his next steps

We are in the very fortunate position 
that since our son was born
I have been able to stay at home with him.
I have relished every second with him
watching him change and grow
watching him learn new skills.
I've been there for first steps and first words
and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

But in the not too distant future
my little man will turn three.
And three is a milestone age I think,
where they leave the baby and toddler years behind
and he'll become a proper little boy.

With his third birthday,
(or rather the term after his birthday)
comes his funded childcare hours.
And while we are lucky enough not to need childcare for him
we are keen to begin preparing him for life at school,
to get him used to spending time,
making friends,
and learning new skills
away from mummy's watchful eye.

I was a reception class teacher
before I became his mummy,
so the early years curriculum isn't something which is unfamiliar to me.
I know from years of doing induction for new intake
and visiting the nurseries and preschools of our new pupils,
that while all places work to the early years foundation stage curriculum,
the provision varies massively.
The difference between a private nursery taking children from birth throughout a working day
and a preschool which only takes children for 3 hour sessions from 2 years or more 
is enormous.

For us, sending our son to a nursery or preschool
isnt about education as such.
I have no doubt he will learn lots while he is there
but I don't care whether they will help him to learn to read,
or teach him phonics and basic maths.
I can, will and am already supporting those at home myself.
I feel pretty qualified to be teaching him the foundations stages of academia.
I want to send him to nursery or preschool to learn other things,
to learn about making friends that I haven't chosen for him,
to learn how to negotiate, problem solve and share with children his own age,
to learn about communicating with adults who aren't friends or family.

We decided (I say we, it was more me and my husband simply agreed)
that a preschool setting would be more suited to him
and to our family,
than nursery provision.
We wanted the shorter session times,
the term time only attendance,
and also the structure of the sessions that preschool tends to provide.
With the way that our local authority work their reception school entries
and the knock-on effect that has on early years provision,
we were left with the decision to send him to preschool in September
either 2013 or 2014.
There was no possibility of him starting at the point where his funding kicks in,
because spaces do not become available mid year.
And with him only just two and half in September 2013,
it simply felt too early
for him and for me.
By September 2014 he will be three and a half,
and one year away from starting full time school,
so next September just feels like the right time for us as a family.

We visited four preschools all together
and were pretty amazed at how different the atmosphere was in them all.
The first two we visited on one day
and we visited the two preschools that had come highly recommended 
by local mums and friends I'd asked.
The first one my husband really liked,
but I really did not.
The second one I really liked
and my husband did not.
We started to worry that we weren't going to agree on anywhere.

We visited the third and fourth preschools on another day.
The third one seemed nice,
a sort of midway ground between the first and second ones we had seen.
We probably would have been happy enough to send him there.
But then we visited the fourth one.
And within minutes we just knew.

I couldn't tell you exactly what it was about that one preschool over the others
because it was everything and nothing that swung it for us.
We loved the environment, the staff were so warm and knowledgable,
our little man clearly felt at home as he straight away got involved in the activities going on.
I had decided really quickly that it was the one,
and as a final seal of approval,
our little man had such a lovely time
that he cried when we told him it was time to go.

I can't tell the relief it is to have our decision made
to have handed in our application
and to know that we are sending our precious boy off to a preschool
that we are 100% happy about.
I had been really anxious about him going to preschool,
but I can genuinely say now
that I just excited for him to start,
I just know he is going to love it.

Don't get me wrong,
I will definitely be one of the mummies having a big blub in the car
when I drop him off and leave him on that first morning next year.
But being confident in our decision makes that feel a lot easier.

So until then I'm going to make the most of the eight months I have left
having my little man at home with me, learning with me.
He's so incredibly interested in learning everything
that it would be impossible for me not to support that.
And I am going to relish the eight months I have left
of getting to witness every single first,
every milestone,
every new skill.
Until the day when someone else will get to witness those for me,
and I'll just get to be that ridiculously proud mummy in the playground.

The fantastic art case that the little man is using in some of these photos
was kindly sent to us by Kiddicare.
It is such a fantastic versatile toy
and is brilliant for encouraging his learning.
It comes with a magnetic board on one side
and a peg board on the other;
plus all the coloured pegs and magnetic letters and numbers you need.
I love that it folds away like a laptop
and the little guy feels so grown up when he plays with it.


