Edgbaston Kindergarten accommodates children aged from six weeks to five years old in three large areas, The Blue Zone, The Red Zone and The Yellow Zone as follows:-
THE BLUE ZONE (Under 2 Year Olds)
The Blue Zone houses our youngest children under the age of 2. Children are placed in a group within the Blue Zone, according to their level of development, either Cygnets (pre- walkers) or Bears (toddlers). The Blue Zone provides a safe, cosy environment in which we can cherish your child. We know that parents want the same level of care and attention for their children, when they can’t be with them, that they would give them at home, and that is what we aim to provide. It goes without saying that our children receive the best possible physical care, taking into account the latest ‘best practice’ recommendations in childcare. However, we offer much more than this. The Montessori ethos places great importance on intellectual, emotional and social development, even at this early age.
The first of the two play areas is the base room where the children eat, sleep and enjoy creative / messy and table top activities. The second area, is used for physical development and activities to promote hand/eye co-ordination, cognitive, social and language development. Changing facilities are located off the main hallway. The EYFS ensures that our children’s development is monitored at regular intervals, and opportunities are planned to promote the next milestone along the way, be it learning to stand up, scribbling with a crayon or saying that first word. The children can spend time every day cuddling up on a lap with a picture or storybook to develop a close bond with the staff, and an early love of books. Language development is very important for this age group. The children are absorbing all of the knowledge they will need later when they begin to talk themselves. They not only learn the names of objects and actions, they learn about taking turns in conversation, sentence structure, expression and humour. It is vital that young children receive sufficient one to one conversation time to ensure that their language skills are fully developed. At Edgbaston Kindergarten we make sure that each child, whatever their age, is given plenty of opportunity for one to one conversation and is encouraged to respond and interact with the staff.
Physical and messy play are also important for young children. We aim to take our children out for a walk at least twice a week, weather permitting, either to the local park, shops or to the reservoir to feed the ducks. We also have a large garden, of which the Blue Zone have exclusive use at certain times of the day for outdoor play activities. There is also a separate patio area solely for their use, which can be used at any time when the weather is fine. The staff plan a wide range of opportunities to build up muscles and promote co-ordination in the early stages of mobility. Later on, we use a wall mirror behind a handrail in the playroom, which encourages pre-walkers to pull themselves up and allows them to cruise around the room, which promotes their walking skills. We have a variety of toys and equipment to develop a wide range of physical skills once the babies become more mobile.
We have a ‘No Crying’ policy throughout Edgbaston Kindergarten, which ensures that staff will always take action to identify and remedy the cause of any crying. You may notice the difference when you first visit the nursery. Visitors often comment on the lack of crying in all of the rooms and that there is a general happy “hum” instead. This is not just in the interests of the children but it is to protect the staff from the stress of working all day with crying children. Providing this level of care and stimulation requires a high number of staff. The legal requirement is one member of staff to every three children under 2, the equivalent of a mother looking after triplets! We are fortunate to be able to have an additional member of staff to improve this ratio. This means that we have time to do a lot more than just keep the children clean, fed and dry – we can play with them and make sure that they are stimulated and happy as well. The staff take parents’ preferences into account and the children’s established routine is followed on joining the Kindergarten, subject to compatibility with the nursery’s child centred Montessori ethos. We ask parents to provide their child’s usual nappies, wipes, formula or expressed breast milk and we do the rest.
Our fees include all nursery meals , which can be mashed up if necessary. However we leave it up to parents to decide when they want to wean their babies and if they wish to send in baby food, powdered or expressed breast milkfrom home we deduct £1 per day from the fees.
At Edgbaston Kindergarten, we don’t only look after the children in our care. We know how difficult it can be for parents to adjust to having a new baby in their lives. When the stress of returning to work is added to disturbed nights and feelings of loss or guilt about leaving their child at nursery, parents can naturally become extremely anxious. We aim to make the transition back to work as smooth as possible by offering support, advice, and as much information as you want on your child’s day at nursery. We offer a short, free, Induction Session during which we collect the information we need to settle your child quickly and easily into the Kindergarten. Once your child has joined us we keep a daily diary, which we complete and send home and we ask you to fill in as well to inform us in the morning of any changes to your child's routine. This ensures the continuity of care between home and the Kindergarten, and prevents important information being forgotten when your child is handed over.
THE RED ZONE (2 – 3 years old)
The Red Zone accommodates the two year olds. The Bears usually move up to Red Zone in the term after their 2nd birthday subject to space. There is a transition phase with individual Bears visiting the Red Zone over a few weeks to become familiar with the group before they finally move.
The children follow the EYFS programme using Montessori methods, which includes a range of opportunities to develop communication, creative, mathematic, cognitive, physical, personal and social skills. There is plenty of time for free play and lots of romping in our large secure garden. The timetable and weekly planning ensure that all areas of the children’s development are nurtured to produce a well-balanced range of activities. Each child is seen as an individual with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. We monitor the children carefully to identify less well-developed areas and adjust our planning to provide further opportunities for development.
