Education Quandary

Should I force my child to go to nursery when she doesn't seem to like it?

By Hilary Wilce
Tuesday 30 April 2013 04:05

How old is your daughter? How good is the nursery? And does she tell you why she does not like it? You say she liked it when she started the term, but not now. Do you know why? Has anything happened? Have you talked to the staff there and tried to get to the bottom of it? You also say you have started working again, and this could well have a bearing.

Maybe your daughter loved the novelty of her new environment but now doubts and insecurities are creeping in. Why, she might be wondering in her tiny three-year-old way, do I have to be bundled out of my safe, cozy house every morning? Where is Mum going after she drops me off? Why is she wearing different clothes, and acting and talking differently from how she used to be? What's happening to my life? Aaah! I don't like it! I want to stay at home!

Don't do anything precipitous. Check carefully that nothing is amiss at the nursery, and try and coax your daughter to explain why she does not want to go. Make sure you have plenty of time in the mornings so you are not rushing her out of the house, and pick her up promptly.

Explain to her, in simple terms, about your job and where you go to do it and how you could easily get back to her if there was a problem. Most importantly, give her masses of love and attention so that she knows that, although life has moved on, all the things that most matter to her are still exactly the same.

Readers' advice

Ask yourself if she's happy once she gets there. Lots of children don't like being made to get ready to go out in the mornings.

But a good nursery will be a warm, inviting place where the staff will know all about how to draw reluctant children out and will help you leave her. Ask them lots of questions about how quickly she settles and how happy she is during the course of the morning. If, like most children in these situations, she is only unhappy for a minute or two, you have nothing to worry about.
Elsie Harpur, Leicestershire

My daughter also failed to settle at nursery and would cry every morning. After two terms I gave up and had her back at home with me. I could not take it any more. Friends told me it was a mistake, and that she would miss out on early years education. They said I should move her to somewhere else. But when she went to school at four she was happy and made good progress. Looking back, I think she was not ready to be in a group of children.
Sarah Macintyre, Newcastle upon Tyne

Who is this nursery school for? It sounds as if it is more for your own benefit, in wanting to go back to work, than for your daughter's, and that she has picked up the fact she is being "parked".

Today's children are pushed out of the house too early. They don't get the individual attention they need.
Diane Relf, Stowmarket, Suffolk

Next week's quandary

Is there any way schools can give a strong moral framework to non-religious children? For the past five years I taught in a Church of England primary and, although not a Christian myself, badly miss the values that underpinned that culture. My new school parrots cliches about "sharing" and "respect" but it doesn't amount to much, and I can see that pupils are missing out.

Send your letters or quandaries to Hilary Wilce, to reach her at The Independent, Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to Please include your postal address. Readers whose letters are printed will receive a Berol Combi Pack with cartridge pen, handwriting pen and ink eraser

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