When Is It Time For Nursery School?

I can’t believe that its one day past my “babies” 16 month birthday and I have begun researching nursery schools! Initially we were adamant that we would not put Ava in nursery school till she was 2 years old so at the beginning 2012.

Then as the months started ticking over and more and more of my friends, with babies a few months older than Ava, started sending their little ones to nursery school, we started thinking that perhaps its wasn’t the worst idea in the world to send her a little earlier.  Ava turns 18 months slap bang in the middle of June, right in the middle of our freezing cold winters, so I’m loathe to even consider sending her then, given that it seems that everyone’s toddlers get sick when they first start attending nursery school. Surrounding my previously sheltered toddler with a gang of sniffing toddlers in the middle of winter just feels like I’m asking for trouble.

Now I think we’re pretty set on having her start for the final term of the year, which is end September to end November and only going in perhaps two or three mornings a week. She’ll be 22 months by then and I just know she’ll be more than ready. She’s a very curious child and has already started showing a strong independent streak but she’s also very sociable & loving. She wants to hug & kiss all the little children she comes across and seems quite taken aback when they either push her away, or hurt her. I feel that she is already started to show some signs of readiness. We do attend swimming lessons and Kinder Music once a week so she is getting a bit of external stimulation and I also try to have at least one play date a week where she can “play” with another toddler of a similar age.

But I don’t want to rush this, the time has to be perfect and the school needs to be perfect to. I have my heart set on a nursery school close to our home, it’s on the same premises & is affiliated with the church we attend, the education is also Christian based, which is important to both Walter and I as we have already started raising her with the foundation and principles of Christian values and morals and we’d like this to be carried through in her education. The pre-primary and primary school we are hoping to send her to, should we still be in SA, is also Christian based education. But we do have a few options and will only make a decision once we’ve visited all the schools.

The question really is, how do you know when they are ready for the next step?

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  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    Sounds like she is a sweetheart Sharon! I would agree with you to wait out the winter and then send her. I sent the twins in January when they just turned 2 and they were more than ready. In fact, Rachel specifically started getting very bored at home, and they both LOVE school! So ja, mine were ready towards the end of their second year, and I am glad that I kept them out as long as I did because they are exceptionally healthy kids, and even now only had a cold or 2 since starting school, whereas Danielle had a constant cold until she was 3, and she went much earlier. I wouldn’t have kept them out longer though as they are blooming now! BUT having said that it has to be the right fit but I am more than sure that you will search until you find the perfect school for her!

    April 14, 2011 at 10:54 am
  • Reply lea2109

    Bianca started when she was 4 months old, Caitlyn when she was about 20 months old (she was going to start around 3 months old, when I returned to work, but then Bianca became sick so we couldn’t risk her getting even a cold. Both of them love / loved daycare. Both of them settled quickly. And I don’t think there is a wrong / right time. It is what you feel comfortable with. One tip though, don’t make an appointment with the school you have in mind. Just arrive. this way you will get a true sense of what is happening and there is no “window dressing”. Go in the morning say around 10am or 11am, because after that it is usually lunch and nap time. This way you can see what it looks like when kids are playing, where the toys are kept, and so on. I don’t trust daycares that insist you have to make an appointment to see what they are like.

    Expect crying in the early days – because at her age there could possibly be separation anxiety even if she is quite social. Best strategy, you go there, give a kiss, a hug, tell her you will be back when she is finished playing, hand to the teacher and go. Even if she cries. Kids usually settle within 5 minutes and it is worse for the parents. If you go back and prolong the goodbye, then you make it harder and worse and always always say goodbye. Don’t sneak out.

    Sure your child will likely get colds and so on, but that does help build immunity.

    April 14, 2011 at 10:59 am
  • Reply zamom

    I think 2/3 mornings a week in the last term is perfect. I will probably start Ava in the 3rd term about 6 weeks after she turns 2. I will just see how it goes and if she’s not happy then I’ll wait till next year. Zoe will only be at the play school where Ava is going until the end of the year so I’d quite like Ava to start there when Zoe is still there. They’ll be in different classes but they do play together. There are only 10 – 12 in each class and both the teachers are mommies themselves and the nannies are also great so it’s very much a home away from home with the emphasis on playing.

    April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am
  • Reply suestuart

    Hi Sharon, if you’re thinking of the nursery school I think you are(won’t mention names in case you want to keep this info private) I have a friend who is a teacher there, and as far as I’m aware they only take the littlies from 2 1/2 years. Something worth checking anyway, and if you want I can find out for you. Also, they close during all school holidays, though I know that you have Loveness as a backup. Just check also if they will take her just a couple of mornings a week, I know a lot won’t. We were lucky to find somewhere that would take Katy 2 mornings a week last year, but since January she goes every morning as they are now full, and also because work pressure was getting to me and I just can’t work when Katy is awake, ie most of the time! Yes, she definitely has had more colds since starting there, and I’m no expert but I did hear that it helps build up their immune systems before starting primary school. Who knows, but I give her Creche Guard and hopefully that is also helping.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm
  • Reply darylfaure

    I’m having the exact concerns you are Sharon, and am also about to start researching playschools in the area. I’m still not certain though if I should sign Dylan up for the last term, or wait until next year. I am not convinced he is emotionally ready to start this year, but I guess I need to keep my options open. Please let me know if you get any other pearls of wisdom that might answer some of my questions.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm
  • Reply pandoragelb

    I agree that there is no right time, each child is different. You must be comfortable and feel she is ready. Of course for the ones that have gone from 4 months on it is the norm, as it is a bit easier.
    At one point my daughter would cry every afternoon when I came to fetch her, and I read somewhere that they are just happy to sea you and get a bit overwhelmed. The head the the baby care told me that often the children cry when they are left, and cry when they are fetched, aso the parents think they have been crying all day! They do usually stop as soon as you are out of sight. (I have checked!)

    April 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm
  • Reply elna3

    I am trying to answer the same question here at home. I think each child is different, so no rule will work for all. My daughter I think is not quite there yet and will be two in May (or maybe it is mom who isn’t there yet -smile).
    YOu know your child and will be a good judge if she is ready for nursery -she sounds like she might be as sociable and independant as she is.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply coachmarcia

    I’ve been thinking about this same thing – I need to blog.

    I have no doubt mine will be fine but what about me, and V (can’t afford all 3 payments because we’d like to eat too :))

    April 16, 2011 at 10:17 am
  • Reply To Love Bella

    Oh this is something that I started thinking about, about 2 months ago. I thought that perhaps we should consider it when she’s 18m old (which is at the beginning of next year), but I know deep down that we will need to guage her. And again, my ever-present worry of her being “socially dysfunctional” (due the probability of her being an only child) always lingers in my mind. And I do wonder WHEN is the right time. I want her to be able to socialise. She is in her element when surrounded by little people – but those times are few.

    April 18, 2011 at 9:39 am
  • Reply marina1605

    Hi Sharon. Every child is different, so you have to go with what you think is right for your child. Claudio is 19 months old and I think he is ready, but the creche I want him to go to {Montessori}, only take kids from 2yrs old, so I’ve booked him in for next year when he’ll be 2 yrs, 4 months old. He will definitely be more than ready then. And for now, I try and let him play with other kids as often as possible.

    April 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply orbit365

    Personally, I think that what you are doing ito playdates, Kindermusiek and Swimming is fine for now. I believe that play school should start once they are speaking reasonably fluently and are off nappies. That said, if you really want to do a play school then I would highly recommend Montessori. Just go to a Montessori play/preschool and spend some time there. You’ll see exactly what I mean.
    Good Luck with this decision.

    April 23, 2011 at 11:30 am
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