Newsletter – Autumn / Winter 2017

 

1. OUR ANNUAL FOCUS 2017/18 

You may have noticed the two new boards in reception areas of Westerfields House and Tudor Court. These announce our two new focusses. 

In Westerfields we are working on revisiting our Image of the Child with a particular emphasis on the powers of children age zero to three. Loris Malaguzzi's description includes provocative words, rarely heard in UK discussions about early years education: 

'It is necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. This is the image of the child that we need to hold'. 

Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia (1994) 

The answers we have found to our research questions are already enabling us to see more clearly the extraordinary intelligence, strength and beauty of our youngest children.

In Tudor Court we are beginning a focus on The Expressive language of Animation. In a year which focussed on The Many Languages of Friendship 2016/17 we saw children build close relationships with surprising friends: fish in a tank, a dead bumblebee, a snake, their own stories and drawings. Children have a powerful desire to make connections and relationships and their belief that communication with all things is possible, is a radical one. Our new focus grows directly from this learning. When children pick up sticks in the forest and give them characters they are animating, when clay is shaped and moved around it is given life. We have seen children animate stones at the beach, their own hands in shadow play, give life to drawings, found objects, pieces of cloth. 

We will be interested to see where these focusses lead over the coming year. Please take a little time to read the information on each board. 

2. CHILDREN’S WORK ACROSS THE NURSERY & SMALL SCHOOL 

Baby Room: The Baby Room & Toddler Teams learned about the ‘Pikler Approach’ deepening our understanding of how children negotiate the world around them. The Pikler approach is based on a respectful relationship between an adult and infant, through tender care moments, a naturally paced motor development, free movement and uninterrupted play. The training has prompted many interesting discussions amongst the team. Please ask the Baby Room staff for more information or browse here: 

http://thepiklercollection.weebly.com/ 

https://www.choicesfdc.com.au/child-development/the-pikler-approach-to-optimal-early-childhood-development/ 

Toddler Rooms 1, 2 and 3 

Since September we have been busy observing the children’s interactions with the materials and resources within the section. 

Toddler 1 is focussing on expression through mark making, providing different materials - previously black paint and more recently black paper with white chalks - allowing the children to express themselves and make use of both fine and gross motor skills. We have seen some wonderful mark making being displayed.

The Mini Atelier has transformed into an immersion of light and textured materials. Children can engulf themselves with sensorial materials and work with light on a large scale. 

Toddler 2 is working with taste and we have introduced lemons and limes as primary ingredients. The children have been producing a dish everyday supported by one of our chefs leading a cooking session. The children have been tasting the ingredients before and after cooking and we have taken these experiences outdoors using the fire pit and the clay oven. 

Toddler 3 is focussing on construction and projection using the OHP and lightbox to experiment with different construction materials and what shapes and shadows they may project. Large tubes and boxes have also been popular with the children, initiating posting objects down the tubes, climbing in and out of the boxes and using their physical skills to build structures using the boxes in conjunction with other resources. 

Toddler 4 

In the Atelier the children have been exploring the sea and the fish that inhabit it. We have been using a range of materials for the children to manipulate and create with and have offered an immersive environment for them to engage with. The children have shown a strong interest in fish eyes. They have been exploring the circular nature of the eyes and making bubble mixtures in the garden chasing the spheres around the environment. 

We have introduced a tepee to the main room and children have been taking books into this space. In the construction space, the children have delighted in building and reconstructing tall towers. We have introduced transparent and opaque building resources which they have been investigating. 

In the side garden, the children have been constructing a home for the dinosaurs using papier-mâché, paints and clay. We have delighted in observing the children’s confidence growing in moving around the physical environment of the garden and challenging themselves more and more each day.

Pre-school 1 

Over the past 6 weeks we have been watching the children develop their confidence as they settle into their new environments. This has been a great opportunity for the educators to get to know the children, their likes and dislikes and what motivates them. 

The dome room has been transformed into a kitchen café with the children making their bread each day for their peers. They have taken on domestic tasks of preparing snack, ensuring there is clean laundry and preparing the bedding for the rest of Pre-school 1. The children have spent time with the nursery chefs and are enjoying the day-to-day essential tasks. 

Children have been using the small world creatures to explore the water area and interested in filling and emptying the containers there with sand. The children have been in small groups and have started to make up their own songs whilst playing. 

We have introduced some ‘teeny tiny’ shoes into the Communication Room and asked the children where they think they came from and who they might belong to. The children have been fascinated by these shoes and have been wearing them on their fingers. The children have been refining their skills of painting and sculpting teeny tiny things for the shoes and are happily making characters to fit the shoes. 