  1. Glad you found somewhere you liked so much! It's tough, but by yours and his reactions sound like its the perfect place!

    1. I know I'll be a mess when the time comes, but it's lovely to know he's going somewhere we're so happy with. My hubby said he could tell instantly that it was the right place by me and the little man. x

  2. man, i wish mine were three again! nice to hear you've found somewhere where everyone is happy x

    1. There was a point that I worried we wouldn't find the right place, but so glad we did. x

  3. As you know, we ummed and aaahed and mainly due to the fact that a) the preschools we looked at didn't have afternoon sessions b) we needed childcare for school holidays too and c) we wanted to give her a bit of a gentle push into leaving us combined with the fact LL will be there with her too, we decided on nursery. Her first day was yesterday and I am so excited to see how she will learn and develop while she is there. I cried in the car mainly because I was just so damn proud of her. I will never forget it. x

    1. I know I'll be emotional, but I'm really so excited for him. I just know he's going to be so happy there. x

  4. We found pre-school to be like choosing a house to buy - you just get a feeling x

    1. That was EXACTLY what it was like. I'm so glad we kept looking and didn't just settle for one. I said after that I felt like the preschool picked us and not the other way around. x

  5. You do just 'know' don't you ;) Hope he loves it! I'm sure he will xx

    1. We did just "know" it felt so us. I'm so excited for him to start. x

  6. I'm so gad you found somewhere perfect for your perfect little man. MC did pre-school last year and loved it. She's in reception now at the same school and is top of her class. You're so right that 3 is such a milestone age. I can't believe the difference they go through between 3 and 4. MC is 5 years old in 4 months and SO grown up now *weeps* xx

    1. 3 definitely feels like a big age as it looms on the horizon. I'm so glad we found a good preschool for him as I really hope it'll give him a good grounding ready for reception the following year. x

  7. Ah that's totally how it was when we found Cherry's pre-school. We had looked at a few others, one that she liked and I didn't, one we both didn't and then this one which we both just felt was right. She started a couple of months ago and was so ready for it, she ran off on her first day and she loves her key-worker. Only annoying thing is a boy there who is causing trouble, trying to hit kids and getting the potty trained ones to wet themselves!! It's annoying and because of something that happened she has now started crying when we leave her, I'm not sure what to do to be honest but from speaking to my friends who have kids at different pre-schools you do seem to have that one naughty kid everywhere and I guess they need to learn how to deal with it. One the positive side we watched her in her first nativity today and it was just the cutest thing ever! x

    1. Its so nice when it just feels like you've found the right fit, doesn't it? Sadly I think you're right, and there are mean kids wherever you go, it's all just part of the learning process and working out how to get along with other children. Although our instincts are just to scoop them up and look after them.
      I can't wait for things like the nativity next year, and for artwork! x

  8. Dylan will be starting at the same time (although September 2014 is also when his funded hours kick in), and I know we need to start looking now but it feels so strange when he is still just my little baby! Hopefully we will just know as well

    1. It's so hard as I suspect that I'll feel like I'm handing over a baby that first day. But I know he'll flourish and be well ready by next September. x

  9. So lovely you have found one that you feel so happy with. Lucas will be starting September 2014 but he will have only turned three a few days before which makes me a little anxious! Same as you I have a background in education so I am keen for him to learn from the pre-school environment but it will be difficult to let him go, we find out if he has the place in the pre-school we wanted next week! Enjoy your last months at home with BB and what an exciting next step for him xx

    1. Oh, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that he gets his place. I sometimes think a background in education makes these sorts of things harder because you know what goes on behind the public persona and the red tape. Thats why I'm so relieved to have found somewhere I'm so happy with, I'm not sure I'd have sent him at all if I wasn't happy. ;) x

  10. Sounds great how it is all falling into place. Interesting how you say private nursery differs from pre school. While acknowledging the change it will be when he officially starts school I never thought of the time at a pre school being overally different to a private nursery. He loves going to nursery and I hope he finds it "relatively easy" when it's time to move on! I think I might check out that art case!


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