Transitioning from a Nanny to a Preschool

Parent Q&A

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  • Trying to figure out when the ideal time to send our little one to preschool will be.  For context, we have a 1 year old, a nanny, and share family that we love, and the fortunate position to not have to make the decision based on cost, but rather when it's going to be right for our little one and us.  The one thing I would like to do is give our nanny a realistic sense of how long we think we'll employ her.  I'd love to hear about how other families knew it was time to leave the nanny share and start preschool?  

    Our daughter will be 4 at the end of August, we're hoping to start preschool for her in the fall.  We looked at it last year but wanted to hold onto our nanny for one more year so we could have a nanny for the next kiddo.

    We transitioned from nanny share to preschool when the kids were 3 years old and spent 2 wonderful years at a play-based preschool. The kids went from 2 babies in a nanny share to preschool classmates and then went on to attend the same elementary school. They are like siblings or really close cousins. We feel extremely fortunate as neither family has blood relatives nearby and our kids are only kids. I personally think 3 years is an excellent age to transition to preschool. I did not want to send my kid to preschool before they were comfortable with toilet and could fully verbalize the happenings at school. We helped find the next fantastic families for our beloved nanny who still remains an occasional sitter for our child.  Good luck!

    We just did this transition and wish we had waited a little longer! Our kids are November babies and we just started preschool in January (so entered at 3 ). Preschools are so challenging to get into that I felt like we had to jump on the one that offered us a spot, but if you are happy, the other family is happy, the nanny is happy, I don't think there is any rush to start preschool given kids are socializing with each other in the share. If I could do it over,  I would have followed my instinct to stay fulltime in the nanny share until August 2022, which would have been 2 years of preschool before kindergarten for our kids instead of 2.5.

    Reminder that there is now universal public TK for all 4 year olds throughout CA. So if you plan on using TK, you might only have 1 year of preschool available. Most preschools don't take kids until they are 3 or just about to turn 3 (ie. Sept/Oct babies). If it's a combine daycare/preschool, the daycare program is usually up to 3 yr old and the preschool program is 3+ yrs.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Transition from beloved nanny to preschool. Help!

July 2012

Our 2.9 year old will be starting preschool fulltime at the beginning of September. This means we will be saying goodbye to the nanny who has cared for him and a buddy two days per week since he was 8 months old. We've done a lot of talking about his new school, but have yet to explain that he won't be spending time with his beloved nanny anymore. Any tips on how to deal with this transition? Should we start explaining it now? Wait until we're closer to the start of school? Should we make a big deal of the last day - a ritual, dinner, exchange of gifts? What did you do to mark this change? Huge thanks in advance.
Sad to say goodbye

I completely relate to your concern about losing your special nanny! Will you stay in touch with her? Would it be possible for her to come by and visit or meet up occasionally? Here's why I ask... We went through this recently. It broke my heart to think of my son losing this relationship, he absolutely adored her. So, I told our Nanny how sad we were to lose her (she was sad, too) and we decided that we still wanted to get together occasionally. Together, we also decided to wait to tell my son until her last day. We just didn't see the benefit of telling him in advance. On that day, about an hour before she left, we told him that she was going to be away for a bit (in our case she was leaving on vacation, as well) and that we will not see her for a while. I bought some mini-cupcakes and we had a little going away celebration. We told him that we'd see her again it just won't be as often (like yours, our Nanny was 2 days per week). We didn't dwell on any if this, just explained it and moved on. When it was time for her to go we all walked to the door together and we said bye bye and did high-fives (also not making a huge deal of it). A few weeks later I invited her over for coffee and they played for an hour. He was delighted to see her. We plan to see her occasionally as she has become a dear friend. Her name comes up in conversation and we say something like ''we havent seen '''J'' in a while, maybe she can come visit soon'' and he seems perfectly happy with this. I am not sure if this helps you but maybe it will give you some ideas. It's so hard to see a great Nanny go when they have developed a special relationship with your child (and you)! The best of luck to you. Another concerned Mama

You should talk to your child about it for a couple of weeks before the transition actually happens -- but not for too long (kids that age don't understand the future very well). But definitely do some kind of ritual. An exchange of gifts might work well. My son ''wrote'' his daycare provider a letter (short & sweet -- I need you, I miss you, I love you -- she thought it was very cute). And as we were part of a little family daycare, with about half the kids ''graduating'' and moving on to preschool at the same time, we had a ''goodbye'' picnic at the park, which was fun, but also helpful for everyone to say goodbye. All of those little rituals helped him move on. It was hard, but only for a few weeks, and he loved his new school every bit as much as his old daycare. Karen

Transtion 26-mo-old to preschool before baby arrives?

Dec 2010

My son, 26 mths old is in a Nanny share currently. While the situation is comfortable and easy, my husband and I are not thrilled with his Nanny. I am having a second baby in March so the thought is that if we make a change now before the baby comes, that will be easier for him. Problem is, from what we can tell most OAK/Berkeley Preschools with a Montesorri/Reggio Emilia are in full swing now and aren't taking new students until the Fall of 2011. I am sure we aren't the first parents to be inbetween caregiver cycles.

As an interim idea we have started to take a look at home-based care with a ''preschool'' feel but haven't found anything yet. Any superb recommendations would be appreciated.

So, we are kind of stuck and are looking for advice. Try to petition a preschool we like to take our son early? Go to an excellent academic-style home based preschool in the interim 8 mths (recommendations welcomed)? Stick with the Nanny until Fall of 2011?

Thoughts much appreciated! Rockridge Mom

Hi there, While I can't help you with finding a preschool that has openings, as a mom with a girl who transitioned from full time nanny to preschool I wanted to offer some advice on the transition.

