Starting Nursery: Why I’m Worried (& Why I Shouldn’t Be)

My little girl, Charis, will be starting nursery in January. She’s just turned three and so her free nursery place is available from next term for 15 hours a week.

I’m a stay at home mum so, up until now, Charis has been with me all day, every day. I have loved our time together and I am so grateful to my husband for making it possible.

But here we are. Three years old. Time to enter the big wide world…

Unicorn Birthday Cake Starting Nursery

Hubby made this unicorn cake for her 3rd birthday

Worried about starting nursery

I’ve been here before. My big girl is already at school (and loving it) so you’d think I would breezing through it a second time… but I’m not.

All the old fears are re-surfacing.

I know that there will now be a great big chunk of her day that I know nothing about. Yes the nursery staff will be able to fill me in with bits and pieces, but it’s not the same. Up until now, I have been there for everything.

I have been able to interpret her toddler babble because I have known the context – the TV programme we were watching earlier or the picture we painted. Now it will be mystery. The teachers might not know that a “maa-na” is a banana or that “Poh-cus” is her favourite Disney princess, Pocahontus.  And I won’t be there to interpret for them.

What if she hates nursery? What if being at home for three years has made her too dependent on me? What if she is scared without me there for reassurance?

When she cries, I won’t be there to scoop her up. I’m sure the nursery staff will sort her out, but they won’t know that she needs a magic kiss in the exact spot it hurts to make it all better. They’ll probably just thrust a wet paper towel at her (the teachers’ answer to any injury, right?!).

And then there’s the academics – what if she has huge gaps in her knowledge? I have no idea what is on the 0-3yrs school curriculum – maybe I’ve missed something major! What if she starts nursery and she’s way behind everyone else? What if I have put her at a disadvantage by keeping her at home with me instead of getting an early years education for her? What if she never manages to catch up?

Goggles Chalk board easel starting nursery

More to life

But as I sit here typing, I am desperately trying to remind myself that starting nursery is not the end of childhood. Nursery is simply a halfway house between home and school. It is about learning to be away from mum and getting used to an educational environment.

Children grow and learn at such different rates. She might be ready to start writing some letters, or she might just want to splash in the water tray. At this stage, it really doesn’t matter.

Life is about more than ABCs.

At the end of the day, I want her to be happy. I have done my best to give her the absolute best start that I can. She might not have had the benefit of a paid education, but I have provided her with a tonne of life experience. Children learn so much by just being out and about.

She is a confident, smiley little girl who loves to make people laugh. Her knowledge of the My Little Pony world is astounding, and she is game to try anything once! She is daring and loud, but also shy and empathetic. She is the one who loves to curl up and read books with me. She is the little one making her presence known to all her big sisters’ friends.

There are still plenty of years ahead to study the alphabet. All those numbers will still be there, waiting for her, in January. For now, we’re going to make the most of our last few months together. There are things a child can learn at home which the classroom just can’t teach.

That’s what we’ve been focussing on up until now and that’s what we’ll fill our last few weeks with.

39 Things Pre-Schoolers Learn Outside The Classroom

1) How to make a sandwich

2) How to wash up

3) The names of common flowers

4) How to do the weekly food shop

5) What a red / green traffic light means

6) An internal map of the local area

7) The feel of sand between your toes

8) How to swim

9) How to entertain yourself

10) Why we wear seatbelts

starting nursery child holding daisy

11) Where to collect conkers

12) How to peg the washing out

13) The importance of tidying up

14) Your role in the family

15) How to make your bed

16) How to take photographs

17) How to match socks into pairs

18) The feeling of being in a wide open space

19) How to wash yourself in the bath

20) How to climb a tree

Money-saving tips washing hanging outside

21) How to play simple board games

22) How to recycle glass at the bottle bank

23) Which seeds come from which trees

24) How to put an outfit together

25) Rules about leaving ornaments / non-child items alone

26) How to vacuum the house

27) How to cope with lots of different environments

28) How to use the local library

29) How to climb stairs safely

30) How to walk safely down the street

starting nursery using the library

31) The names of birds

32) How to care for a pet

33) How to work the TV

34) How to bake a cake

35) How to talk on the phone

36) How to spend money

37) What it’s like to ride on a train

38) How to eat in a restaurant

39) What it’s like to have a haircut

Starting nursery train sign

Charis is really looking forward to starting nursery. I think it’ll be great for her to spend some time away from me, learning to be more independent. And of course she’ll love having some kids her own age to play with.

To be honest, I think she’ll lap up the academic stuff (Alphablocks is one of her favourite programmes and she loves pretending to read like her big sister). There are a whole host of new experiences waiting for her – group activities, fun experiments, best friends. It’s going to be fab.

So I shall try to not worry anymore about starting nursery.

