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Young kids at school holiday care

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#1 newbub2014

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:01 AM

DS (4.5) goes to a preschool attached to a school for half the week, and normally attends before school care at the school (only for 1.25 hours). These holidays he’s attending a school holiday program there, I booked him in because I have to work because he’s having 2 weeks off very soon for an operation. In the second week of school hols I don’t have to work, but I have lots of uni work to do so booked him in for then too.

Yesterday was his first day and it seems like he absolutely hated it. He woke up this morning begging me not to go, I explained that I have to go to work and he tried to come up with all these other solutions. He’s never been like this from going anywhere else. I get the feeling that the staff are relatively inexperienced with young kids and relate better to older kids. He also doesn’t seem to have any friends there and said some of the older kids were calling him “little”, I think they might’ve been not wanting to play with him etc (which is fair enough). His social skills are probably on par with other preschoolers, but he is old for pre school (turned 4 a couple of months past the cut off date to attend last year) and is also big for his age so they might expect more from him.

I think he’s just fending for himself and I’m not sure if it’s to be expected at holiday care? I suppose we’re used to childcare and preschool (I tried to get him in for extra days at his childcare instead but they didn’t have room) and I expected it would be different, but not sure if this is normal. He didn’t touch his lunch or morning tea (very unusual for him, it’s usually empty). His water bottle was empty and he was really thirsty. He said he goes to the toilet by himself which is in a different part of the school. I suppose these are all things which perhaps they expect him to do independently (fair enough) but he’s used to a little more guidance?

I’m not blaming the staff/program, I’m just thinking that he’s not ready for school holiday care? Although there are a couple of excursions coming up, and I’m a little bit worried about the level of supervision at them and how that will be for him. The excursions are in the morning, and then we’re picking him up as early as possible each day.

Does anyone else have experience with this? Is it worth talking to the staff about any of it or is it not their problem and beyond their role to offer him a little bit more guidance? I don’t want to be an annoying parent!

Edited by newbub2014, 16 April 2019 - 06:04 AM.

#2 Sancti-claws

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:12 AM

Oh poor you being left with so few options.

I would talk to the ASC coordinator - they should be a bit more on top of potential bullying of younger children and buddy him up with someone who can be his guide?

#3 Harmony04

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:23 AM

Definitely talk to the staff or coordinator, it sounds like he’s struggling to adjust. My daughter was the same when she started after school care. After talking to the team they tweaked a few things and made things much better for the little ones - in previous years I don’t think there had been as many little ones and as you said, they were more used to catering for the older kids. I think he can definitely enjoy it in time, just keep the lines of communication going. Even now I’m still in regular contact with the ASC staff. Don’t worry at all about being “that” parent!

#4 BornToLove

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:28 AM

I don’t think it’s an age thing per se. DD has never enjoyed unstructured school holiday programs. She is the kind of kid who can take a while to warm to new people and situations. Because these types of programs have so many kids and so much going on, DD really struggles to connect with other kids and/or being assertive enough to join an activity.

The problem with the more structured programs (ie centred around a specific sport/activity)  is that they aren’t designed for parents who work full time as they often run from 10-4.

Anyways, I would suggest taking to the program manager and suggest your son be paired with a buddy, ideally someone who is attending the same days as him. I would also ask that staff keep an eye on him and help him join in a game or activity when he seems like he’s been left out.

#5 Holidayromp

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:48 AM

It sounds like the programme is the wrong fit but they are often designed for older children and unusual that 4yo can attend.

As for the buddy system I think it is totally unfair to tie another older kid to your son.  Most kids are only tolerating the care and to be a buddy to a much younger kid would be the pits and unreasonable to ask.

Having said that there may be kids willing to do it but it should be strictly volunteer only and if they lose interest after awhile then maybe you need to reconsider alternative arrangements.

#6 José

Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:55 AM

i think school holiday programs generally are less structured.  and i would expect it to be quite diffetent to pre school.
i would chat to the staff and hopefully they can offer a little more support. it does sound though like its not a great fit for your little one.

#7 Prancer is coming

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:17 AM

Our outside  school care is right next to a child care centre.  They have always been strict about needing to have started fyos before accessing outside school care, so your kid can’t even attend in the school holidays leading up to school starting.

Older kids can be fast noisy and say things or do things that little kids might not be used to.  Our outside school care has seperate rooms for the primary and ECE kids to try and cater for different needs.

Your son is little, in both size and behaviour.  So I don’t necessarily think kids calling him that are bullying or being mean, just noticing him if that makes sense.  If they were being mean about it, I would more expect words like baby or shorty.