In the Mirror Room, we have a collection of materials and cardboard boxes for the children to explore in a physical way. The children have been observing each other as they hide themselves inside the boxes and stroking the material in deliberate ways and mimicking each other. Children often use large powerful movements when using their bodies to explore, however in this space the children have been more subdued with subtle moments of interaction. 

The Construction Room has moved to allow the children more space to build and they have been busy constructing landscapes for dinosaurs. The environment has become a space for the children to engage in role play using the variety of materials available to bring their imagination to life. The room has been divided into two sections to allow the children to build using the blocks behind the screen, using the OHP to project 2D shadows onto the screen from their 3D constructions.

Pre-school 2 

In the Outside Atelier and Research Space the children have been exploring Eggs with Shelley. We have been investigating the shape of eggs, the colour variations of eggs, which animals lay eggs and which creatures inhabit the eggs. At present, the children believe that all eggs are kept in nests, except for ‘rabbit eggs’ – which some of the children are convinced exist, although as yet we have found no evidence! 

What will happen if we keep the eggs from the chickens warm? Will they hatch? What will be inside the eggs? We are investigating using our senses of listening, touching, tasting and observing. 

The children in the Little Room have been submerged in an exploration of paper. They have delighted in the movement and stillness of this material. They have been big and bold throwing the paper up high and around and then gathering the material to make nests and lying down covering themselves in the material. We have added in a wire installation and they are sculpting with the paper in 3D using the wire frame. 

In the Construction Room, the children have been building high. We have installed a platform to add height to their creations and they have been using steps and crates to reach as high as they can. Paper has been placed on the wall so children can plot or chart their buildings and they are creating their own blueprints and then working from them to construct their drawings.

The Atelier has transformed into a world of colour following a great interest in the question, ‘What colour is your world?’ The children have created their own tactile colour wheel, carefully matching the gradated colours with piano sticks wrapped in paint, wool and Plasticine. Colour trails have been unrolled on the floor and small Plasticine characters have started to explore these great expanses. 

Animation of these characters has resulted in colour stories which will be explored through different animation techniques including puppetry. ‘Poorly puppet’ has been treated with thermometer sticks as it has been covered in mysterious coloured spots!’ Children are taking the marionette on walks over the coloured trails and for storytelling outside. 

Beach School 

The children have all been very excited starting this year’s Beach School programme and are showing confidence in exploring the new environment. They are delighting in having the opportunity to go far and wide when the tide is low and have been exploring the magnitude of the sea when the tide has been high. When children meet the sea they often want to be in it, getting to know and learning about its properties. We are continuing to support the children in managing their own risks and becoming more familiar with the environment. 

Small School 

In the Small School Atelier the children have been composing music to lure the Sea Monster from his home beneath the sea. They talk about him every time they visit the beach. Since ex-ploring musicality in the Atelier they have discussed how the Sea Monster would like dark music, low music, the type of mu-sic that lives underground, just like the Sea Monster himself. 

Since introducing the cello the children have found the low notes of the cello seem to create the sounds they had imagined, a deep reverberating noise which they believe might lure the Sea Monster from his home to the shore. During their Beach School sessions they took the cello down to the sea to play for the Sea Monster. Some children put on quite dramatic, gestural performances whilst others played quietly.

The story of the Sea Monster has developed in the Atelier and the children are working on their own Sea Monster story which they are making into a book with chapters and illustra-tions. Alongside this they are bringing their story to life through live animation, creating puppets and using shadows in front of footage shot at the beach of rough, tumultu-ous seas. They have created a sound recording area with found objects and have been using sound recorders and 

Mogees to create and layer sounds for effect during their performances. 

In the Small School Montessori Materials Room we are using Montessori materials to support our curriculum. The Montessori approach emphasises learning in harmony with each child's unique pace of development. So, for example when a child shows an interest in writing, they are introduced to the Literacy materials. We introduce a sound at a time to progress to word building with the Large Movable Alphabet. The child's senses are immersed in the exciting world of sounds and letters through their natural curiosity. 

We believe that children have a naturally mathematical mind able to work with repetition, sequencing and order. The Numeracy and Arithmetic materials support and satisfy that sense of order and precision. The Large Number Rods teach fixed quantities and the Sand Paper Numerals equip the child with the knowledge of symbols to label the rods. 

We are showing a short stop-motion film of Small School children at work with the Montessori Materials just outside the parent café in Tudor Court – please come and see the video and one of the staff will offer you a coffee too. 

3. TAPESTRY 

We thought it appropriate to clarify at this point of the year how we use Tapestry at Reflections Nursery and Small School. 

