Parents Newsletter – February 2019

A warm welcome to our February Newsletter with information about Parent’s Evenings and the opening of bookings for our 2019/20 Forest School programme for all 3-year olds. 

We would like to send warm wishes to the families who have recently joined the nursery or the Small School and may we say a huge thank you to those of you who continue to support Reflections by recommending us to friends and colleagues. 

1. CHILDREN’S WORK ACROSS THE NURSERY 

Baby 1 Room - We have been looking closely at how babies use their hands and whole bodies to manipulate the clay on offer in the Baby Room. As the clay dries, we have been adding water to soften it and the babies have been intrigued by this, pulling the clay apart and pressing it down on different surfaces. 

As they begin to play in parallel with one another, we have introduced mirrors and reflections for the babies to see themselves and each other and to encourage further explorations with the clay.

Toddler 1, 2 & 3 Rooms 

The children have been continuing their charcoal explorations in Toddler 1 adding water and using pipettes to drop the media onto paper and discovering what possibilities it has as it makes a mark. Does this differ as the lightboxes are used as an enhancement to their explorations? 

In Toddler 2, the children have begun to explore their sense of smell as they become more familiar with new ingredients. These have been used in their cooking, or as sensory additions to filling and emptying investigations. 

In Toddler 3, the children have been exploring storying through clay, printing and open-ended exploration with natural materials. They have continued to use these different types of media as they communicate with their peers, sharing their explorations with a sense of togetherness whilst finding a sense of self as they show curiosity in the mirrors. 

Toddler 4 Rooms In the construction space the children are making pathways collaboratively in the form of ‘bridges’ or ‘train tracks’ to walk along. We have attached hooks and eyes to the blocks for them to link together and pull along or create different shapes. The coloured blocks are being used as beds for the little people and they have begun using names for them, like ‘Mummy’ and ‘Me’. The larger blocks are becoming different modes of transport for them to ride on and use in role play. 

The children are really engaged with the actions of filling and emptying using oats and various sized pots and jugs – the basis of mathematics and calculation. They are role-playing using the resources to distribute tea party food and breakfast among their friends. They have also been experimenting with mark-making on trays, making lines through the oats and exploring their movements. We will add some mirrored trays to enhance this experience. 

The children are still working on breadmaking and taking it in turns to mix and add the ingredients. We will be introducing different types of breadmaking to include; pitta, flat bread and naan bread.

We have been looking closely at different fruit and vegetables for the children to replicate, bake and paint using salt dough. The children can then use these handcrafted fruit and vegetables in their kitchen role play activities. 

Toddler 4 Atelier - Through the dark woods and behind a variety of doorways large and small, the children are squirreling away their woodland animals or transporting them through the different gateways. They have been hiding in ‘Stickman’s Dark House’ or deliberately trapping themselves in tiny spaces then revealing themselves with loud giggles. 

The Stickmen pass through the different areas, getting stuck (and sticky!) and in need of rescuing. The children are becoming masters of their space, sculpting and smoothing clay or engineering the caged space to suit their play and growing imaginations. All these ideas are glued together through carefully chosen books and stories we share with each other and are beginning to know by heart. 

Toddler 4 Side Garden - The children have shown great interest in sound and we have added to the drums with pots and pans hanging from the tree. 

This area has a myriad of different sounds that the children can experiment with by banging and swinging back and forth in a pendulum motion. They can explore timing and volume through watching each other and mimicking or through individual investigations around the music tree. 

Pre-school 1 Rooms 

Construction Room - Cardboard boxes and tubes have been added to the environment on each side of the shadow screen. Children are using the smaller ones to build and connect and have discovered a way of fitting the larger ones onto their arms and legs. We are looking at how their bodies move differently this way and have shared images of cardboard robots and characters to encourage these explorations. 

Communication Room - The children are continuing to explore different trails around the room using moveable wooden planks, whilst welcoming the mice who have come back to visit and the connections they make with the snails. The children have been discussing what the snails and mice are doing as they manoeuvre them around the room and explore the homes that the children have created for them.

Atelier - We are looking at ‘Pareidolia’ - finding faces in everyday objects. The children have been working with clay to make their own creations with faces. We have a volcano, a castle and a triangle that the children have brought to life with different facial features. 

Elsewhere in Pre-School 1, we have been exploring different fruit, using the juicer and mixer and collecting from the edible garden to add to our mixes. Whilst in the experimentation area we have been investigating cornflour and testing our theories about what might happen If we add water and food colouring. 

Pre-school 2 Rooms

You may have noticed that work in The Little Room has now moved the old ‘Construction Room’, and the Construction experiences have moved to ‘The Little Room’ by the front entrance. We will be re-naming these spaces to avoid confusion. 

The Little Room work – we have been observing the effects which occur when ink meets water. The children control their own experiments and we have introduced marbling trays with ink and paper to further their explorations of the way ink, water and oil behave.

Atelier - Continuing the dramatic stories about safe, dark spaces and the unknown monster, the children have begun discussing ways in which they can communicate with him. They have questions they want to ask and secret messages to give to him. 