Being in such a different environment with bigger kids he does not know will be overwhelming.  The ratios are lower and their will be supervision, but also an expectation around independent toileting.

However, if your child is unhappy and not eating, of course talk to the director.  I would present it in terms of how your child is struggling, what the main issues for your child are, and how can they help.  Be realistic that the ratios and set up are different to child care centres and it may be that your child is not ready.  But if the program accepted him, they do need to cater for him.

With excursions, I have no concerns about the safety of them.  The centre would have done a risk management plan and would have no desire to lose a student or have so,e sort of incident.  I m sure they would have some older students who are quite a handful as well as the younger ones and be quite vigilant.

#8 Veritas Vinum Arte

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:17 AM

Also note holiday care is not just open to children of that school but other schools too.

Where my kids went they had separate 3/4yo Kinder holiday care in a seperate building and the school kids holiday care in another building. This was a school which was ELC-12.

The ELC care had greater number of carers to kids ratio.

Like PP I would be surprised that they are accepting a preschooler at school holiday care. DD was only allowed to join the school holiday care the Dec/Jan before she started school as she had turned 5 and was about to start school and her brothers were already attending.

#9 28 Barbary Lane

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:18 AM

I’m sorry that your son is having a hard time, at ours they kind of separate out the kindys into a group and have one supervisor just for them so it’s definitely worth asking how it works and seeing if they can come to a solution.

For what it’s worth my kids are 7 and 9 and love little kids and would absolutely love to be a buddy for a kindly, so there would probably be kids there similar to mine that they could buddy him up with.

You poor things, it’s really tough when you don’t have a choice and they don’t want to go, I’ve definitely been there as well, hope you find a solution soon x

#10 WaitForMe

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:25 AM

Poor thing.

I think your best option is to chat to the staff. Its not going to help you now, but also raising it with the school, and again just before next holidays.

I understand the worry about supervision on excursions, I worry too about an older child. The structure of an excursion helps though, just the act of getting there and back keeps them pretty occupied.

Our school also has a preschool attached but they don't accept the preschool kids into OOSHC, which is a shame as it would make life for me so much easier having DD2 there next year instead of childcare. But maybe its for the best.

The numbers at childcare are usually pretty low in holidays, you might be able to find one willing to take him.

#11 schwatzen

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:26 AM

DD went to a sports holiday program at age 5 and even though they took kids that age she was younger by a long shot and completely miserable. But, we had to work. So she just had to tough it out.

#12 jessiesgirl

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:33 AM

Asking him to go to the toilet by himself in a different part of the school is too much for a a preschooler. Also check the staffing for the excursions.  The staffing ratios should be higher for preschoolers, I would have thought.

#13 Hands Up

Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:35 AM

Unfortunately I think he’s just too young. Vacation care is set up for school aged kids. Is there a daycare or occasional care nearby you could call? They might have casual places in school holidays.

#14 José

Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:05 AM

View PostPrancer is coming, on 16 April 2019 - 07:17 AM, said:

Your son is little, in both size and behaviour.  So I don’t necessarily think kids calling him that are bullying or being mean, just noticing him if that makes sense.  If they were being mean about it, I would more expect words like baby or shorty.

he is little.
the OP didnt seem to be suggesting he was bullied. but i agree that it doesnt sound like meanness based on the info provided.
older primary kids would typically be considered 'big kids ' and kindys- and preschoolers would typically be considered 'little' kids.

#15 José

Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:08 AM

View PostVeritas Vinum Arte, on 16 April 2019 - 07:17 AM, said:

Also note holiday care is not just open to children of that school but other schools too.

at my DS school the before and after school care is only for students of his school but the vacation care is for anyone.
i think that makes it slightly trickier as the staff will be dealing with a bunch of new kids they dont know and the kids will also have a lot of unfamiliar faces that might throw them off balance a bit.

#16 Sincerely

Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:16 AM

View Postschwatzen, on 16 April 2019 - 07:26 AM, said:

DD went to a sports holiday program at age 5 and even though they took kids that age she was younger by a long shot and completely miserable. But, we had to work. So she just had to tough it out.

Your post resonates with me. I used to feel guilty leaving my eldest at LDC from the age of 6 weeks and then vacation care from the age of 4, but I had to work and study too. She adapted.

She's grown up into an amazing young woman and I've recently asked her for her reflections on those early years. She says she doesn't remember much of it but she certainly doesn't feel there was anything negative about her childhood.

#17 liveworkplay

Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:50 AM

After having three through childcare, before school care, after school care and vacation care I can tell you that the sweet spot for school based care is around 7-10 years old. Before that they are intimidated by the big kids and too used to being in a child care environment where they were the big kids and after that it is too babyish and boring.

