Nursery or preschool is the first step on the learning ladder for your child before they begin compulsory school education. It’s a key place for children to develop educational and social skills, as well as build self confidence. Nursery schools tend to offer places for children aged 2 ½ to five years old, but some are open to children from one years. We spoke to Young England Kindergarten, a family-owned nursery in Pimlico, about what we should be looking out for when choosing a nursery and what to expect when visiting for the first time.
What should I look for when choosing a nursery?
If you’re just starting to sit down and look at options, it can be hard to know where to start. When first starting to look at potential nursery schools, here are a few things you should research before arranging a visit:
- Small class sizes and focused activities with teachers
- A good mixture of activities during the week
- Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) based curriculum: it’s obligatory for all Ofsted-registered early years settings to follow the EYFS
- Appropriately qualified teachers
- Music, languages, physical activities (indoors & outdoors) i.e. football, ballet, etc
- A wide variety of educational toys and resources
- Free play with access to a variety of toys and resources
- A good or outstanding Ofsted rating
What will my child be doing at nursery?
Activities will cover a wide range of skills in line with the EYFS’s seven areas of learning. These are:
- communication and language
- physical development
- personal, social and emotional development
- understanding the world
- expressive arts and design
There may also be options for children to have free play, focused activities with teachers, as well as physical activities such as football and ballet.
What should I expect my child to learn at nursery?
At nursery school, children will learn about the world around them (about nature, occupations, customs, and IT). They will develop emotional and social skills, as well as basic communication and language skills. There is also a focus on physical development of fine and gross motor skills. The early stages of literacy and numeracy will also be taught.
Should my child opt for part-time or full-time nursery?
Choosing full-time or part-time is down to personal preference and circumstance, as well as what works best for your child. Young England Kindergarten recommend that your child is attending a nursery by the age of three years.
Are there certain questions I should ask when I visit a nursery?
Visiting armed with a checklist can be helpful. Think about the expectations you have for you child and what you’d like them to get out of going to nursery. Here are a few things worth asking:
- What is your Ofsted rating and can I see a copy of your recent report?
- What is the ratio of focused activities and play time?
- How often do the children go outside during the day?
- What do you offer in your curriculum?
- What is your behaviour policy?
- What is your safeguarding policy?
- Do all staff have paediatric first aid training?
- What type of snack/food do you provide?
- Will my child have a key person looking after them?
- How do you track their learning?
- How do parents access their child’s progress? Meetings or electronically?
On visiting the nursery, what facilities should I look out for? And what should a nursery building look like?
Now you’ve selected the nursery schools to visit, it’s time to see the school. The nursery building should be spacious and airy; colourful and interactive; and safe and accessible. Facilities to look out for should include:
- Outdoor play area
- Well-equipped indoor play & learning area
- Age appropriate loos & wash facilities with a changing area
- Quiet area (book corner)
- Clean & safe kitchen
- Role play corner
What should I expect of the staff?
Nursery staff should be friendly, approachable, communicative, qualified & understanding.
How involved should I expect to be as a parent in my child’s nursery education?
As a parent, involvement is up to you but the best approach is for teachers and parents to work in partnership at school and home. Continuity is key to learning.
What is an OFSTED rating? How much should it impact my decision?
The rating given to an educational institute after an inspection is carried out by The Office for Standards in Education. Ratings range from Outstanding to Inadequate. It is a useful tool to get an understanding of how highly rated the setting is in various areas. Obviously, an Outstanding rating reassures you that all areas are to a high standard. It’s also worth noting the year the inspection last took place.
Tell us what Young England Kindergarten can uniquely offer children.
Established in the 1960s, Young England Kindergarten is one of London’s longest running nursery schools. Principal, Kay King, has been at YEK for over 40 years and the Head Teacher (Manager), Lucinda Byron Evans, for 10 years. The family-owned and operated nursery has an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating and a team of highly qualified and experienced staff who use both contemporary and traditional teaching methods and resources. YEK provide a wide range of activities throughout the week, including music, football, Mandarin, Spanish, yoga, ballet, Tarka and more! On top of this, the nursery have regular guest speakers, outings, access to a large garden and a secure courtyard, continuous assessment of a child’s learning and progress, and expert guidance on choosing a follow-on school. YEK also offer the government’s ‘Universal Entitlement’ funding (15 hours per week) for children aged three and four years.
Visit www.youngenglandkindergarten.co.uk for more information