Transition

Nursery is always a hive of activity both in the rooms and in the office, you wouldn’t believe the amount of administration involved in nursery life!

The end of the summer term brings lots of changes. We say goodbye to children who are moving on to pre-school nursery or to reception class in school, some of the children will have been with us since they were babies so it’s both an emotional and exciting time. In July, we had a Graduation Party for all of the children leaving to go to school. This is a family event and we were so lucky that the sun was shining for us that day. Our garden was jam packed with parents, grandparents and siblings all celebrating the children’s time at nursery and making time to say fond farewells to staff.

As some children leave we begin the process of preparing for the new starters in the 2-4’s, some who may never have been to a nursery setting before. It’s a time of transition for children, parents and nursery staff. No two children will ever have the same settling in experience, parents are sometimes surprised when their very confident and sociable child is very unsettled and upset at being left in this new environment; and parents who think their shy and less confident child will have trouble settling are a bit put out that their child settles quickly and comes into nursery without a backwards glance!!

So, with all of this in mind, how can we help and support our children with transition?

  • Settling-in sessions are important for parents and children, it is an opportunity to get to know your child’s key person (someone who is about to become a very significant person in their life), and familiarise yourself with other staff and nursery routine. It is important that you can be there at the first settling in session to provide that much needed familiarity and security.
  • Share as much information as you can with your child’s key worker, knowing as much about home routine, likes and dislikes will help staff get to know your child and enable nursery to make a new starter feel at home as quickly as possible.
  • Even if you are feeling super emotional yourself, especially if your child is clingy or upset, be brave, children are experts at picking up on how we are feeling so be positive, happy and encouraging. I know, it’s hard, I’ve had one of my own children clinging to my leg not wanting to go into nursery, it’s distressing and can be difficult to know how to handle such situations, try to remain optimistic and cheerful, nursery is there to support you as well as your child; a quick telephone call to check how your child is can soon put your mind at rest.
  • Celebrate this milestone in your child’s life, share your family experiences with nursery, build a partnership with your child’s key person and staff at the setting. We are all here to support your child on their journey through nursery life, our aim at The Nest Nursery is to encourage children to be the thinkers and doers of the future, to, as our moto says, Develop their Wings to Fly.

P.S.

I was reminded this weekend whilst attending a wedding that transition isn’t just something that applies to our children. Throughout life we all experience transition on many occasions, changes in our lives, personal, academic, work, sometimes successful transitions and other times we may trip and fall, we are all only human after all! Just taking a moment to reflect on how change may have affected us at one time or another could help put into perspective what a child is going through when they enter a new setting, I said above be brave for your child, try not to show if you are feeling worried or upset for them, because your little one is taking a big step and having to be very brave indeed!!

Image below, awaiting our nursery graduates and their families to celebrate their achievements and wish them luck with their next transition……..

graduation day

Forest School

Forest School

I don’t mind admitting that I am one of the older members of staff at The Nest Nursery, and I’m not a nursery practitioner, I am the Business Administrator for one of our settings although I do have a childcare qualification and grown up children of my own so I have experience of parenting and the education system from early years through to university.

I worked for many years at a Children’s Centre associated with the first of The Nest Nursery settings and this is where I first heard about Forest School. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see these small children all togged up, whatever the weather, to go on their weekly walk to Forest School, and how I wish my children had been able to experience such sessions.  Fortunately for my family we began going on camping holidays when the children were young (something I never thought I would do!), and I highly recommend this type of holiday to anyone, once your tent is pitched and everything is set up you can take stock of what’s around you, and generally that’s going to involve fields, beaches, forests, and dark, dark skies at night giving a great glimpse of the stars. However, that’s another topic altogether!!!!

In these times of risk aversion, testing at school from an early age, technology (I’m not knocking it, technology has its place), and generally wrapping children up in cotton wool, how amazing must the Forest School experience be for these youngsters! I can guarantee that every week the staff and children would arrive back at nursery with rosy cheeks and bubbling with excitement about what they had seen and done – all documented so I was often lucky enough to see the photos which adorn the nursery walls.

The idea that the great outdoors is an excellent place to learn lots of different skills, and to be absorbing this knowledge without realising you are ‘learning’ is not a new concept in the UK, but the practice of Forest Schools has its roots in Scandinavia where for many years they have recognised the importance of children having contact with nature. How often do our children get to explore a forest, smell the different scents of a forest on a hot Summer day or after it has rained, lie on the grass watching the clouds go by? How often do you do these things? Forest Schools provide the children with the opportunities to explore, be independent learners full of curiosity, awe and wonder. Each time we enter the forest (or the park or even our own garden) it will have changed, whether it is the changes of the seasons bringing new life, shooting bulbs or the changes of the tree leaves. A tree may have been felled, a new nest may have been built no two sessions are ever the same.

