Gracie had her last day at nursery last week – where has the time gone? One minute she could barely fit in a ‘first size’ sleep suit and the next we were school uniform shopping. I am genuinely so glad we sent her to nursery. I have written before about whether Nursery was the right place for Gracie and it most definitely was. Mummy Hew and I weighed up whether it would be better for one of us to give up work and be a Stay At Home Mum or Dad, we considered whether we should send Gracie to a childminder or whether we should have a nanny at home. The selling point of sending Gracie to nursery for us was that there was a was a whole team of people to rely on, rather than one carer. We also wanted her to be able to mix with kids her own age and spend time playing with her peers – we wouldn’t be able to do that at home, no matter how many groups we took her to.
It was clear to us that going to nursery as going to be the best place for Gracie, we just needed to find the right one. We only actually looked round three nurseries. The first we looked at we quite liked. It was run by a Spanish lady and the nursery encouraged Spanish cuisine on the menu and they taught the kids very basic Spanish – there was also a few farm animals on site. It felt a little bit dated and was slightly out of the way for us so decided it wasn’t the one. The second nursery we looked at we really disliked. As soon as we walked in we knew it wasn’t the nursery for us. It was right next to a main road, the garden space was crap and staff didn’t feel very welcoming. It was a strange feeling, I remember walking out and saying to Mummy Hew ‘I don’t like that place’ but couldn’t really articulate why. It was just a feeling I had, I didn’t like it. You should always trust your gut instinct, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
The nursery we chose was the closest to home out of the three we looked at – a big selling point. It meant that on the days I worked from home I was able to walk Gracie to and from nursery. I quite enjoyed our walks and chatting about what we had been up to or what we could see around us. The nursery was split into three rooms, babies up to 2 years, toddlers 2 to 3 years and 3 to 5 years. It had a real homely feel about it. The staff were friendly. There was a garden for each of the rooms. The baby room was the selling point for us, it was full of sensory play, bright colours, numbers, letters and Gracie would have her own cot – for us it was the perfect choice.
As Gracie has now finished nursery we were given copies of her learning journals. It was really nice to spend some time reminiscing on what she had been up to. I thought I would share our experience of each of the rooms Gracie was in and some of the things she got up to.
Gracie’s last day at nursery
Gracie started her nursery journey when she was 13 months old. I remember her first day like it was yesterday. She trotted in and never looked back. I thought I would be a bit more emotional than I was, but it was pretty transactional. I gave them my child and a fat pay cheque and they fed, watered and changed her bum.
If there was one thing we were never happy about it was the menu. We considered sending Gracie in with food from home but there are only so many hours in the day and no matter how instagramable your family are, I challenge you to work full time and prepare three meals to send to nursery with your child. I mean don’t get me wrong, I like a chocolate gateaux as much as the next man but my 13 month old child most definitely does not. I was tasked with speaking to the nursery about their menu choices, and thats exactly what I did. I asked them not it give Gracie pudding, explaining that I didn’t think a one year old needed artic role after their chicken dinosaurs – honestly it was so crap. I even suggested that instead of chocolate biscuits as a snack they could try humous and vegetable sticks – I’m no Jamie Oliver but I reckon I’m pretty clued up on the right and wrong things to give a baby. Anyway, after a few complaints and gentle encouragement the menu was updated and my feedback was taken on board. Im sure I’m not the only parent to complain, but I am probably the only one who complained every day.
When Gracie started nursery we really saw a huge step in her development. Her speech moved at a pace of knots, she started walking – we missed her first steps, she bonded with her peers and began to really stand up for herself. She made a close circle of friends who remained by her side until she left nursery last week. She had a number of ‘firsts’ at nursery that we missed out on, but i’m glad I missed out on her first love bite – her cheeky little friend planted a hickey right on her forehead….little bastard.
I really enjoyed reading though her journal from the baby room, it took me right back and reminded me just how far she has come. Below are just some on the comments in her journal that I particularly enjoyed reading:
’21 October 2015 – Daddy told the girls at nursery that I took my first steps at Marge’s house’
‘Gracie was sat in the light cube, watching the lights and refused to remove her hand from inside her nappy’
’28 October 2015 – Gracie crawled over to me and took both of my hands and began to rock forwards and backwards until I said Row Row your boat’
’13 November 2015 – I asked Gracie where Daddy was and she held her hands out and looked around for him’
’10 December 2015 – Gracie saw a duck on the television and shouted Duck several times’
’16 December 2015 – Gracie is a very happy and confident child. Her most common word is Dadda’
‘3 February 2015 – I asked Gracie what was wrong and she pointed to her nappy. I checked her nappy and she had done a poo’
’24 February 2015 – Gracie knew were all her body parts where when she was asked’
’14 April 2015 – Gracie’s Mummy told me that Gracie got her own nappy out and a wipe and wiped her dolls bottom’
’10 May 2015 – Gracie came to the bathroom to wash her hands for breakfast and brought a doll with her. She put the dolls hands under the sink to wash them and then dried them on a paper towel’
‘5 July 2015 – Gracie sat the doll on the toy potty and said Baby Wee Wee’
Gracie was moved to the toddler room when she turned 2! I remember her being quite vocal about her move to the toddler room. She told us that she had visited and spent the afternoon in the new room before she moved up.