Using some of our knowledge from the focus on Mechanics and making things move, we are now thinking of ways we can send our messages to each other in different parts of the room; and simple inventions we can make to ensure our messages arrive at the right place! 

Construction Room – The children have been re-visiting familiar and experiences in this new location. An introduction of small world characters has led to the beginning of non-verbal stories, which the children present to each other in different ways. We have been recording the children and offering them the opportunity to view themselves telling their stories as well as continuing to make new ones.

Atelier of Taste - The children have been continuing their experiments with infusion, incorporating different machines into their experiences. We have been focusing on creating infused water and ice cream, having discussions about they different flavours they would like to add and how they think this may alter the original flavour. The groups have been testing out a variety of hand mixers to help with their ice cream making, discussing how they work and the effect they have on different liquids such as cream, or soapy water. 

Forest School 

After discovering a huge fallen tree in the forest, the children have been keen to practice their climbing skills. Using their bodies in different ways, they set themselves goals to reach the highest point of the tree, tackling winding branches. Children have been helping one another, giving instructions from ground level.

In the cold weather, we discovered thick sheets of ice over the puddles which the children have been exploring in many ways. They are fascinated with looking through the ice to see their friends or different shapes they see inside. 

Many of the children have taken an interest in writing and exchanging letters to one another so we have introduced typewriters in the Coach House for them to do this. We also used wood from the forest to make our own charcoal on the fire. One group have even collected dead wood and crushed it down and are working on making their own paper. 

Beach School 

The children have been exploring many physical movements at the beach recently. They have developed strength and confidence when moving in the shallow waves. They have tried and tested different techniques when rolling down the stones. 

Visiting Dave, the fisherman is always a keen interest. The children are fascinated by the daily catch and always have many questions for Dave. We have bought a range of fish to bring back to nursery such as plaice, brill and seabass and have explored the fish through cooking and tasting. And we have even been printing using the fish bones!

Small School 

As part of our focus on Mechanics and Engineering the children in Small School have been exploring printmaking. Although this is still a highly creative and inventive language to work in, it also has methods and procedures that are mechanical and technical in nature. It has been a period of brilliant discoveries and collaborations. 

Experiments with stamp printing, ink and rollers have led the children to try out many different objects to make and receive printed images. We introduced the book, ‘Square’ by Mac Barnett and Jan Klassen as a strong visual prompt for simple story-making as its illustrations are striking and brilliantly funny though only made from simple printed shapes. The children have picked up this story and are running with it, constructing their own shape and letter blocks to begin a parallel story with new characters. Their printing, writing and story construction is now coming together in ‘Hole’, their own book which will be shared with other children in the nursery.

In the Alphabet Room (the small room adjoining the Atelier) experiments in text, printing and book-making have enabled us to look closely at letter shapes and formation, orientation, lower and upper case comparisons and sentence structure. Decorative as well as functional aspects of language learning are working well side by side.

As the children’s skills in printmaking increase they are turning their attention to representing the highly complex systems inside the human body. They are especially interested in the heart, blood flow, and the messages the brain sends for internal organs to work as they need. We are supporting this interest through the graphic languages of drawn diagrams, print illustration and extensive conversations about how things work. 

In the Montessori Room children access the Montessori Numeracy Materials and some Sensorial Materials including the construction blocks - Pink Tower, Broad Stair and Long Rods - and a large collection of books. We are now using this space for our regular Italian lessons with Gloria, our native speaker.

2. STAFFING UPDATE 

Nursery Manager Role - As most of you will now know we have confirmed Becca Bakter as Manager of Reflections Nursery. Becca has been with Reflections since its inception in 2006 and has proven herself to be a strong, reliable and very competent member of our team. Becca studied in Reggio Emilia in 2010 and gained her BA in Professional studies Learning & Development in 2014. We am sure you will all join us in congratulating her on the well-deserved confirmation of her role. 

Katie Brookes has joined our Small School team as their part-time Atelierista with a BA (Hons) in Illustration and a Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Drawing School. Katie has already settled in wonderfully and she and the children are enjoying their project work experiences.

Eve Hardcastle joins us as an additional part-time Atelierista in Pre-School 2 with a BA (Hons) in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art & Design. Eve has worked as an Atelierista before and has already brought her enthusiasm to the ink experiments in Pre-school 2. 

We also would like to welcome Vivienne, Jodie and Taisa who join the nursery team as Apprentices, training towards their Early Years Educator qualification; and Sophie Delafons who joins us as a Qualified Educator and as part of our support staff team whilst she continues her studies at the University of Sussex. 

We are sad to say goodbye to Linda who worked in our Toddler section as she leaves to spend some quality time as a new Grandma. However, we are delighted to welcome back Fran Barker who left us last year but has re-joined the team last week in our Toddler section as a Qualified Educator. 