The Nest Nursery has four settings, none of which are anywhere near a ‘forest’, we do however have the great outdoors right outside our front doors and Forest School trained practitioners! One of our settings is lucky enough to be very close to a nature reserve; the other settings have access to local parks and a reservoir and one has its very own secret garden in the planning. The Nest Nursery places a strong emphasis on learning and discovery through outdoor play, enabling children to explore, be creative and learn to appreciate the natural world at their own pace, so to be able to offer Forest School sessions is a wonderful additional benefit for the children and staff.

We offer the Forest School experience to children from aged 3 (pre-school year) and with access to a variety of environments the experience for the children at each setting is very different. The session starts with getting ready into appropriate clothing for the season/weather, this in itself can be a challenging for some children so provides a learning opportunity before we have stepped out of the door.  Children are reminded about road safety then we are off with a healthy snack in our bag to enjoy on our break!

As practitioners, we may have an idea of what we might ‘learn’ during a session, however experience has proven how quickly that can change, this is the magic of following the children’s lead and their emerging interests, sessions can lead to very magical moments.

One of our most memorable sessions recently involved the children exploring the forest looking for our Fairy, Tilly (she was being mischievous playing hide and seek). The practitioners were hoping this may lead to finding some mini-beasts but we actually had a very different experience. Whilst searching the area they came across a ball of wool tangled up in the branches. The children were very curious; where had it come from and what was it doing there? After much deliberation, they chose to untangle the wool from the tree to have a closer look. This proved very challenging, the children were pulling, twisting and creating even more knots until one child said “this isn’t working, we need a plan and we have to work together”. Soon they negotiated and developed their roles with some children focusing on the knots, some clearing away some debris and others collecting sticks (as this is what they wanted to do to help in their own way).

The discovery of a ball of wool led to the most amazing opportunity for learning. Once the wool was free the children started to use it in creative ways, expressing their ideas and thoughts, working together or individually. Some wrapped the wool around sticks, some were determined to make a knot, others joined sticks together with the wool and created a bridge for Tilly our Fairy. The levels of engagement and focus were incredible to observe. A simple ball of wool provided endless and unlimited opportunities with no end product. For the practitioners who were lucky enough to be part of this, we were just filled with joy, the joy that comes from working with children when adults learn to expect the unexpected.

Your child doesn’t have to attend a nursery to enjoy a Forest School type of experience. As adults, we sometimes need to rediscover our inner child and leave behind the stresses and strains of modern life. Take time to visit the park and really ‘see’ the environment, let your child lead you on an adventure, remember what it was like to try to climb a tree, or pick up leaves and conkers or fir cones and be creative with them. Even your back garden can provide opportunities to discover nature, look at the flowers, watch the birds, bees and butterflies and how your child reacts to them, make mud pies and jump in puddles. If you don’t have a garden or a park nearby then maybe a walk around your local area could also provide some of these opportunities – be curious wherever you go with your child, you never know what wonderful experiences may unfold!

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The Nest Nursery’s first blog – Play Dough

Welcome to the Nest Nursery’s Blog. We will be posting about a variety of topics which we hope you will find informative!

So, let’s get started with…………………..Play Dough

The play dough station at nursery is always a hive of activity with the children engrossed in whatever it is they may be making, but do you know that there are many benefits of letting children get creative with play dough?

Have you ever really watched how your child interacts with play dough? They love to roll it out flat or into balls, squeeze it through their fingers or squash it with their hands, not to mention using things like cookie cutters and rolling pins, actions which help build strength in their hands which they will need when it comes to writing at a later stage (fine motor skills), alongside this hand-eye co-ordination is also being developed.

Then there is the imagination which comes to life, play dough can be an activity in which children become completely absorbed, one day they might be making pizza’s and cakes and the next day it could be trees and flowers. At the same time if several children are being creative at the play dough station then communication and social skills are being developed as they talk about what they are making – it is truly fascinating to be a quiet observer of these activities, but also creates an opportunity to discuss any issues that may arise with their creation giving an opportunity to problem solve as well.

For parents one of the best things about play dough is that you can make it yourself (recipe below), and there are lots of objects you can use to make many different creations. Try using leaves or herbs from your garden (pine cones, sticks, feathers – the garden has an endless supply of objects to use with play dough); spices from your kitchen; food colourings or essential oils; buttons and straws, lolly sticks, pebbles and shells from the beach – using play dough can be an all-round sensory experience for you and your child.

Non-cook Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 drops liquid food colouring

Method:

  • STEP 1   Combine plain flour and salt.
  • STEP 2   Add water, food colouring and oil. Mix until ingredients are combined.
  • STEP 3   Knead well.
  • STEP 4   If consistency is too wet add a little plain flour.

You can either play with your dough straight away or leave it in the fridge to cool a little bit.

You can add any coloured food colouring to your playdough but you could also add glitter to make it sparkle, a drop or two of essential oils such a lavender to make it fragranced or grains of rice for texture. Have fun experimenting with different additions.

Remember that this is for playing with not eating as there is a LOT of salt in the recipe! Also, be aware that essential oils are strong so only a tiny amount should be used.

Have fun creating at home!!

Playdough image 2