Education Quandary: 'My daughter has been looked after in a day nursery. Will she be OK when she starts school? Is there anything that I can do to help her now?'

Hilary's advice

This reader is anxious about a new book by the psychologist Oliver James which rails against children under three being left in day nurseries. Studies show, he says, that young children left in nurseries have raised levels of the "fight or flight" hormone cortisol, that these raised levels last throughout childhood, and that they lead to more aggressive and disobedient behaviour. Not only does this affect the children themselves, but also others – in the USA, researchers have found that home-reared children behave more badly in school when they are in a class with a lot of day care-reared peers.

I actually believe there is some cause for concern here, and that a home environment is by and large better for very young children. But what fundamentally matters to pre-schoolers is love, consistency and security and all these things can be provided – or not – by a parent, grandparent, childminder or attentive carers at a nursery.

Poor day care, with high child-to-adult ratios and a rapid turnover of staff, is obviously not good for young children, but nor is being at home with a depressed or lonely parent. So if this reader's daughter is happy, content and secure in her routine, she almost certainly has nothing to worry about.

In terms of helping prepare her daughter for school, this mother needs to talk to her, read to her and generally help her feel familiar with words, letters and numbers. She needs to make sure she can do practical things such as dress and undress herself and go to the lavatory unaided, and encourage her to be willing to have a go at new things without always needing help. Learning to speak up, to ask for help and say please and thank you would all be useful, and if she can also teach her how to listen – an increasingly rare skill – she'll have given her a priceless classroom asset. There is more on this in the chapter on starting school in my own parenting book, Help Your Child Succeed at School, a book designed to help parents and keep anxiety at bay!

Reader's advice

Going to nursery will have helped your daughter adapt to school. She will do much better than children who have had no experience of being in a group and playing with other children. She will know how to share and co-operate and be used to having different adults around. The children who are most clingy and find it hardest to get going in "big school" are those who have been brought up alone at home by a doting parent and never had to learn to take their place alongside other children. They often have a hard learning experience.

Joyce Partingdale, Norfolk

The way to prepare your daughter for school is to make it seem a normal next step. Don't talk it up into a big thing, or tell her how much she will love it, but make it part of everyday conversation so she gets used to the idea she will leave her nursery and move on. Over the summer you can walk her past the outside of the school and let her be part of any preparations such as buying a school uniform or sewing on name tapes.

Jill Barry, Cardiff

I believe it is criminal of so-called child-rearing experts to make parents worry about things they can't do anything about. Most of them are actually pretty dodgy, anyway, and only working out their hang-ups about their own childhoods. In their book, everything you do as a mother is always wrong, and everything that happens is always your fault. Dads are let off.

Maria Alvones, London SW1

Next week's quandary

Pupils at my son’s school help man the reception desk when they are in Year Eight. I’ve always though this was a good thing, but a group of parents in our year (Year Seven) have complained and asked me to sign a petition against it. They say it exploits pupils and takes them away from lessons.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet.com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com. They can be searched by topic.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply teaching - A great w...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Year 6 Teacher

£111 - £163 per day + £111 - £163 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The posi...

Experienced Creche Assistant - Lambeth - September 2014

£64 - £69 per day + Competitive London rates of pay : Randstad Education Group...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices