11 April 2014

Preschool for 3/4 year old

| salixpendula
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We have just arrived from London and I am trying to arrange schooling for my children. The 6 year old is all sorted and will be starting primary at the Easter break. However, we also have a 3 year old who will be 4 in June. She started at Nursery School (the equivalent of Preschool) in London last Sept (2013) and was both loving it and showing herself to be quite bright, easily keeping up with the older children in her year. Were we to have stayed in London she would be starting Reception, the equivalent of Kinder, this September coming. As a result of the 30 April birthday cut off in the ACT she is only eligible to start preschool next January (2015) and Kinder in 2016. I have discussed this with her London Nursery School teacher who thinks it would be a real shame to keep her back this long as she was doing so well. However, our preferred primary school, which is the one her brother is attending, is a little reluctant, advising against staying her too early whilst ‘respecting our decision’ of we decide to apply for early entry.

Has anyone been through this situation? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.

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salixpendula10:03 am 13 Apr 14

Thank you all for your helpful and thoughtful comments. I don’t want to push her as such, I guess I just find it startling that there is such a big difference between the path she was on which seemed to work well for her and the ACT system. For the time being we don’t need childcare as such but I am keen to settle her into a setting with some structure as she has so obviously benefited from this previously. I really don’t want to be ‘that’ parent who proceeds ignoring the needs of the child and the advice of educators. I am familiar with the research about age and commencing formal education, there are, however a number of issues with that research one is that the effects are much more marked in boys and the other, more concerning, is that you have to factor in the social and cultural factors of the entire education system. Therefore unless we are replicating the entire Swedish system it is difficult to attain the same outcome on the basis of one factor, ie starting age. Elsewhere, including in the Montessori method, a nurturing and child led approach to early education has demonstrated real success . Unfortunately we didn’t think the Yarralumla Montessori, which is nearby, was the right setting for us. I will be l looking at some private pre-scoools this week but i cant really get a sense of how close the government preschools are in terms of structure to the Nursery school in the UK.

Thanks also for the welcomes. I lived in Canberra for 7 months 12 years ago and we liked it enough to come back, but I didn’t remember how beautiful it is nor did it have quite the sophistication it seems to have now. We are really pleased to be here.

Madam Cholet7:09 am 13 Apr 14

I searched for Possums Playschool (as an example to work out where all these places fit in the whole picture), on the ACECQA and it did not come up as a registered provider. Unless they have another name, they are not registered there. If that matters, I don’t know as child care and pre school are not mandatory, however it may mean that their program may not comply with the early learning years framework which connects programs run in day care to pre school and beyond. It also means the government has official oversight of their compliance levels. Not sure how they are monitored otherwise.

They also don’t seem to be registered on the ACT site either.

I’m not suggesting that any of the other options out there are wrong and of course it is what you are comfortable with for your child – you could keep them at home if you want because none if it is mandatory – but if you really want to find out about education for your children in Australia, you should look up the Federal and Government policies and find out what they say and why they say it before making a choice.

Hello, and welcome to Canberra! I have May and June children aged 3 & 5 so we also miss the ACT cutoff for school.

The ACT has many ‘playschool’ programs. We have attended one for both our children. They take them as 3 year olds and do a year of ‘pre preschool’ teaching before they go to preschool as 4 year olds. It is not childcare and is much more intense than being placed in the preschool room at a childcare centre.

Just google ‘playschool’ and hopefully you’ll find one near you.

Madam Cholet said :

It’s my understanding that under the new framework all childcare has to have highly qualified staff to run the individual rooms. So the play school you talk about may just be good at adhering to the new regs.

It’s not really anything like a childcare centre. It’s for children 3 years old – there are no babies or kids over 3, but kids who turn 4 during the year are able to stay until they begin pre-school. Kids can stay for full school days, or half days, but the hours are very much pre-school like. At the playschool our boy went to, there is only one class at any time.

Our boy went to playschool two days a week, and to a normal childcare two days a week. He thrived in the playschool environment, but didn’t really look forward to the days at childcare.

The other difference was that the playschool was only recognised as an accredited childcare provider, whereas the normal childcare was a registered provider (I may have that backwards!) So while we could get half our fees back for childcare, it was only worth a few bucks a week in refunds from the playschool (we didn’t even bother).

Madam Cholet5:35 am 12 Apr 14

It’s my understanding that under the new framework all childcare has to have highly qualified staff to run the individual rooms. So the play school you talk about may just be good at adhering to the new regs.