The Red Zone is very relaxed and the children are always given the time they need to complete their chosen activity. There are several different areas within the room for different types of activities and resources are arranged so that the children can choose their own activities during ‘free choice’ sessions. We also have several planned activities both for the group, the Zone and on a one to one basis during the day. We encourage the children to take part in group activities but if they would rather do their own thing then that’s fine. We usually find that their natural curiosity is sufficient to get them involved.
There is a selection of books in the room and the children spend some time each day curled up on a lap looking at them and pointing out named objects in the pictures. This helps to increase the children’s vocabulary, develop hand/eye co-ordination and gives them an early interest in books and reading. At this age, the children seem to be pre-programmed for learning the names of objects and they are eager to learn new words. We make full use of this phase to introduce as many new words as we can, including the names for numbers, shapes, colours and letters. No one is surprised when a two-year-old child looks at a picture of a cow and says, “Moo”, and it is just as easy for the same child to look at a picture of the letter b and says “Buh”, it is purely a matter of association. It is much easier to introduce phonics at this age when it is exciting than at four years old when it can become boring and repetitive and they could be learning much more interesting things. The children learn through playing games and listening to the staff who are constantly talking to them about what’s going on throughout the day. We don’t spend hours showing them endless supplies of flash cards and videos. It is very important to keep activities short to make the most of the children’s attention span and extend the activities as they get older. The staff are very good at noticing when the children are starting to get restless and will distract them with something different as soon as they do.
At this age, children are mainly motivated by a desire for adult attention. If they can’t get it when they behave well they will get it by behaving badly enough to ensure that they can’t be ignored. At home, parents have other demands on their time such as housework, shopping and other adult visitors so they can’t always give their child their attention whenever they want it. Our staff have the advantage of having nothing else to do but play with the children so we are able to give them our full attention all of the time. As a result the children’s behaviour is usually extremely good and we only get the occasional hiccup if toys are snatched or children won’t share. We encourage good behaviour by praising the children for behaving well and, where possible, ignoring unwanted behaviour. Where this isn’t possible the staff will develop a behaviour management programme. This might involve close observation to identify what initiates the behaviour, drawing up a Play Plan to minimise any provoking factors, removing the child from the situation or distracting him if the behaviour starts and showing strong disapproval of any physical aggression towards others. Our staff are trained to moderate their tone of voice (never shouting) and facial expressions to show approval or disapproval.
THE YELLOW ZONE (3 +)
The Yellow Zone accommodates our oldest children depending on their developmental progress. We would expect a child to be toilet trained, able to hold a simple conversation and ask and answer questions before moving into Yellow Zone. Children enter the Yellow Zone either directly on joining the Kindergarten or by moving up from Red Zone. There can be a wide range of abilities within the group with some children joining from other nurseries and some who may not have been to nursery before. We observe and monitor each child to ensure that they are offered activities, which are appropriate for their level of development. The joiners quickly catch up with the rest of the group because they see what they can already do and want to copy them. Some children are 3 by the start of the academic year but are not quite ready to enter Yellow Zone so they may stay in Red Zone, where there is more emphasis on acquiring language and completing toilet training, until they are ready and will then move in to Yellow Zone later in the year.
The Yellow Zone children are split into two groups for some activities and each group has a qualified Key Person. They plan and deliver separate group and 1 to 1 activities for the children’s levels of development. The groups combine for whole Zone activities for part of the day so the two groups mix freely. Combining groups for activities, such as Expresive Art and Design, Physical Development or Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PS&E), allows the younger children to learn from the older ones and the older children can develop a sense of responsibility and caring for the younger ones. However, separating into differentiated groups for activities such as Maths, Communication and Language and Literacy, and Understanding the World (UW) ensures that the learning opportunities are aimed at the right level for them so that they aren’t bored or out of their depth. All of the children follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which continues into the school reception class and then leads into Key Stage 1 of the National curriculum.
The Yellow Zone is equipped for all EYFS and Montessori activities and has different areas for different types of play. French windows give direct access onto the Outdoor Classroom so that activities can easily be taken outside in good weather. The Outdoor Classroom includes an herb, fruit and vegetable garden that the children tend and the plants they grow are used in our Healthy Living programme. The Yellow Zone children have use of the whole garden but there is an adventure play area kept just for their use with a tree house and a more challenging climbing frame. Meals are taken in the Yellow Zone and there is a ‘quiet area’ for taking a rest if they need one. The children have usually outgrown their regular afternoon naps but if they still need them they can join the Red Zone for a nap after lunch.
