We have been approached by many people in early years asking us to share our outstanding practice from both Townhouse Nurseries. This includes the early years team in our local authority where we delivered five sessions on supporting Language & Communication as well as from other nurseries who need support in raising the quality of their teaching and practice.
One of our five core values within our nurseries is to be outstanding and we strongly believe that every child should have access to outstanding nursery provision, whether this is through our nurseries or in other settings. This is why we recently hosted another “Sharing Good Practice” session, inviting other local professionals to attend.
Our latest event was around the theme of “Less Paper, More Play” but for me, the greatest achievement from the day was the passion our practitioners demonstrated about their role, the environment, each other and the opportunities they provide our children. This clearly demonstrates our second value, which is to belong; our team are a community who recognise and value each other as unique and equal.
With an hour to go before the first attendees arrived we were all busy ensuring that the environments were looking great. As I took a moment to walk around the nursery I took some time to reflect on what we provide for our children, but specifically our youngest children at nursery, our wonderful, unique babies.
Being a mum to a one year old, I sat myself down in the baby room and thought about my experience as a mum and a day in the life of a baby at our nursery. What looks like a lovely, inviting, homely space for children to explore has been planned carefully by staff who consider each and every one of the children in their care. Research, experience and training ensure that our team know and understand how to meet the needs of the children. Caring for children aged from 3 months to 2 years in the baby room, the environment has been designed to inspire, motivate and challenge children’s learning.
Our area designed specifically for non-mobile babies is calming whilst providing plenty of sensory experiences. The careful use of lighting and neutral colours supports children as they separate from their parents and settle into nursery. The treasure baskets provide adults lots of opportunity to interact with children as they explore what each object can do. Whilst we do not follow one particular approach, there are clear elements of the Reggio Emilia philosophy (http://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/learning-library/articles/reggio-emilia) to supporting children’s development within this room, where the belief is very much about the environment as a child’s “third teacher”. Demonstrating another of our values, the staff’s ability to be creative with open ended resources, lighting and musical instruments enhances the environment further to create an environment that encourages children to play and explore.
In the larger room, there are resources such as balancing steps and our popular “Chatterboxes” to help children in their physical and communication development. As babies develop so does their confidence to explore and be curious about the world around them.
As children get older, staff understand that they are able to play more imaginatively alongside children of different ages. The home area supports the children as they begin to re-enact what they see at home, in their play at nursery. The children all have regular access to the local community and lots of outside play to learn about the wider world but staff have created areas indoors too that encourage the children to investigate, transport and explore natural and messy areas.
So, back to the day of our event and when 9.30am came and visitors walked in to our beautiful children’s environments, they were welcomed by caring, professional and knowledgeable practitioners, just as our families are every day. As they talked through the ‘learning story displays’ or how they support children’s listening skill by using “Babbling Babies” activities, or talked about our simple and effective methods of planning and supporting children’s development, it was clear for me to see our team showing lots of our fifth value – to be determined; determined to be champions for children, for our nursery and for the early years sector as a whole. It was a wonderful event, the feedback was excellent but more than that, the sense of teamwork and belonging between our team – that was truly inspiring and outstanding!