Monday, 24 September 2012

Finding The Right Nursery

Freddy is now at that age where he qualifies for 15 hours of free nursery each week. As we don't have much contact with children his own age, it is the perfect opportunity for him to mix with his peers, have fun and develop social skills.  We settled on the nursery attached to the local Infant School having attended a parent's evening where we were shown around and given information on the setting.  It looked good and they talked a good talk so we signed Freddy up to five afternoons a week.  I spent the weeks before telling Fred how great it would be with toys to play with and paintings to paint and fun to be had.

I'm not going to go into details of what went wrong, but it resulted in my outgoing 3 year old becoming hysterical at the mention of the 'n' word.  He became wary of people and really clingy, he began to stammer and his personality changed overnight.  All he remembered was that he cried there. The emphasis of the nursery seemed to be on making the kids school ready.  It enforced independence to the point of being cruel and made the children sit for prolonged periods of time.  The staff were referred to as Mrs or Miss and not by their first names.  It was formal and very structured, not warm and nurturing.   These children are still little tots who need to play and have fun. I couldn't even see any toys constantly available to them to play with at will.  No home corner.  No dressing up.  No painting.  We withdrew him from that nursery, but not before damage was done to my boy.

This was a really difficult time for me.  I felt I had failed.  Failed to give my son the tools needed to cope.  Failed to keep him happy.  Failed to do what all the the parents taking their kids to nursery were doing.  I promised Freddy it would be great and it wasn't.  I'd betrayed my son's trust. I looked at my once bubbly boy and saw a nervous wreck. It broke my heart.

It took a while before Freddy's confidence returned but he was still wary of other people.  I researched new settings for Freddy's nursery.  I found a lovely daycare centre with an Outstanding Ofsted report and went to visit with Freddy who was still very suspicious of the whole idea and clung to me like a limpet.  But I liked what I saw.

Today we took the big step of taking Freddy.  I was nervous.  I didn't talk about it until we got there when I told him we were going to visit the nice ladies that worked there.  He was reluctant but as we went in to the big, bright room he was met by Mandy who took the time to engage with him.  She told him that this was a place for laughing not crying.  She told him he could play with any of the activities at any time because this was where children learned through playing.  The structure was relaxed and friendly with staff called by their first names.  Children can wear slippers indoors if they want to.  There is an area where children can go to relax and lie down with cushions, blankets and teddies if they get tired.   Water tables, sand, paints and all the toys are constantly available.   The staff get down on the floor with the children.  As soon as I saw Mandy lying down on the floor with Freddy using torches to hunt for spiders under the cupboards I knew this was the place for him.  When they built rocket ships and blasted them off into space and Mandy landed hers on Fred's head which made him giggle, I felt confident enough to sneak out.

I waited in the car, just in case it all went wrong, but it didn't.  He had a lovely time and although he'd asked where I was, he was happy with the explanation.  He was really pleased to see me when I picked him up, greeting me with a happy smile.  He said goodbye and told Mandy he'd see her tomorrow.

The nursery have said I can be as flexible as I want with the 15 hours sending him in as I see fit without any pressure of doing the full five sessions.  They said if you get up one morning and it's sunny and you want to take him out to the park instead then go and have fun.  It's all about what is best for each child as an individual.  I love that policy!

I hope my boy will get confident with other children his own age and make friends.  I hope he will realise that it is OK for him to do his own thing away from me.  I hope he develops and grows as a little person in his own right.  I want him to be happy!

I'm still taking it one day at a time and trying not to make a big deal about it to him but I am so proud of him and so pleased that I took the time to find him somewhere new rather than dragging him to somewhere where he was not happy.  My son's happiness is paramount.  I feel like I've redeemed myself after sending him somewhere that was fundamentally wrong for him.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the week and beyond!

nursery school, Graco Nautilus
Freddy x


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