Nursery – we’re ready for you!


I’d love you to share your experiences – how did you feel about your child starting nursery? What important lessons do you think can be learnt at home? Did your child go to nursery from being tiny or did you wait until they were three?


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39 Things Pre-Schoolers Learn Outside Of School - toddlers learn so much from just being at home and having a role in the family - an internal map of the area, how to hang the washing out, what it feels like to be in a wide open space. Check out this post for loads of things kids learn at home in a home classroom - homeschooling


Add yours
  1. 5

    I loved this! I worried so much about my little one starting nursery. But she was absolutely fine! As a nursery manager I’ve supported so many parents through first days at nursery. I thought I’d be fine.. I was a total wreck! Managed to make it to the car park before I dissolved.

  2. 6
    Mackenzie Glanville

    Life is so much more than their ABCs and being with us they learn so much about real life and how to be wonderful compassionate people. I feel everything you are saying here, a big part of my heart felt so sad and scared and yet also so proud as mine entered this new phase. Mine were fine with ABCs but socially they struggled. Happy to say they got there, and they all now love school. Sending hugs and love xx #BlogCrush

  3. 7
    The Squirmy Popple

    It can be so scary when your child starts nursery, but I think there are so many positives to it, especially the social aspect. But you’re right – there’s much more to learning than what kids can get in the classroom. She’ll be fine and so will you! #blogcrush

  4. 8
    Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    Lovely post Lucy – I love your list and I love the line – Life is about more than ABCs. So true. I think you’ve taught her all the important things that a 0-3 year old should know – the most important off which is a feeling of love, security and a sense of curiousness. She is ready, and will be absolutely fine! Good luck!!!

  5. 10
    Lisa Pomerantz

    What a fab list. Males me want to start all over again! First off, that cake by hubster is WOW! Lovely! Had to have made her happy. You all will be great. Change is hard, and good, and she will be tired and cranky, but a new routine will ensue, and she will run into her new class venue! Good luck to you all! I know it is hard! <3 <3 <3 #blogcrush

  6. 12

    Fab post – my little girl started just after her first birthday. It was a bit emotional for both of us at pick up and drop off time during the first few weeks, but she’s really settled in and loves it now. She goes 3 days a week, and I love getting the photos and seeing all the creative things she’s been doing, the amazing food she’s eating (Thai green curry, mixed bean enchiladas with polenta sticks, stuff she’d NEVER eat if I made it lol) and I think it’s been really good for her! #TriumphantTales

  7. 13
    Alice | Letters to my Daughter

    It always pulls at the heart strings leaving your baby with someone else! D has gone to the childminder since she was 11 months and it still gets me sometimes when she’s sad about me leaving. It’s lovely to know that she’s having lots of fun though and I can get a bit of a break, even if it is at work! I bet Charis will have an amazing time and totally storm the academics 😉 #BlogCrush

  8. 14

    Aww I’m sure Charis is going to love nursery but you’re so right that kids can learn so much stuff outside of the classroom. I felt like this when Leo started play school, I was nervous for him but he loved it.xx #blogcrush

  9. 15
    Hayley@ Mission: Mindfulness

    My eldest was in a nursery from about a year old but things have been different for the twins. We have a nanny for the 3 days I’m at work for them and school drop-off/pick-up as it makes much more sense financially and practically. Both have worked well and the girls will start the eldest’s school’s nursery next September after they are 3 early in 2018. I really don’t see any rush for kids to be in the classroom apart from to learn through play. I would worry if a kid was being ‘pushed’ into academic things too early…. as you point out in this post there’s much more to learn than abcs etc…. I’m sure Charis will be fine and wish her and you the best of luck with this next stage! xx #blogcrush

  10. 16
    daydreams of a mum

    Aaaww I felt exactly the same about my youngest starting school. We’d had such a great time her and I doing similar things to on your list and even now at 9 she talks about “do you remember when I didn’t go to school and we….” Thankfully she adores school , and it seems to love her right back!!! #Blogcrush

  11. 17

    I remember feeling exactly the same when the Little Man started nursery at the same age. Then all over again when he started school. Thankfully he loved nursery and so far school seems to be going well. It’s just a thing some of us go through as Mums I guess. We don’t want them to grow up! Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again next week. X

  12. 18

    Like you I know nothing about the 0-3 academic programme so wonder whether I’ve missed out something. Should I be teaching eldest things or not. There certainly seems to be different views and ways to do things. #BlogCrush

  13. 19
    Jo - Pickle & Poppet

    My little ones started from a younger age and went through the same worries. When Reuben moved into the preschool room and even now I worry if he is at the ‘right’ level. Should he be able to read and write before he goes to school? I had a meeting with the nursery manager who went through how they teach the children and found that such a great help. #TriumphantTales

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