Is your child ready for nursery AND is your nursery ready for your child?
You may be considering nursery options at the moment and asking yourself this question. The same had cropped up across the years in various academic and magazine journals. The answer is usually that the nursery isn’t ready for your child, or more commonly that school nurseries are not ready for two and three-year-olds. I wouldn’t like to comment on whether I agree with this, as every child and school are different, but it did make me look at our nursery through a different pair of eyes.
Undergoing a PhD, in Early Childhood Education, and observing five children over two academic years, two highlights became clear to me;
1) that being amongst the oldest or the most able in the group really does something wonderful for children’s emotional wellbeing and the pace of their learning.
2) the younger children in the group, once settled, were able to engage in play and activities beyond expectations for their age.
However, in a mixed-age group (with children from two to four years-old), some children who joined us at two took longer to settle in with us than I was comfortable with. It made me wonder whether we could do better for these two-year-olds who were venturing outside their family for the first time.
Taking those fabulous benefits of mixing children of different ages and of giving children the opportunity to be the most able in their group, we decided to change the groupings in the nursery. Previously, we had babies up to two years-old in one space and children from two years-old to almost five years-old in another space. We moved the middle!
We now have one space for children from 0 to 2 years 6 months and one up to five years-old (when they leave us for school).
So, what was the result (you may ask)? In short it worked. We just had to observe the children for them to tell us that it worked.
The children who join us at two, some on their funded place, start nursery in a smaller space, where they are closer to their adults, where they can freely explore and, importantly, where they are the most able. They settle in quickly, they feel happy and safe, they use their voices, they are confident, they enjoy learning and love showing the others what they can do. When they need cuddles, their adults are right there, waiting with a big smile, a safe lap and open arms.
The babies now have older role models – they gather ideas from their ‘big’ friends, they like to help and to join in as older children show them interesting activities. They listen to the conversations over lunch and join in with babbles. As a result, babies and older toddlers develop confidently and rapidly.
As a bonus, the move around has allowed us to provide a sleep room, for when naps are still needed (nobody really wants to explore when they are tired).
When children move through to the pre-school, they are so ready. They are confident, they know the adults, they have been watching some of the shenanigans through the window and joined in with some activities, to see how it feels. They are now ready to learn from the older children, safe in their emotions and solid in their own abilities – they are ready to be part of it, ready to learn.
At Yellow Wellies in Bishop Auckland, an outstanding nursery, we have spaces available for next term, with funded places for two, three and four-year-olds and for 30 hours’ funding.
If you are looking for the right nursery for your child, call us on 01388 603862, come and visit, take a look around, meet the staff, see what the children are up to and make your decision.
We look forward to meeting you.
We also have an outstanding nursery in Durham City. Call us on 0191 384 1444.