Nursery Newsletter





27 August 2018

Dear Parents/Carers

Welcome back to everyone! I hope you were all able to enjoy the unusually lovely summer weather. Since our return, we’ve been having a lot of fun out in our garden where our flowers, fruit and vegetables are flourishing. We’ve also been harvesting vegetables from our plot at Leith Community Croft – it’s been a bumper harvest!

Can I extend a very warm welcome to all the new families who are starting at Stanwell this session, and hope that they enjoy their time with us? Please don’t hesitate to speak to staff if you have any concerns and we will do our best to help.

Dates for the Year

I have attached the City of Edinburgh calendar of term dates for this session. I have also included all the dates we so far have arranged for this term at the end of this newsletter.

New Staff

I’m sure you will join me in offering a warm welcome to our two new trainees, Gurdeep, in Room 1, and Chloe, in Room 2. They will be with us throughout this session.

Last term’s Questionnaire

Thank you very much indeed to all of you who completed out questionnaire in June. The vast majority of the responses were very positive indeed, which is always good to hear. There were also a number of interesting suggestions that we will work hard to incorporate. Some of these points were:

Could we have more outings?   We try very hard to take children out into the community as often as we can, but time pressures can mean it’s not as often as we would like. However, now that so many of our children are accessing longer hours, it should be easier to fit trips in. We have already taken some children to the croft to harvest vegetables – look at our website for the lovely photos – and we hope to do more.

More learning activities. This is an interesting point. The philosophy underpinning early years education is very much learning through play – based on the idea that young children learn best through active, self- directed play-based activity. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not learning! For example, in the blocks area, you might think all a child is learning is how to build towers or models. But they’re learning so much more – maths (measuring, estimating, classifying, sorting and matching, properties of 3-D shapes……), science (balance, gravity, properties of wood….) personal/moral development (negotiating, sharing, cooperating, compromising…) language (describing their building, sharing information), problem solving, creativity, role play………the list is endless. So, our children might not be sitting at a desk listening to an adult, but they are still learning!

More greenery in the outdoor area. This is something we are constantly trying to improve. We have made a lot of progress (you would be amazed to see the photos of a barren-looking front garden from ten or fifteen years ago), but we know we have a long way to go. If you have any ideas or suggestions for developing the garden, or even some spare time when you could help us maintain it, please let us know.

More opportunities to share languages. This is something we’d love to do more of. We are one of the most multi-lingual nurseries in Edinburgh – we are very proud of this and try very hard to extend a warm welcome to families from all over the world.

We very much welcome input from parents/carers – if you could, for example, spare some time to read a story to the children in your home language, we would very much appreciate it.

Lunches/Extended Hours

Many thanks again for your patience over the delays in introducing lunches. This week, we are offering most children 2 longer days. Hopefully we will be able to extend this to a full week over the next week or two. Due to the delay in the provision of hot lunches, children staying over lunchtime at present should bring a packed lunch in a small, labelled lunch box. Lunches need to be refrigerated, or to be provided in an insulated lunch box with a cool pack.

Activities/Events for Parent/carers

As part of the Council’s parenting support, the nursery will be offering the opportunity to take part in a positive parenting programme, “Triple P”. This is an 8-week course at Dr Bell’s Family Centre, which will run on Tuesday mornings from 23rd October. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviour, and would like some advice or support, please speak to a member of staff, who will put you in touch with Rona, from Room 2, who is involved in running the course.

Another event which will be offered to parents/carers during this term will be the “Raising Children with Confidence” course which will be led by Sandra from Dr Bells and myself. Leaflets about the course will be distributed soon. The course will run on Wednesday mornings for seven weeks from 19th September in Dr Bells Family Centre. There will be limited crèche spaces available for younger children. Staff and parents/carers who have already done the course all felt it was one of the best they have ever experienced – we can’t recommend it highly enough! It really opened our eyes about what’s going on in children’s heads, and how we can best help them grow into happy, well balanced adults.

