Last week I wrote about the effort we put into choosing the right childcare for the Little Chap and mentioned that we were recently a bit gutted that it wasn’t really working out for us.
So where did it all go wrong?
Well, key workers came and went, the manager left, other parents voiced their own concerns but we could see the Little Chap was happy enough so weren’t overly concerned. Then we had to notify the staff that another of their charges had bitten our son (full set of teeth) – note they didn’t notify us because they hadn’t noticed…! They said they’d monitor it and there was no more biting but more recently, now the Little Chap can say more, he’s voiced complaint that this child has kicked/pushed/snatched from him.
When I asked, it appeared the pre-school teacher’s solution was tell the picked on toddler to say “so sad”. Yes, you read that right – not “No” or “Stop” or even “Please don’t” – all simple and effective phrases even novice speakers can get their tongues around! I get that my suggestions are negative commands but they weren’t even suggesting “leave me alone”, “go away” or “get off me” all good, positive, assertive suggestions to bullies that they might like to focus their energy on something more constructive. Can you imagine how much fun the school bully boy will have when our Little Chap says “so sad” to try and stop any rough stuff? Oh my…!
The pre-school room he moved up to in January should, I think, have embodied relative calm, as they spend more time teaching the now three and four year old children good behaviour as well as giving them a taste of more structured learning (phonics, counting) in preparation for Reception and Year 1. Instead, the teachers were more relaxed, overly friendly with the children and the room was a tip – nothing was labelled and loads of toys were broken, books were torn and displays were falling off walls. The two year olds were doing better!
This was no longer an atmosphere I felt comfortable leaving our son in 25hrs a week, much less paying more per hour for than we will be in September when he starts at a local prep school nursery. Then to cap it all off, the nursery staff dropped his nap without discussing it with us. This, just the week after his previous key worker told me it would be fine for him to continue having a 45-minute cat nap after lunch if we wished.
Finally, I arrived one evening to be told they’d had to have serious words with him about not listening because, unsupervised, our Little Chap had left the classroom as a parent opened the door to collect their child at lunchtime. He was retrieved safely (the next door a parent might open for him being the front door to the main road – access to which is further prevented by a latched gate, which is almost always left open…). This made me seriously question that the staff ratio was appropriate for the 16+ children in his room that day. My concern was that in a room full of 16 kids and two staff, with no toilet facilities within it, how do they manage to maintain ratios when one child needs to be taken to the toilet in the room across the corridor? Do they take all eight kids following like ducklings or are the ratios screwed..?
So we booked an appointment with the Manager and went to Ofsted to gen up on ratios so we wouldn’t be bamboozled. Imagine our horror when we found no less than four complaints investigated and reported by Ofsted in the last year. Antibacterial spray left in the kids’ reach, small toys on the floor for babies to choke on, not having a fire evacuation route for baby room on first floor and not properly keeping CRB registration docs for all staff. That kind of sealed the deal as looking around there were plenty of good nurseries, similarly accredited but without anyone feeling the need to complain!
At the end of the day we took the brave and difficult decision to think of our son’s long term gain from short term pain. Never an easy thing to do when that innocent little face is looking up at you adoringly and asking “When will I see my friend M from nursery again Mummy…?” Once our gut feelings had switched from doubtful to downright horrified we knew we had to act fast to minimise any trauma of settling into a new setting.
One month in and I’m pleased to say that we’re both very happy with the new nursery we have chosen. The Little Chap has brought home cakes, three times as much artwork and new songs to learn for their “graduation” ceremony. He talks about stories he’s been read and the learning room he’s visited, the friends he’s making and the running around and playing he’s getting up to. He’s got much more assertive at sending me off to work when we get there too – just day four and he was running off with his NBF with a cheery wave and a “Have a nice day Mummy“. I could not be more thrilled for him or proud of him.
My top tip for choosing and keeping a nursery? Trust your gut and if it stops feeling right, find somewhere that does as fast as you can. If nothing else, you’ll be able to sleep at night.
Have you had worries or concerns about your childcare? What did/are you planning to do about them?
© Mayfair Mum, 2012