We are delighted to inform you that Sian Northmore gave birth to Luca on Friday 21st December… and Becki Di Paola became a mummy to Sergio on New Year’s Day! Both families are doing well, and we are sure that you will join us in congratulating them on their new arrivals. 

3. PARENT QUESTIONNAIRES 

We recently sent out questionnaires by email asking families for any feedback as we are constantly working to improve our offering. 

If you have not already responded we have made things even easier and the questionnaire is now set up on Survey Monkey, here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9MWG96Y 

If you would like a pre-printed copy of the questionnaire to complete, please ask in the front office of Westerfields or Tudor Court. A huge thankyou in advance for your time.

4. NEW PARENT FORUM PLANS 

Since 2006 Reflections has met with parents at Forum meetings to discuss the operation of the nursery. In recent times the group has mainly comprised parents of children attending Reflections Small School, which has different priorities to the nursery. 

It is therefore our intention to create two Parent Forums – one for Small School parents, and another for the nursery parents. The dates for the next meetings are below: 

Nursery Forum Meeting – Tuesday 19th March 2019 

Small School Forum Meeting – Tuesday 21st May 2019

We invite you to join the relevant meeting and will send a reminder to all parents in advance. 

5. DATES FOR YOUR DIARY 

Parents’ Evenings - We would like to invite all parents to our first parents’ evenings of this academic year. These evenings are designed to give you a little time to chat to the educators about your child, away from the busy times of dropping off and collecting. 

Parents’ Evenings offer a great opportunity to find out a little bit more about how your child is settling in, their likes and dislikes at nursery and to ask any questions you may have about your child’s development. It is also a chance to meet other families with children in the same section and put names to faces. A member of the management team is always on hand to chat with you too. 

We offer a 10-minute meeting during the evening, between 7.00pm until 8.45pm. So that we can set aside undisturbed time with you we are unable to offer appointments during the daytime as our priority is to be with the children - we trust you understand. Please speak to the staff in your child’s room to reserve your meeting time. Parent’s evening dates are: 

Babies & Toddlers 1,2,3 – Monday 17th June 

Toddler 4 – Wednesday 19th June 

Pre-School 1 – Tuesday 18th June 

Pre-School 2 – Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th June 

Professional Development Day - 18th May 

Reflections offers two Professional Development Days for visiting educators from the UK and abroad, in Spring & Autumn each year. Our next day is entitled: 

‘I’m making a letter that doesn’t exist.’ Rex (Aged 6 years) 

The event will focus on language, literacy and young children’s powers of communication and takes place at the nursery on: Saturday 18th May 2019, from 9.30am until 4.00pm.

Visiting educators are charged for these events but we make a few places available to parents on a first-come-first-served basis. If you would like to join us on the day, please contact hannah@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk to reserve your place.

6. REFLECTIONS’ SELF EVALUATION 

At Reflections we are constantly reviewing our approach and how we provide the best day for the children. We are confident that the experiences children have in the morning and afternoon sessions are working well and that project work and the annual focus are being supported – along with our outdoor experiences at Forest & Beach School, these are the key elements of Reflections’ approach which are constantly under discussion and development. 

We are also conscious that each child’s day involves so much more and that there are many learning opportunities in the routine times of day such as arrival, snack, lunch, and the time before collection. It is these times we will be choosing to focus our attention on in the coming weeks to ensure that children are engaged and involved, and that staff are attentive to supporting these opportunities with the same enthusiasm as the project work. 

7. GENERAL UPDATES 

Parent Communication via Tapestry - Some communications about your child’s section or room have been sent to you via Tapestry. We hope that you see Tapestry as a sensible method to communicate up-to-date information. With this in mind we have decided to cre-ate a ‘communication child’ on Tapestry which will be added to each parent’s account. This enables us to communications and observations of your child separate. Please bear with us whilst we finish setting this up in the next few days. If you have any queries regarding this, please do not hesitate to speak to Becca in the main office or e-mail: becca@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk 

Cold weather & warm clothing – Could we please remind parents to provide their chil-dren with suitable outdoor clothing - particularly spare socks – we often find that children will need socks changing more than once during the day, so please provide at least two pairs in their bag. Please also include gloves, scarf, hats and extra clothing to be used as layers. Can we also request that all items brought to nursery are labelled with your child’s name. 

Garden Turfing It is the time of year when we re-turf to give the children a new, natural play surface. The new turf will take at least three weeks to settle so sadly the children will have limited access to the lawned areas of the garden until mid-March. 

8. FOREST SCHOOL PROGRAMME 2019/20 – Bookings now open! 

For all children over the age of 3 years, Reflections offers a Forest School programme. Children travel once a week in term-time by minibus to the forest which we lease in Dover Lane, Patching. We make an additional charge of £12 per session to join the Forest Programme and you will receive a group diary each day after every session. 

If your child will be 3 years old by December 2019 then they are eligible to join the September programme. Please note that places are limited, and we give priority to the children who will be leaving nursery for school in September 2020.

If you would like more information or would like to reserve a place, please complete contact: forestschool@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk

Best wishes from the Reflections team