I am not sure what you can do if it is your only option. Less one on on supervision/interaction and having to cater activities to a wide age group means vacation care isn't really fun for many unfortunately.

#18 newbub2014

Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:53 AM

Thanks everyone :) Lots to consider.

The vacation care is definitely only for children of the school he attends. I did understand it would be different to preschool and less structured, I thought he would be fine with this because he is ok with the less structure at childcare, and actually struggled with the structure at preschool - tends to take himself off to do whatever he wants to do, rather than sitting with the group at group time etc (difficulty focusing).  Other's who are saying vacation care is for school age children, at our school they accept pre-schoolers so it is a bit different, and I do kind of agree with a PP who said if they're going to accept this age they sort of need to cater for them?

I'm not sure if it's bullying but I got the feeling there was more to it than being called little, i.e. I think it was an exclusionary thing as in you're little so you can't play with us.  Which I totally get, of course I can see why some older children might not want to play with younger children and that's fine.   He also said another child was chasing him around and wouldn't stop.  I just want him to feel ok there.

Re: Independent toileting, he can go to the toilet independently and wash his hands etc.  It's just the part of having to walk off to a totally different part of the school by himself, round several corners and at least a hundred metres away from the hall that I didn't really think sounded great..

I tried to give him some techniques this morning, I suggested what he can say to the teachers if he needs help etc. And how he can join in other games but also if he isn't sure what to do he could ask if he can draw or play on the playground or play with a ball (he isn't too hard to please!)  So hopefully he will have a better day.  I think I will chat to them tomorrow morning, and as a PP suggested take it from a perspective of what he needs rather than it sounding as though I don't think they're doing a good job etc (because that's actually not the case anyway, I just think his needs are different to what the carers are familiar with, but also that yes perhaps he needs to learn to be a little more independent).

#19 BeAwesome

Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:06 AM

Our OSHC takes kids from other schools, and there's enough demand they've split it into an older kids building and younger kids building, perhaps finding a service like this could help?

#20 Holidayromp

Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:24 AM

Looking at your update I would be surprised if it ends well.

It sounds like the centre is ill equipped to take your son.  I would be inclined to have him at home on the week you are studying and set him up so minimal disruption to you.

Take this as a learning curve to do your homework before settling on a place for your son.  This is usually organised months in advance.

Play centres often have holiday programmes that may be a better fit.

Even though the centre advertises as being able to take young kids in your case I think it’s being inclusive of the younger kids because it only takes the kids going to that school.  But it doesn’t mean it’s equipped to and a certain level of independence is expected which is your son is clearly not ready for.

Resilience can only be built when a child is ready it can have the opposite and detrimental affect when they are not.

#21 ipsee

Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:07 AM

Tomorrow you could pick the kindest looking carer and settle him in next to them in the morning, and mention to them that he is feeling a little lonely as he is the youngest one there.

We found hardly any programs took preschoolers, except a French preschool, and a really expensive art-based program.

#22 EsmeLennox

Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:09 AM

I wouldn’t send him next week, personally.

#23 Prancer is coming

Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:33 AM

View PostEsmeLennox, on 16 April 2019 - 10:09 AM, said:

I wouldn’t send him next week, personally.

I don’t really get this.  People book childcare as they need their kid minded.  Most don’t do it for their kid to have holiday fun.  The OP has also paid for it, and I imagine the cost was quite high.  They are not going to refund just because the child did not like it and at present the OP has not gone to the centre with her concerns.  I know as a working mother sometimes you do just need to leave them, even though the environment is not ideal.  Just like the home environment at times is not ideal as well.

#24 jayskette

Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:35 AM

i thought holiday care is for school age kids only. daycare should still be available for pre K.

#25 newbub2014

Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:42 AM

Thanks everyone.  I guess I didn't think it would be this bad because he's happy at before school care and its the same service/staff/location.  But obviously now in hindsight it's quite different. I'm a bit stuck for next week (it's only 2 days because of the public holiday).  I don't really want to send him but I have assessments for uni (I'm studying my Masters and also work 30 hours per week, and am a single parent with 85% care, so quite stressed atm).  He's about to have two weeks off after his operation so it's going to be hard for me to do uni work then. I tried to listen to a lecture on Saturday while I put a movie on for him, but he comes in every 20 minutes and its quite disruptive.  Then he gets sick of the movie and starts playing loudly, wanting my attention etc. So it's not really possible for me to do uni work with him at home.  I've taken on board everyone's points though and I'll have a think about over the next couple of days.  I think I'd have to pay now for it anyway?  Like I can't cancel?  

I also don't want to look in to an occasional childcare place and send him to a whole new place, I think that would be quite difficult for him.

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