Should I Send My Child to Nursery?
A guide from a parent’s perspective for other parents thinking about sending their child to nursery
Should I Send My Child to Nursery?
As a parent myself, I have been faced with the recurring questions that many of you will be asking yourselves.
“Should I send my child to a nursery?”
“At what age is the right age for my child to go to a nursery?”
“Would my child be better off at home than at a nursery?”
I think, even for those of us whose children are already attending a nursery, parents still doubt ourselves and question whether we have made the right decision. I put it down to that usual ‘mum/dad guilt’ that comes with the territory of parenting.
It is helpful for parents; however, to understand the value that nursery experiences can bring to your child, and could be a deciding factor for you.
I’ve written this guide based on my experience of my son attending a nursery, what life is like through his eyes, and my professional experience from working in the early years’ sector.
Please keep in mind, the choices you make are your own and are incredibly personal. My words are not here to persuade you but to offer you the perspective of a fellow parent who has gone through this process.
What Are the Benefits of a Nursery?
Many parents, myself included, have selected a nursery as a practical solution to childcare upon returning to work. But how many parents choose a nursery based on the learning experiences and broader benefits that nursery offer?
As a parent, our priority is our children’s happiness. Finding a nursery where staff will care for and nurture your child’s development as an extension from the home environment is critical. However, what nurseries can offer extends to a much broader level than primary care.
In the twelve months that my son has been at nursery, I have seen profound changes in him and his development, including:
- Increased confidence;
- Considerable progress in his speech;
- The ability to socialise with other children;
- Increased independence; and
- A greater understanding of rules and boundaries
Some parents will argue that these things can be taught and nurtured in the home environment, and I agree. As parents, we are our child’s first educators. However, giving children opportunities to practice and develop their skills outside the home only serves to embed these skills further.
What Do Children Do All Day at Nursery?
The experiences which children gain from being at a nursery correlates with two things:
- The age and developmental stage of the child; and
- The number of sessions or days the child attends a nursery or pre-school.
Day nurseries offer incredible experiences which support learning and development for young babies right up to pre-school children.
For the youngest children at Tommies Childcare nurseries, forming unique relationships which babies need are crucial and act as the foundation for future experiences.
As children continue to grow during their time at their nursery, more structured activities are introduced. These activities enable children to think strategically, understand the world around them, and use language more broadly.
Let’s not forget about the practical skills as well. Practical skills are also developed and nurtured within a nursery setting, such as:
- Sitting down at a table to eat with their peers at mealtimes;
- Washing their hands independently;
- Putting their coats and shoes on;
- Making choices about the activities they participate in; and
- Socialising with other children of their age
I have seen the above benefits emerging in my son. I have been amazed at how much has become embedded in my child’s knowledge.
It’s important to understand that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which is the curriculum for children under 5, is focussed on play-based learning. Children learn and develop at a far quicker pace when they engage in activities which genuinely interest them.
Parents ask us, particularly when children reach three years old if we start to teach in a more formalised way. There is almost an expectation that young children ought to be writing, recognising letters, and reading. While we understand that these skills are important, it’s essential to remember that these children have a tiny window of time before entering formal education, where they will remain for the rest of their childhood. That’s why, at our nurseries, we encourage children to be curious, to explore, and grow through play. Children should be allowed to follow their interests and be fully engaged in the experiences offered to them.
The Benefits of Outdoor Play
In today’s world, children spend around half the time their parents did playing outside. The decline in outdoor play is due to changes in our society, such as increased working hours and the general busyness which often takes over our lives, coupled with the number of time children now spend in front of a screen.
The NHS recommends that children under 5 spend at least 3 hours per day being physically active, most of which would typically take place in the outdoor environment. Nurseries provide children with the opportunity to access the outdoors every day. Outdoor activities allow children to experience different weather conditions, explore nature, and learn about the world around them in a way that can’t be achieved indoors.
I believe that access to the outdoors is crucial, not only for my son but for every child. My little boy comes alive when he’s outdoors and would spend the whole day outside if he could.
Did you know? As part of the Tommies Childcare Guarantee, we are committed to allowing children to spend time outside every single day for a sufficient amount of time.
My Final Thoughts
When you decide to send your child to a nursery, at whatever age that may be, the amount of time they will spend there, and the type of day nursery you choose will ultimately be your decision. However, I can say with confidence that even at 20 months old, the relationships that my little boy has formed with other children and the staff at his nursery are crucially important to him. They have become a constant in his world, and he looks forward to seeing them every week.
I am so glad that I made a choice to send him to a nursery as an extension of his home life and can see the benefits this has had for him.
Hopefully, my ‘pearls of wisdom’ have been of some use to you; however, if you are still deliberating about a nursery or if you have any questions, you’re welcome to get in touch with us.