It was quite a big change going into the toddler room, Gracie was transitioning out of naps and wanted to spend more time playing with her friends. The days in the toddler room were more structured and the toddlers were encouraged to engage in more demanding activities. Gracie was encouraged to count and started to recognise letters. She was a lover of role play and began developing her skills to play different roles. Gracie’s cheeky side shone though, it was clear that if she didn’t want to do something she would find something more exciting to do.
During her time in the toddler room Gracie began to recognise shapes, animals, sounds and was very confident at speaking. She would chatter to Mummy Hew and I for hours about what she had been up to and what friends she played with. It was evident she had a best friend and spoke about her all the time. Even at the weekends Gracie would talk about what she was up to at nursery and really looked forward to Monday mornings – it was really sweet to watch and made it much easier for Mummy Hew and I knowing she was enjoying herself.
Gracie really started to grow up in the toddler room, she stopped having and afternoon nap, she was confident with her peers – she started having tantrums when she didn’t want to do something. We had to introduce the naughty step at home, although whenever we mentioned that Gracie has been naughty at home the nursery staff couldn’t believed us. They told us that she was always really well behaved. She even corrected one of the staff when she said ‘water’ incorrectly – ‘its got a T in it, you’re not common’ I found it hysterical when we picked her up, Mummy Hew wanted the ground to swallow her up.
Gracie’s journal from the toddler room was slightly different, there were less comments that she had made and more about her development, below are a few of my favourites:
‘November 2016 – Gracie is playing with the lego, she holds up the green lego and says Green. I then ask Gracie where the blue, pink, yellow and purple lego are and she picks them all out correctly’
‘January 2017 – For lunch today Gracie had Tuna, sweetcorn and pasta, Later in the day she was playing with a doll and sat her doll at the table. Gracie says ‘she’s having lunch’ I asked her what her dolls was having and Gracie said ‘ Tuna, Pasta and sweetcorn’ Gracie enjoys role playing with her dolls’
‘January 2017 – Gracie is getting ready to go outside. She puts her coat on all by herself, it is upside down. Gracie is really proud of herself. Well done Gracie’
‘April 2017 – Gracie is playing with the computer, she looks at me and says ‘this is my iPod’ and turns it on’
‘April 2017 – Gracie is wearing a pair of dungarees and her key worker says ‘I like your dungarees, can I have them?’ Gracie says ‘No! I buy you bigger ones’
‘June 2017 – Gracie has been using the potty for a few weeks and is doing really well. She knows when she needs it and happily tells the staff when she needs to go’
Mummy Hew and I found the transition into the toddler room harder than Gracie. The atmosphere was totally different. The staff, although still friendly, were a bit stiff. In the baby room and toddler room they came across really caring, even if they didn’t give a shit about what Gracie had been doing in the evening and weekends. The staff in the Pre-school were definitely more firm. Gracie warmed to one of the staff particularly but wasn’t really fussed about the others. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with them, they just weren’t as compassionate as some of the other staff Gracie had been looked after by.
The toddler room was designed to help transition them into school – but it just came across like really lazy parenting. After lunch and dinner was TV time. An hour after each meal. This was so the staff could clear up after the meal, to me it was just lazy to dump them in front of the tele. Gracie loved it, especially as she doesn’t really watch the tele at home. I just think they could have used that time more valuably.
Life was far from perfect in the toddler room – I wrote about the guilt I had in my earlier blog post To Icelolly or not to Icelolly Gracie was quite happy in the main, and that was the most important thing. There was an occasion I considered moving her in the last 6 months or so. She was far too settled and it wouldn’t have been fair.
Gracie’s journal changed again in the preschool room. It was much more formal. The journal was written more like a school report rather than snippets of things she had been doing or saying. The main feedback Gracie was given in the preschool room was that she wouldn’t use her pincer grip…..ever. She still doesn’t now. She is quite lazy when it comes to drawing and writing, school will have their work cut out!
It was difficult to pick out commentary from her preschool journal but my favourite moment is below:
I went to pick Gracie up and her key worker asked to speak to me. She told me that she noticed that every time the ‘tidy up’ song came on Gracie would go to the toilet. After a few days her key worker asked if she was OK as she was in the toilet again Gracie replied ‘Yeah, I’m fine, I don’t like tidying so I’m pretending to have a wee’
Overall our experience of nurse was really positive. Gracie thrived and we hope that Henry will too. if you take one thing any from reading this blog remember, your are the parent, they are your child, your choice is the right choice! If you are not happy with something your childcare provider is doing, tell them! They can’t refuse, its your child and they have to do as you wish!