Saturday, 24 August 2013

going to nursery

The time has come for my littlest one to start out her schooling career by going to nursery.

In Scotland, from the age of three, children can attend nursery every week day for 2.5 hours.  In England I think it's 3 hours, and from age 2.5.  So that's not confusing at all.

Of course, the little girl is my baby, and I have noticed that I do do more for her, and let her get away with more than I did for her older brother and sister.  She'd also told me that she wasn't going to go to nursery.  

But I didn't believe her.

When this little guy started nursery at 2 1/2 he had a little cry, but it was just a Mummy show - he'd cry while I was there, but after I'd gone he'd get on with having a good time (mainly with dinosaurs).  All good.  He had a voracious appetite for learning, so we moved him to a more academically focused nursery at 3 1/2.  Again, he did a little Mummy show, but he settled in well, and we started to 'enjoy' the wonders of Biff, Chip, and Kipper (anyone else hate Biff, Chip, and Kipper?).

The big girl also started nursery at 2 1/2, because we were in England.  Unfortunately the local nursery (which we'd put her on the list for when she was a few days old) didn't have a place for her, and neglected to tell me that until two weeks before she was due to start!  To be honest, the only member of staff I'd thought much of (and she was fantastic) had left when the boy left, and I didn't think much of how it was run, so rather than wait, I looked around.  Most places with that much notice were full, but there was one, twenty minutes away in the car, which was lovely, and which had a place, for two mornings a week.  I took it, and she started there.  It was hard for her.  She
didn't know any of the children there, but it was a fantastic place, with great staff.  They took her blackberrying, they did woodwork, they went to a bacon shop to see how they prepared the bacon.  She helped make lunch, and she sat down with the other children, and ate it.  But she didn't leave the side of the woman who ran the place.  We came to the conclusion she wasn't really ready, so when we moved to Scotland, we were happy that she was too young to start all over again.  It was good to go back to toddler groups and get to know some people before she started.  When she started at the new nursery she was happy and confident and wanting to go from day one.  She did great.


So this last week saw the first day of nursery for the little girl.  She said she didn't want to go, so I steeled myself for the Mummy show.  I would stay bright and breezy, she would have a lovely time, and all would be well.  She got dressed without a problem, and went to school OK, but after we'd dropped the big kids off she got very clingy.  Along with the other parents of newbies, I came into nursery with her, to get her settled.  Other children had a wee cry, and then got busy, and their parents departed.  I was the last Mum standing.

She got more and more distressed, and I couldn't get her to get involved in anything.  Thinking that I was the problem I hatched a plan with the teacher.  I would pass her over and wait in the cloakroom.  We did that.  I sat and listened to her screaming, sobbing, gasping for breath.  Saying over and over I - want - to - go - home.  I tried hard not to cry.  I failed.  But I wiped the tears away, I didn't know when I'd be needed.  After about ten minutes, the teacher brought the little girl to the door.  She didn't want her to get more upset, and she was starting to upset the other children, so it was time for her to go home for today, but she'd see us tomorrow.  

Kenny thought he could get her settled more easily than me, so he took her the next day, but the same thing happened, and we took her home.  The teacher asked her to bring her favourite toy to show her the following day.

So with a heavy heart I took her again the following morning.  This time she'd refused to wear the school clothes, but she was happy to be taking her favourite horse to show the teacher.  I went in with her, and we talked with the teacher about horses.  She didn't want to get involved again, but the teacher found some other horses, and gradually got the little girl involved with setting up a field, a stable, a farm.  Another girl came to play, and then some boys.  The little girl let other children play with her horse.  Then she wondered if the teacher would get the castle out to play with.  She did.  With the little girl's help.  I stayed, but I was on the other side of the room by now.  She had a few wobbles, but the teacher was very kind, relaxed, and flexible, and the little girl managed to stay for the whole of the session.  Result.

It's going to be harder than I'm used to, and I'm going to worry more than I thought, but we'll get there.

How well did your kids settle at nursery?  Do you have any tips for helping to make the transition easier?

Update

It took almost three weeks of my staying at nursery initially, and then spending longer and longer each day in the parents room, while the little girl built up her relationships in nursery before she was ready, but one morning she told me to just go, and pick her up at the end. She's doing great, I'm really proud of her. As for me, I have not at any point wondered what to do with myself!