Dr Bells Family Centre

Dr Bells, just next door to Stanwell, is offering a number of activities for parent/carers over the next few months. Some (Bookbug, Funky Feet, Baby Massage, Play Together) are for children and parents, others (Creative Group, Building Confidence and Employability) and for adults. There are posters and leaflets describing the activities throughout the nursery, and I have attached the programme to this newsletter.

Activities for Children

During the first half of this term, the curriculum for the children will include many activities around harvest – picking our fruit and vegetables both in the nursery garden and at the croft, weighing and measuring them, and cooking and eating them. We will also look at the wider harvest in the countryside, at where our bread comes from, and will be making lots of different kinds of breads. Holidays, the seashore and settling in our younger children will also feature.

Once autumn arrives, children will be given the opportunity to explore natural materials such as leaves and conkers, and will be able to reflect their experiences in a wide range of creative activities.

As ever, we will also be responding to children’s individual interests as they arise.

Loose Parts

Some of you commented on the amount of “stuff” lying about, particularly outside. This was a comment made last year too! In order to explain the thinking behind this, I wrote the following paragraph last year. Some of our new families might be interested in reading it, so I have copied it below.

In 1972, the architect Simon Nicolson discovered that “In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” In other words, the more “stuff” lying about, the more creative the children’s play will be! By “stuff” he meant material such as twigs, sticks, leaves, gravel, mud, sand, pine cones, flowers, puddles, shells…….things which don’t have a specific use, but can be used by the children in a variety of ways.

We have certainly found this to be true – since introducing loose parts, the children have been much more settled outdoors, and their play is more creative and imaginative. They are also developing a wider range of skills than they would be playing with more limited plastic toys. It’s more work for the staff – the “stuff” gets everywhere, and there’s a lot of clearing up to do! – but its value for the children’s learning is huge.

The “stuff” also disappears quite quickly, so if you can ever help by contributing materials like shells, pine cones, logs, conkers…. we would be very grateful!

Have you looked at the nursery website recently? Claire posts wonderful photos and information about the exciting things the children have been doing. Please have a look on

Can I remind everyone to please hand in a box of tissues for the new session? That will give us a supply for the whole year.

Finally, can I make my usual request about security around the nursery gate and doors. Please ensure the gate is closed and firmly latched, even if you are only coming in for a minute. It is important to remember to do this even when the children are inside the building.

Also, can you ensure any doors are firmly closed behind you and that you are not taking any extra children along with you when you leave!

Some dates for your diary

Monday 17th September Autumn holiday, nursery closed
Week beginning 24th September Bookbug Explorer Pack arrive
Friday, 12th October Last day of term
Monday  22nd October Staff inservice – nursery closed
Tuesday  23rd October Children return
Wednesday 31st October Hallowe’en
Wednesday 7th November Diwali
Thursday 30th November St Andrew’s Day
Tuesday 18th December Nativity
Thursday 20th December Christmas parties
Thursday 20th  December End of term for afternoon group
Friday 21st December End of term for morning group


With best wishes,

Alison Smith

Head Teacher


Autumn term

Term starts Wednesday 15 August 2018

Mid-term holidays 

  • Monday 17 September 2018,  autumn holiday
  • Monday 15 to Monday 22 October 2018,  mid term break

Term ends Friday 21 December 2018

Christmas holidays

  • Monday 24 December 2018 to Tuesday 8 January 2019


Term starts Wednesday 9 January 2019

Mid-term holidays

  • Monday 11 to Friday 15 February 2019,  mid term break

Term ends Friday 5 April 2019

Easter holidays

  • Monday 8 to Monday 22 April 2019


Term starts Tuesday 23 April 2019

Mid-term holidays

  • Monday 6 May 2019, May Day
  • Tuesday 7 May 2019, staff only in service day
  • Monday 20 May 2019, Victoria Day


Term ends Friday 28 June 2019