I don’t know which part of Canberra you are in, but we sent our 3yo boy to Possums Playschool in Higgins. It’s not pre-school, and it’s not Government funded, but was run by pre-school teachers and assistants, and very much in a pre-school type of environment.

Our boy thrived there, and absolutely loved it. It’s completely different to child care – much more structured.

I’m sure there would be other places like this around Canberra, so that could be an alternative you could look into if you decide not to push for your girl.

Both our kids are May babies. We probably could have pushed to get them in early but saw no point in rushing them. Some of the younger kids in their classes look to struggle a bit when it comes to the physical/sporting aspect and have to work a bit harder to keep up with the intellectual side as well. Once they’re over 10 I don’t see it would be as much a problem, but those earlier years the 1 year difference is much wider and it’s no fun being the runt of the litter.

The other aspect to consider is later teenage years, where your child becomes the last of their social group to get their licence, get a car, be of legal drinking age. That’s not something to look forward to either.

Madam Cholet8:29 pm 11 Apr 14

And BTW, welcome to Canberra. It’s better than anywhere else….

Madam Cholet8:20 pm 11 Apr 14

I’m originally from the UK and started proper school at 4 years of age in the 70s. Back then they didn’t have such rules and I ended up always being young for my year. I left school at the age of 15, went to art school and had a whale of a time. I’m no idiot and get along quite well as a Senior manager these days, but I suspect I may have done even better if I had not been thrown into school so young.

I have a five year old whose birthday is in August, so he is victim to the April cut-off. He started pre-school at 4 and Kindy at 5. Whilst I was a bit dismayed about his ‘late start’, I have since realised that it’s not a bad thing at all.

We all go around thinking our kids are great and able to keep up with kids older than them, and they may we’ll be able to, but whether they need to be doing this is another question. They may be as bright as all get out for their age, but maturity and ability to cope is another thing.

All child care in australia, as in other countries I suppose must follow the early learning years framework, which is great prep for school. At daycare my son at 3 and 4 was being taught spanish and cooking, letters, numbers and all sorts of wonderful things – it’s not just set and forget these days.

My advice would be to not stress about your child’s schooling at this stage. Try to get into a good childcare centre which has a big focus on the education framework and sit out the time until pre-school is available. If your child is bright etc etc, the. She will still flourish as if she was with older kids. Research shows that the best time for kids to commence ‘big school’ is at 5 not 4.

My experience of pre-school in Canberra is fabulous. My son goes to an Early Childhood School – a few of which are dotted around Canberra. They only go to year 2, which again has been shown as the best time to transition to their next school – at which they may stay until they leave school altogether.

It took me sometime to get over my English sensibilities and I still hang on to some of it for sentimental reasons, but 20 years later, I have embraced Australia….well sort of!! Really, you need to just go with the flow.

The French-Australian pre school will take them from 3 years but it isn’t govt run so I assume fee paying.

morethanmumma8:11 pm 11 Apr 14

It’s really hard to get around school systems in new countries or states and made harder here by NSW being so close and completely different! There seems to have been a lot of studies done lately indicating that kids are better off when they start formal education later and as much as your daughter might be bright and capable, the part she may struggle with is the social dynamics with older kids – particularly as they all get older. My eldest is a June baby and when we moved here I was ready to get her into pre-school early as she had been in organised schooling previously. But, after a few months here I found she was OK in the nursery pre-school program and is now very happy and easily settled into pre school in her right year group. There is a big gap emotionally between the eldest and youngest in her class and the younger ones do seem to find it all a bit harder. I am now thinking that my youngest son (who is a March baby) will probably start late as many kids in the March/April bracket seem to be held back and thrive. For me, I would suggest holding fire for a bit to see how she adjusts. Find a really good nursery with a pre school program and then put her into pre school with her proper age group. Good luck with it all and welcome to Canberra!!

I thought that to get early entry you had to undergo an expensive process to prove the child is gifted, involving iq tests and psychologists etc.

Possibly this is different if you have already started school interstate or overseas.

In NSW she would be old enough for preschool, but they don’t have as much availability of funded preschool as we do in the ACT so it probably wouldn’t help you to look for a place there anyway.

DeadlySchnauzer3:51 pm 11 Apr 14

There are a couple of younger kids at our local Preschool that exceptions were made for due to similar circumstances. I think it’s actually quite common because even just within Australia each state has different cut off dates for preschool/kinder… so just moving a few kms from Queanbeyan to ACT can leave you in the same situation.

It sounds like the school is just trying to absolve itself of any blame for the decision. If you think it’s right for you, then keep hassling them until they admit her!!

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