Tapestry is a software tool that has been developed to allow nursery educators to track and record children’s developmental progress and record our observations. There is a requirement for us as educators to make assessments as to how each child is progressing within the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum Guidance (EYFS) and to show evidence for our decisions. The software is designed to record this evidence for children aged from 0 months up to and including 5 years.

We share these observations with you as parents so that you are able to comment, should you choose to, on your child’s development. You are also able to add your own observations of your child’s learning to share with the educators. This sharing of information allows us to better get to know your child and meet their needs. 

We expect our educators to contribute at least 2 detailed observations per month on each child who attends the nursery. This allows us to balance our time between being with the children and carrying out our written work. 

Should you have any questions regarding your child’s development or about tapestry, please speak to the educators caring for your child in the first instance. 

4. DON’T MENTION CHRISTMAS!!!! 

Now that Christmas is fast approaching I would like to take the opportunity to remind you of the dates the Nursery will be closed, as follows: Monday 25th, Tuesday 26th December and Monday 1st January 2018. Should you be taking advantage of the holiday season for some time away or just as some time together, please let our team know as we would like to ensure that as many of our staff can have their holidays with their families too. 

Please feel free to visit our Santa’s Grotto in Tudor Court with your child to receive their gift on the following dates and times: 

Monday 18th December between 9.30am and 11.00am, and between 3.00pm and 4.30pm 

Wednesday 20th December between 3.00pm and 4.30pm, 

Friday 22nd December between 12.30pm and 1.30pm 

We are also looking forward to our annual Christmas dinner which will be served on Thursday 21st December where the staff and children will sit down together for a festive feast. 

5. WINTER CLOTHING 

Now that the colder weather is well and truly upon us, please can we request that your child’s bag is stocked with socks, trousers und underwear as although the children have welly boots and jackets on, they can occasionally get wet and may need some warm dry clothing to change into. We are happy to launder any clothing that is clearly labelled with your child’s name on it. 

Please note, that owing to the risk of suffocation, we do not allow plastic bags in the nursery, so if you need a bag; please ask in the front office.

6. STAFF UPDATES 

With our team growing, we would like to welcome to the team the following new staff: Wendy Brockwell as an experienced Qualified Educator to Toddler 3; Linda Ingram as an experienced Qualified Educator to Toddler 1; Lottie Giles as a Trainee Atelierista - Lottie will be working throughout the nursery supporting the Ateliers whilst studying for her childcare qualification. Alice Blears joins us as an experienced Atelierista with Early Years Teaching Qualification to Pre-School 1. 

We are saying our goodbyes to Aimee Foat, Danielle Jones, Donna Edwards and Kelly Rowbotham who have decided not to return following their maternity leave. Ella Hutchinson from Toddler 2 is leaving to pursue a different career path. I am sure you will join us in wishing them all well. We are delighted to welcome back Holly Jalley from maternity leave in January and Andi Cooper and Lauren Erb who will return in February. 

Our office administrator Jenny Pope is no longer with us as her own business has taken off sooner than expected and Natalie Shorter will be replacing her roles and responsibilities. 

7. PARENTS’ EVENING DATES 

We are delighted to announce the dates of the next Parents’ Evenings as follows: 

Monday 4th Dec: Toddler 4 

Tuesday 5th Dec: Pre-school 1 

Wednesday 6th Dec: Pre-school 2 

Thursday 7th Dec: Babies &Toddlers 1,2,3 

These evening are an opportunity for you to hear about your child’s development and share experiences with your child’s keyperson. The evenings are between 7.00pm until 9.00pm and parents will need to book a meeting time with the respective teams. 

8. CHARITY CHOICE 

We have been fundraising for Children on the Edge in Chichester for some years now and would like to choose a new charity to support over the next couple of years. As parents you are more than welcome to nominate a charity of your choice – we will then shortlist three charities for consideration based on criteria as follows: 10 

- Is the charity associated with children? 

- Is the charity associated with education? 

- Is the charity well-governed? 

- Will the relatively small amounts of money that we can raise make a real difference? 

- Is there a local connection with the charity? 

We will then ask all parents, staff and children to cast one vote each for the charity of their choice. If you wish to nominate a charity, please send your nomination in the first instance to hannah@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk 

9. PARENT FORUM 

The Parent Forum meets on a midweek evening every eight weeks to discuss plans at the nursery – the meetings offer an open forum to raise any issues or concerns along with an opportunity to get more involved in nursery events and to hear first-hand the rationale behind our approach. There are currently 18 members and we welcome new members of the forum at any time. 

Please complete the tear-off slip below if you are interested in joining us or just let Martin know you are dropping in for our next meeting on Tuesday 28th November at 6.30pm – martin@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk 

Best wishes, The Management Team