The Knightsbridge Kindergarten is a successful London nursery, and was opened by owner Beverly Delfgou twenty-two years ago. More recently, eight years ago Beverly decided to expand her portfolio of Ofsted Outstanding nurseries for west London littlest ones, with a new nursery in Kensington. She has recently opened a second location in Kensington. Both Kensington based nurseries have been named ‘The Kensington Kindergarten’ and operate independently, one near Holland Park and the other in Kensington Square.

In this interview with My Baba, we asked Beverly’s advice on things to consider when choosing a nursery, all about her formula for success, and how her London nurseries are a fantastic place for children to begin their education. 

What makes your nurseries unique/different from other nurseries?

Our nurseries are family owned and run. I am very present at all the nurseries. This is not just a job for me, I have a passion for the education of young children. I am always looking for the next thing in educating this age group. For instance, we will introduce new methods where we feel the children will benefit from a different approach to teaching maths, literacy, physical literacy.

What makes your nursery outstanding?

The effectiveness of the leadership is of the utmost importance. Regular staff meetings are essential, school policies are reviewed regularly and understood by the staff. Keeping up with new techniques and updating staff training are all vital aspects of an outstanding school. Having strong relationships with every member of staff is something I encourage our head teachers to do. I have always done this myself as I feel that a happy team reflect in the children’s learning and confidence building.

A high standard of teaching with every staff member being offered further training in areas that are of interest to them benefits the whole team.

A good nursery is a place where children make steady progress, are happy and well provided for. An outstanding nursery goes the extra mile. Everyone in our nurseries are fully invested in the children’s learning and they have a thorough understanding of child development. They are creative and original in their planning and each child feels valued for who they are.

Our teachers make sure that our nursery is a caring, warm, nurturing environment where children feel safe and their individual needs are met. Our teaching staff are our biggest asset and I am grateful for their enthusiasm and expertise every day.

Tell us a little bit about the culture/ethos at all three Kindergartens.

At our nurseries we aim to create a warm, nurturing environment where the education we offer our children is a balance between formal learning and learning through play. Our motto is ‘learning is fun’ and we make sure that the children love every minute of their time at our nursery. Our ethos is that the children actively lead their own development with no pressure on them. From the day a child starts at our nursery, we work towards a gentle preparation for the next step in the child’s life. Our children rely on us for comfort, security and support in helping them explore the big world around them. Children learn in many different ways and we ensure that we enable them to expand their knowledge. Good manners and good behaviour are encouraged by our teachers.

How important is it for children living in London to have access to outdoor space within their school hours and tell us a bit about the facilities your nurseries offer?

It’s very important to have access to outdoor space whether that is on the school grounds or by making the most of the parks we have on our doorstep. London has so much to offer and all of our settings are close to open spaces which we use regularly.

Every child learns and grows at a different rate – do you look out for any potential learning issues in children at this tender age, and what typically might you find / action you might take?

True, each child grows at a different rate and we encourage children to find their own learning style. What works for one may not work for another and our teachers are experienced in identifying if a child needs additional support, whether it’s from us within the setting or an external professional. We work together with parents to ensure their child is supported where necessary and we are here every step of the way.

How easy is it to motivate young children and how well do they respond to structured learning?

Children feel secure when they know and understand what is happening next. We use visual timetables to show them what is happening each day which avoids any unease during transitions between rooms or activities.

Our teachers are positive energetic people and their enthusiasm is infectious! This motivates the children to get involved and gives them the confidence to try new things without embarrassment or worry about getting it wrong.

The day is structured, but the children have time through the day to engage in their own games during free play, the role-play room or soft play room.

We’re hearing more about anxiety issues in young children appearing at primary school age – is this something you can pick up on nursery level?

Naturally, some children are quieter or need more comfort and reassurance than others and we are able to pick up on this very quickly. We do all we can to ensure the children feel secure and safe with us and leave us as confident young people who are ready to face the next part of their life. To us this is one of the most important things you can give a child.

How are the quieter children who might not fit in so quickly made to feel at home?

We embrace children with all kinds of personalities. Do they want to run around at top speed for 10 minutes in the playground? That’s ok. Do they want to sit quietly and read a book on their own? That’s ok too. No one should be made to do anything that makes them uncomfortable and confidence can’t be forced. The best thing you can do for a new child is take everything at a speed they are comfortable with.

What can we, as parents do to help our children settle in at a new nursery?

Talk to them about their nursery, take them to visit and make the most of settling in sessions if they offer them. This is an opportunity for the child to visit their new school and meet their teacher. When your child starts nursery, one of the most important things is to always say goodbye. It may seem easier to disappear while they are distracted but they will settle much quicker when they understand what is happening; you arrive at nursery and say good morning to your teacher and friends, give mummy/daddy a kiss and a cuddle and you will see them later.

Understandably, leaving your child while they are crying is heart wrenching, but in our experience this is the easiest way. Every day becomes a little bit easier and within a few days, a couple of weeks, the child will happily wave goodbye to their parent at the door, much to the chagrin of the parent, who feels their child has grown up too fast. Luckily for us, our parents trust us and follow our advice.

What are the top three things a parent should look out for when choosing their nursery?

Children who are engaged and happy, enthusiastic teachers and above everything else, always trust your instincts. Choosing a nursery for your child (when they are only a few months old), when you do not know their character is a difficult decision to make. If you feel comfortable while you’re there, it is likely your child will too. You can see 20 nurseries but when you get that feeling, you’ll know.

The Knightsbridge Kindergarten has always enjoyed a low turnover of staff, with many of their teachers enjoying careers spanning well over a decade. It’s clear there’s an optimistic, cheerful outlook that reverberates among both staff and children in all three Kindergartens. The calm and friendly environment is conducive to mental and physical development and growth. Children are taught to care for and respect each other and their teachers. It’s this culture and approach that sets all three schools apart from the rest.

All three nurseries are brilliantly equipped with spacious classrooms, sensory rooms and soft play rooms. There’s a firm focus on physical literacy, and a strong emphasis on outdoor learning, with each nursery holding a forest school day at least once a week.

Their mission across all three nurseries is to fuel children with confidence and enthusiasm for learning through play and structured lessons, while encompassing a balance of free choice.

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