Although each child is different, we eased my daughter into the preschool situation very slowly...started with just two half days a week for a few months, moved to 3 half days a week and then onto 3 full days a week. She is definitely thriving there now, but I don't think the results would have been the same if we had just moved her full time into this new situation. I have a friend who tried to do that to her son, and it backfired tremendously- now he is home again and still insecure even with his old nanny back.

So...maybe you can find a preschool that has a 2 half day a week timeslot available even this time of year? Keep the nanny for now (though you didn't mention why you weren't happy?), and see how the preschool transition goes. Some kids don't do well in a full time preschool until past 3 years of age, though my daughter was 2 when we started the half days and did great. Good Luck! Rebecca

Keep nanny for new baby and older sib starts preschool?

May 2007

I am hoping for some advice from parents who have successfully transitioned older siblings to FT preschool around the same time a new sibling is born, while trying to hold onto their original nanny for #2. I am due with #2 in mid-September, around the same time our oldest (who will be roughly 2.5) has been accepted to a nearby preschool. Our share-mate is definitely starting preschool in September so at that point we're on our own with our nanny. Unfortunately ,we can't afford to pay her to care for both kids -- we'll need a share for the new baby (and actully we think nanny shares are great for socialization so we favor it anyway). We need a solution that balances two issues: (1) concern about my older child rebelling against pre-school after baby arrives; (2) a desire to keep our wonderful nanny during my maternity leave without breaking the bank. Some Questions: How important is it to introduce the oldest to pre-school before the baby arrives, so he doesn't think he's being outsourced in favor of baby #2? My intuition tells me this is a good idea but perhaps I am overthinking this. Also, for those who kept their nanny for a second share, how did you sort that out? If you kept her on your own for a while, did you negotiate a lower share rate since it was ''same family''? The last thing I want to do is pay our nanny less but we simply can't afford the $19/hour share rate, particilarly when I am off work. Our nanny suggested we start a new share in October timeframe (even though I am not going back to work until January). This would still be tough for us financially (and unnecessary since I'll be home) but I am seriously considering it since it would allow us to keep her. I welcome any and all advice on the topic. Thanks in advance!

Could you use your nanny at least part time starting in October? Maybe you could find a family that wants to share with you full-time and another family that could ''sublet'' some of your days from you--ie, someone else who needs part time care and who won't be too sad about being pushed out once your baby needs full-time care, either because they are moving, starting day-care midyear, etc. If I have learned one thing from the BPN child care digest, it is that there are a million possibilities. anon

What to do about nanny when child starts preschool

March 2005

Our wonderful nanny has watched our daughter since she was four months old. She will be 2 years and 2 months in September and we are stressing about schools, childcare, etc. My husband and I both work full time and would like our daughter to go to school part time. We can't afford both a nanny and school. What do people do? Has anyone been able to find a nanny situation where the nanny works part time picking up kids from school? We know there are others in our situation. How have you handled this? Stressing about school

Hi, We had the same issues when my son was 3.5 and started preschool. He had been with the same nanny since he was 6months old and we did not want to sever the relationship. Our solution was to put our son in preschool half days (9-1) and have the nanny with him in the afternoon. To offset the cost of the nanny we turned the afternoon into a nanny-SHARE and invited other children the same age to join. It took some time to find the right share partners, but it did work out. On some days there are three children and other days 2. Our nanny is able to bring in the same amount of money because she receives hourly income from all the families, but the families all pay less. It has worked out for everyone and we have all made some great new friends. Best of luck to you! anon

I would look into a nanny share. Since you are happy with your nanny, you could use Berkeley Parents Network to post a ''Nanny Share'' ad and ask another family in your neighborhood to consider your joining your particular arrangement. If your nanny is open to this, she will earn more, keep a full time job, and your portion of the bill will be less overall. Hopefully, your nanny drives and she can drop your child off at preschool and take care of the other (preferably younger) child during the time that yours is attending class at either your house or his/her's. Your nanny will be there for your during school holidays and will be able to help be there when there are special parent participation events at the school that you cannot attend due to work conflicts. Lynn

We did this. We wanted to hold on to our relationship with our wonderful nanny once our 3.5-year-old started pre-school. We hoped that she would be able to care for him in the afternoons when preschool ended. She had been caring for him full-time since he was 6 months old. Also we shared with another child part-time who started the same pre-school at the same time as our son. The preschool ended at 12:30. We looked for another family that only needed a nanny in the mornings. It took a long time to find a family who needed the right days at the right time in the right location (we posted to the BPN childcare newsletter.) We did find a family that *almost but not quite* matched. They needed our nanny 4 days a week till 12:30 but our school, on the other side of town, ended at 12:30. So she couldn't get there in time to pick the kids up. So we patched together a system where one of us parents leaves work at 12:30, meets the kids at preschool, and waits with them in the playyard till the nanny arrives 20-30 minutes later. Not perfect, but it works, and we still get to have our nanny! G.

When our son started preschool, we continued to employ his nanny to pick him up in the afternoons and care for him until we got home from work. She also cared for him all day on the one day per week that he did not (at that time) attend preschool. It worked beautifully for us, because we didn't have to stress out about picking our son up on time from school -- basically an impossibility given our work schedules -- and we liked maintaining his long-term relationship with his nanny.

We found that the total cost of preschool plus part time nanny (one on one) was only very slightly less than we had been paying for full time nanny care (with some shared time). But it certainly wasn't more!

We made various attempts to find another family or families who would employ our nanny during the hours we no longer needed her, and although several good prospects ultimately fell through, our nanny liked us enough that she was happy to continue with us rather than quit and try to find a different full time position.

So go ahead and broach the subject with your nanny. She may be perfectly willing to work ''after school'' for you, particularly if you can find someone else with whom you can split and/or share her time. anon