Am I in denial?
Maybe if I had another younger child, then I wouldn't be finding this so hard a decision to make, or beating myself up about it. Quite possibly the fact that I am a state-employed primary school teacher makes my indecisiveness, and eventual decision, even more difficult to understand? Surely I should be promoting the state-funded education system?
And yet I have decided to not send The Boy to state nursery come September.
When I returned to work after maternity leave, we made the decision it would only be part-time with mum looking after him when I was in school. I'm lucky that she can and I'm lucky that I don't need to work full-time. I work part-time so that I can spend time with my son and help him grow into a well-rounded, happy child. I enjoy spending time with him and want that to continue. Is that why I'm not sending him into nursery school every day in a few months time? It's one of the reasons, yes.
But there are many more.
The Boy is only just three and, although the nursery teacher (on our visit earlier in the week) was keen to point out that they will all be in the same boat, I feel that he's very young to go to an educational establishment every weekday. And with state education you have no choice; I can't keep him off just because I might want to go to the beach with him that day. This is my son who still sleeps for an hour and a half every afternoon; he just wouldn't cope with five half days in nursery. Building up his tolerance slowly in private nursery will mean he can adapt much better with the transition to Reception (without the six week Summer holiday spoiling the routine).
He's going to be in school until he's 18, I'm in no rush to push him into it. I'm fortunate that I am a qualified nursery nurse (specialising in play as a part of a child's development) and a primary school teacher, my husband is intelligent and hands-on; The Boy is going to pass all of his baseline assessments without any problems. (He actually already has done: he spent some time in my school nursery recently when I had to go in for a meeting, and they passed him on everything). I want him to be a little boy for as long as he can, I think children grow up too quickly nowadays.
There's also the fact that he has had two changes already; playgroup in January for the first time and now this nursery in April (I overheard him singing "Jesus' Love Is Very Wonderful" in the dining room one day so we found a new place sharpish) and I don't want to get him even more confused by it. It's not fair to him when he's trying to form friendships, to chop and change him.
The new state nursery would be lovely! Recently extended, there are two distinct areas inside for the children to work in with a good IT provision as well as imaginative play, a covered outdoor area and a beautiful playground with a straw/mud hut, wendy houses, climbing frames, allotments and a rope swing. It seemed perfect until I saw that there were two parents of children I've taught there, and suddenly I felt uneasy. Maybe it's something I need to learn to deal with: I live and work in my hometown after all, but this felt a little different.
The private nursery though feels 'right'. It's more homely, the nursery nurses are referred to by their first names, it's less formal and more relaxed. It follows exactly the same curriculum as the state nursery, but the staff: child ratio is actually lower, giving them more support and attention. There also aren't any ties in the private nursery and it makes me feel more comfortable.
There's also the practical aspect to consider. State nursery is 12.45-3.15 (don't even get me started on it being an afternoon slot, when will he nap?) which would rely on my mum taking him and picking him up, and her not having much time in between to do anything. However in the private nursery we can drop him off from 7.30 (we don't take him until 9 though), he eats lunch there and then I pick him up after work at 1pm. It's far more convenient.
And the final point is that Mr. TBaM changed his job at the time that we put The Boy into the private nursery, one of the perks of it is a contribution to childcare costs, enough for two sessions a week.
This means that come September The Boy will have two full days with me where we will go to a toddler group coffee session or Under-Fives playgroup on one day and Tumble Tots on the other, a whole day with my mum, two mornings in private nursery, one afternoon with mum and one afternoon with me. He's certainly going to have a busy time throughout the week, with plenty of time for fun and games with friends and family.
Have any of you not sent your little ones to state nursery?
What do you think about the age that they start school?