22nd November 2017
Winter is almost here and we’ve been having a busy time, celebrating Hallowe’en, Diwali and Bonfire Night, working on road safety and litter prevention, plus raising money for Children in Need! We managed to raise £100 for this worthwhile cause – thanks very much to everyone who contributed.
There have been some mix-ups over children’s hats recently in nursery. Can I ask you all to check that hats, scarves, gloves etc. are all labelled with your child’s name so that any confusion can be easily resolved? Thank you.
Parents/carers of pre-school children should be aware that registration with catchment schools should now have been completed. If you have not been along to your local school to put your child’s name down, you should do so as soon as possible. If you would like to request an out-of-catchment place, there is an on-line form to complete – please ask a member of staff if you are unsure. Even if you are planning to make an out of catchment request, you should still register with your catchment school as a fallback.
It is worth remembering that children whose fifth birthday falls in January/February 2019 could have an extra nursery year if parents and staff feel it would be beneficial. Children reaching five between September and December 2018 can also delay school entry if a sufficiently strong case can be made. You should be aware, however, that the threshold for approving September – December deferrals is quite high, and many are rejected by the council – it is felt that the early level of a Curriculum for Excellence supports a positive transition between nursery and primary.
Paperwork for deferrals will be out early in the spring term and applications need to be made before the end of March. However, even if you are considering deferral, you need to register your child with a school now, and withdraw their name later.
Parent consultation sessions for children eligible for school in August 2018 took place last week. If you missed this opportunity to come along and discuss your child’s progress with staff, and would still like to do so, please speak to staff in the rooms to arrange a time. Parent/carers of our younger children will have the opportunity to meet with staff next term.
Mobile Phones in the Classrooms
The Care Inspectorate has indicated that the use of mobile phones in nursery classrooms should not be permitted. You are welcome to use your phone in Room 3, while you are settling your child, for example, but the expectation is now that parents/carers put phones away when passing through the classrooms and playground.
There are some major events in the calendar over the next few weeks. Our “Grand Jar Sale” will take place on Friday 15th December. The jar sale was a big success last year. We asked each family to fill and decorate a glass jar (eg a jam jar) with sweets, party bag toys, crayons or marbles etc. We then sold the jars for £1 in aid of nursery funds. We will have some examples in the classrooms to give you inspiration – if you don’t have a suitable jar, we can give you one in nursery. The jars generated a lot of excitement last year and the event was a lot of fun.
The annual Christmas Raffle will be drawn on Monday 18th December at 9am. Parents and staff will be collecting prizes from local shops and businesses (if you know of anyone who would donate a voucher, or prize, please let us know). Boxes for contributions to the prize hamper will be out shortly in both rooms.
Our Nursery Nativity, which has been such a success over the past few years, will be on Tuesday 19th December, 9.30am and 2pm. More details nearer the time.
Personalised Santa plates will be on sale again in December. If you would like your child to have their own named plate for Santa’s mince pie and the reindeer’s carrots on Christmas Eve, put your order in to staff in early December.
Both morning and afternoon parties will be on Thursday 21st December, 9.30-11.30am and 1-3pm. Children should attend for the party time only. Parents/carers are invited to join us at 11am or 2.30pm for Santa’s visit and to hear the children sing some Christmas songs. We will be asking everyone at the beginning of December to contribute £3 towards the cost of the present from Santa and the party food.
Over the next couple of weeks, the children will be planting bulbs, tidying up our garden for the winter, and celebrating St Andrew’s Day. Next Friday, the countdown to Christmas will begin!
Some dates for your diary:
|Scottish celebration||28th – 30th November|
|Grand Jar Sale||Friday 15th December|
|Nativity||Tuesday, 19th December|
|Morning Christmas party||Thursday 21st December|
|Afternoon Christmas party||Thursday 21st December|
|End of term(Morning children only)||Friday 22nd December|
|Children return||Tuesday 9th January|
Finally, can I, as ever, remind you to close and latch the nursery gate, even when all the children are inside? Thank you.
Update on Nursery Environments
Many of you will have noticed that there have been some changes in the way both playrooms have been set out this term. We have reduced the amount of furniture, tried to create more open spaces, introduced materials that are more natural, focused on calming colours and generally tried to de-clutter.
This has been in response to a considerable body of research, which has indicated that children learn best in environments that are calm, organised, aesthetically pleasing and full of natural materials – not those that are over-stimulating, too bright, busy and distracting.
“Classroom environments are public statements about the educational values of the institution and the teacher. Arrangement of space- including desks, tables, materials available, and what is displayed on the walls – conveys messages about the relationship between teaching and learning, the image of the child held by the teacher, and the expectations for behaviour and learning within that setting” Patricia Tarr, 2004
So, what is our image of the child, and what sort of environment would reflect this? What does our environment look like to the most important people in it, the children?
One of the first things we did was create a much more open and welcoming entrance area in each classroom – ensuring it was open and welcoming at child level as well as adult level. We can’t do much about the tiny entrance hall in the nursery, but at least, once you are in the classrooms, everyone should feel welcome and valued.
The philosophy of nursery education values play, autonomy and self-confidence, challenge, emotional and physical wellbeing, curiosity and creativity. How could our environment better support this?
Nursery educators have always recognised the impact of the environment on learning. There is a famous Italian tradition of nursery education in the town of Reggio Emilia which describes the environment is the child’s third teacher. In the early 1800s, Freidrich Froebel, who developed the first kindergartens, compared designing a room for children to planning an ever-changing garden, to stimulate their imagination and guide their behaviour. Margaret McMillan, one of the pioneers of nurseries in early twentieth century Britain, said she was “trying to create an environment where learning will be almost inevitable”.
In nursery, the main way children learn is through play. It provides the opportunities to develop autonomy, creativity, imagination and social skills. How could our environment better support children’s play?
In the classrooms, there are activities, which are offered all the time – sand, water, block play, arts and crafts, home corner, book corner, small world, playdough. We have tried to look at each of these areas from the child’s perspective, and provide within them a choice of flexible, challenging, stimulating resources to engage their interest and motivation. “Loose parts” allow for choice and autonomy, freedom and creativity. We try to avoid being over-prescriptive and use open-ended resources which allow the children the opportunity to modify their environment and develop their own ideas.
The “less is more” principle.
Nursery classrooms used to be full of bright colours on the walls, the furniture, and the resources. Research has now indicated that this over-stimulation can hinder children’s learning.
“Primary colours should be used cautiously, too many may make children distracted and agitated or cause them to shut down their senses” (Pairman and Terreni 2001).
Too many bright colours like red and yellow can cause increased arousal and high levels of anxiety, whereas cool colours evoke calm, relaxed feelings. The children and their work bring a lot of colour into an environment – we have tried, therefore, to keep the basic environment neutral and calming, our walls less cluttered and our resources as natural as possible.
Finally, we have arranged the rooms in a way that allows the children more freedom to free-flow from one area to another – and to have some resources, which can be moved freely around the room. We have tried to do this in a way, which is aesthetically pleasing for adults as well as children – we hope it pleases you too.