The daily programme of activities and the lunch menu are displayed on the notice board for parents’ information. The children in the Red and Yellow Zones don’t have daily diaries because their eating and sleeping routines are already established but if there has been a problem during the day, parents will be informed on collection. We try to make time to have a chat with each child’s parent on every day that they attend, either in the morning or afternoon and the Key Persons’ shifts are varied during the week to allow for that. If your child’s Key Person has left before you arrive there should always be another member of their Zone’s staff who has been with your child during the day to pass on any information that you require and tell you about your child’s day. If parents have any concerns that they wish to discuss more privately than in the usual daily chat, an appointment can be made through Anna Jacobs by telephoning the office. We prepare written reports on the children’s development for parents’ information, towards the end of the academic year and arrange Parents’ Evenings to discuss them. These reports rarely hold any surprises because we will have discussed any concerns we may have previously but they are helpful for parents in monitoring progress and can be passed on to schools.
Our aim is to help each of our children to achieve the best that they can in all areas of their development by extending them in their areas of talent and supporting them in their weaker areas. When the children leave to start school they have the confidence to know that if they treat others with respect, try their best and ask for help when it’s needed, they can achieve anything. What better start can you offer a child?
SETTLING YOUR CHILD INTO EDGBASTON KINDERGARTEN
When children join the Kindergarten we encourage parents to attend a free, short induction visit with the child to discuss his routine and to see him interacting with our staff. It gives us a chance to gather the information we need to settle him in quickly and easily and to answer any questions about the Kindergarten routines. During this visit we will ask you to leave the room for a few minutes so that we can assess how your child reacts to being left alone with the staff and other children and if he shows signs of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety (SA) is a natural instinct, which develops to protect babies from wandering away from their parent, once they become mobile. It usually starts once they can crawl and gradually fades away when the child has learnt that parents still exist when they are out of sight and always eventually reappear. If a child is not used to being away from a parent or is normally carried all the time at home, rarely being put down to play, he may still have SA and it may take longer to settle him in. If this is the case, we usually recommend additional induction sessions over a week, if possible, with the parent leaving the room for increasing lengths of time until the child has built up his confidence.
Each Zone at Edgbaston Kindergarten is supervised by a designated, experienced Room Supervisor, qualified to Level 3 or above, who is assisted by nursery nurses who are either qualified or are training towards childcare qualifications. We carry out reference and police checks on all of the staff employed at the nursery. We have structured internal and external training sessions for all staff to ensure that standards are maintained and qualifications kept up to date. Because we have a high level of educational activities, we need a high staffing level to provide one to one attention when required. Our staff to child ratios are therefore amongst the highest for the profession, which enables us to cover staff holidays and other absences with our own nursery nurses rather than bringing in agency staff with whom the children are unfamiliar. Most staff have been trained in basic food hygiene and Paediatric First Aid and there are also designated S.E.N.C.O., DSL, Health and Safety and Equal Opps officers.
We provide breakfast to children who arrive before 9.00 a.m. and a mid- morning and mid-afternoon snack and drinks throughout the day to all children over 6 months of age. We encourage the children to develop healthy eating habits and we ensure that they receive a well balanced diet. We prepare all of the snacks on the premises and avoid highly processed foods. The children are offered fresh fruit every day.
Lunches are prepared by outside caterers who specialise in supplying nurseries. They provide freshly cooked, non-processed, well-balanced meals with a vegetarian or Halal option available daily. Parents of babies supply formula or expressed breast milk and baby foods until their child has been weaned (see Blue Zone section). Meals are included in the fees but if parents opt for packed lunches we make a deduction of £1 per day. Please note that we are unable to reheat packed lunches and we do not allow sweets, chocolate, crisps or nuts to be brought in from home. This is due to a combination of promoting healthy eating habits, respecting parental preferences and reducing the risk of allergic reactions within the nursery.
FOREST SESSIONS, VISITS & OUTINGS
We think it is very important for children to get outside and explore their environment so we take all of the children outside to play every day, in all weathers. We also have a visiting Biology teacher who delivers Forest sessions to the older children to expand their understanding of nature, usually twice per week. Because of this it is very important that parents send their children in to nursery every day with appropriate clothing that is warm, waterproof and suitable including a waterproof coat, wellies, gloves and hats with thick trousers and tights in winter and a sun hat, long sleeved T shirt, trousers and ‘jellies’ in summer.
We usually take the children off the premises for outings once per week. Regular visits are made on foot to Summerfield Park, Edgbaston Reservoir, The Mobile Library, and local shopping trips . The older children will sometimes travel by bus to the City Centre to visit the museum, art gallery, central library and China Town, or occasionally further afield to Dudley Zoo or the Nature Centre. The local trips are usually spur of the moment to make the best of the weather so parents are not always informed beforehand. If you intend to collect your child before 4p.m. please mention this when you drop off in case we go out.