting ready for life.

You need to consider whether the school Nursery is ready for your child, not whether your child is ready for school Nursery.

Your child 's early years are the most important time in their lives and they should be given time and support through these in a loving and caring environment . You do not need to rush into sending them to school early if you dont feel they are ready. The choice should always be yours and what is right for your family.

Sally x

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