Ahead of the class

I know we live in a smaller part of the world , where life is not as hectic and fast paced and cut throat. I nannied in London where things in the child rearing world was very competitive. Trust me, you had to go to the right class, enrolled in the right preschool and school. Do the right clubs and be invited to the right houses.

What was right to each individual family was different, so it was funny to go from job to job and see different perspectives on what they wanted for their kids. But the school thing wasn't just about being seen at the right school gate. It was about the ever increasing population and actually getting a place at any school! No matter what social economic bracket you fall in to there is competition to get a school place. It hits our news every September that children are being sent miles to a school because the one on the corner is full. It's a topic of conversation for parents everywhere to making sure they attend the open days and getting info on the feeder preschools , etc.

The reason Im highlighting this is not because I think you need to run in to your chosen school on the day of your Childs birth and get them down. Although I actually had to do this with one job and she was the last child taken for that year. Is that you do need to have a wee bit of forward planning. There are a lot of babies being born even day and we cant ignore the fact that there aren't enough preschools or childminders to accommodate them in the early years. I have found this no matter where you live. So here is what I have found you need to think about when you have a wee one.

Are you planning on going back to work?

If yes, then whose looking after the most precious thing ?

  • Family ?

  • Nanny/ childminder ?

  • Full time / part time ?

  • Daycare/ Kindergarten/ Preschool

  • Bit of everything, both parents do a different four day week and mother in law on Wednesdays and day care Tuesday and Thursday ?

What ever you decide , that year of maternity leave goes way too quickly and you need to have made arrangements if you need anyone outside of family, before you actually need it. Daycares , especially good ones are always in demand and usually have waiting lists . So get on it. The waiting list. Sometimes you will have to pay a deposit to show your intent. But try to get your name down or really their name down as early as you can. Its better to have place and not need it than need a place and not have it.

Childminders are always in high demand. As some offer pre school to big school pick ups so you can see your child right through from early years to school age with the one person. As an ex nanny consistency is reassuring for a Parent. They are all insured and vetted to the highest standard (or should be ) So don't worry about wanting to see all the certificates and policies when choosing who will be looking after your wee one. They’ll happily have it all available for you. You are paying so get what you need and want.

Same with preschools, if you are able to look after your wee one yourself up until they are of age but you find you both need a break or social time. Not just for your sanity but also the socialisation skills that they will learn are invaluable for preparing them for classroom life when they are school age. Then look up the local play centres that you can drop them off too and get on the waiting list or enrol them for the days that work for you . Plus it's fun and they make great crafts the can be given to Grandparents to cherish on a monthly basis They also cover all the holidays cards and do fantastic art work projects for that special present. Win win. I highly recommend popping them into a preschool for a morning or an afternoon a couple of times a week

Once they are of an age when they need to integrate slowly in to the school system, say two to three times a week for half days etc. You do need to hunt around and scout out the preschools in your area that are good for you and your child's needs.

Factor in

  • Can it be a feeder to your chosen school in later years.

  • Do they prescribe to what you have in mind for a good school and similar way of learning / teaching to you ?

  • Are there separate classes rooms or all in together ages?

  • Are there open green spaces for them or a playground on the premises or near by.

  • Potty trained , will they help or do they expect it to be done ?

  • Teacher / child ratio etc.

  • What kind of phonic teaching system do they prescribe too. Trust me it helps to know in advance as I’ve seen it change many times over. Sounding out, whole words, jolly phonics. Letter pairings, vowel sounds. Long and short.

*How you learnt isn’t how they do and it’s good to get on board with up to date thinking. Later on you’ll find this with maths. They do it a completely different way. Same answer but I can’t do my older kids homework anymore !!!

You do need to get them down on a list or a date you want them to start, so ringing and asking when you should is advisable. My wee one is only 16 months but I have her down for a place as it comes up as it could be 6 months or a years time. There is always a push to introduce themselves and an open days and walk around / visits available. So keep an eye out in local papers and hot spots like libraries and town halls etc. Go have a nosey and a tour. Ask about the place, word of mouth , previous inmates I mean occupants are always good. Government / Council or Local Education Authority have health and safety ratings and studies on all the places.

Most of all - Educate yourself as to what you want your child to get out any experience be it child minder or preschool. Open plan, focussed learning and activities, Montessori? There are many , pardon the pun schools of thought on how best to look after and educate a child in the early years. Do you care as long as they are safe, fed and having fun. I know its a bit of a weird thing to think you have to think about when your wee one is still only a wee one. But gone are the days you can rock up and start them in next week in this business. I was asked today about it and the Mum was pleased I gave her a heads up . So I thought I would do the same for you .

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