Parents Newsletter January - February 2015

May we offer a warm welcome to the new families who have joined us this year and a big thank you to parents who recommended us to friends and colleagues.

 

1. REFLECTIONS’ LANGUAGE-OF-EXPRESSION FOCUS FOR 2014/15 - ‘STORYING’

Babies: We have been recording and re-visiting observations of babies’ hands, asking what stories they may be telling. We are observing what gestures they make; how they use their hands to explore and make sense of the world; and how they signal with their hands when they have something important to say to someone else. With this focus we are looking for the early stages of the language of gestures, and what we can tell about babies as ‘authors’ from the way they use their hands.

Toddlers: In this section we have been focussing on interactions between children. Do children build stories together, do they swap stories, and how might they do this? We are collecting observations of children imitating each other’s play and explorations – through actions, sounds, and movements of the hands/body. We know that children in this age group are very interested in adults, and in copying what adults do, so we are also looking at the way children imitate (and so ‘re-tell’) what they have experienced in the adult world.

Pre-school 1: Constant themes, since September, are the antithetical ideas of big and small; scary and protected; monsters and babies; human and not-human; and ordinary and extra-ordinary. Some questions have been asked to the children:

“Can a monster be a baby before being big?”

“Is a monster only bad?”

“Does a monster have a mum and dad?”

“What if a baby was bigger than the monster?”

Two principal themes have emerged - the Fire Monster in the side garden, and the idea of babies and monsters in the Atelier (beginning with Etta’s stories of The Monster Place and The Baby Place). We are currently working on publishing a book by a small group of Pre-school 1 children entitled, Fire Monster!

Pre-school 2

Island stories: The ‘Small Island’ was part of the City sculptures from 2014 and this year we have offered the children Finlay’s original story of The Island and the Babies as a provocation for new narratives. Many children have told new stories and these have been collected in a book and offered back to the children to illustrate, enact, and to inspire exploration through movement and dance.

Many of the island stories are about danger and safety, getting eaten and escaping – the sea, the sand, sea monsters, sharks, wolves and pigs, dangerous places, safe homes, and some slapstick humour.

Ink stories: The children’s investigations of ink and its behaviour in water have also generated ‘storying’ language and characters. The ways the ink has been described are vivid and varied, and the question of where the ink goes when it disappears has also generated magical explanations as well as close ‘scientific’ observation and description.

Some children have intuitively imitated the ink in dance and these dances have flowed into the shadow story process – moving behind the screen, in a deliberate way, to communicate a story or character to those watching from the front. It’s amazing how the ink itself has become established as a character, an object, a prefix, a land, and an adjective in the children’s stories.

Shadow stories: The children watched the ink move on screen via webcam link during their experiments and they began imitating it – doing ink dances in front of the screen, with their shadows projected onto it. Teresa has supported the development of these shadow movement stories – with children now working behind the screen to act out their stories and others acting as audience. There have been stories of monsters and giants, but also slow, mysterious stories, with a high degree of deliberate performance. Teresa will post some films of these on our Facebook page shortly.

Pre-school 2 in the Coach House

After Meg’s mum visited with the blood bags, some of the children have been totally absorbed in making ‘blood books’ – first on folded paper, made dot by dot, over hours. Then on pieces of wood which now are carried as props in emergency role-play scenarios.

Josie told a story about her blood book when she was working in the Communication Room:

‘Once upon a time there was a princess in a castle. The dragon took the girl’s blood book and it disappeared. There was a dog. He sniffed and found her blood book, and she was really happy. The end.’ Josie 9.12.14

2. CHRISTMAS EVENTS 2014 – AN APOLOGY

We would like to apologise for the Christmas events for Pre-school 1 & 2 last year. Whilst we received a large number of thanks and compliments, we also had a couple of concerns raised. As you may be aware, we were let down by the church at the last minute and made the decision to go ahead in the nursery. It was not organised to our usual standard and for this we apologise and seek to reassure you that it is not reflective of our true organisational skills – we were a little over-ambitious in trying to make sure that families were not let down.

3. INTEGRATION OF TUDOR COURT

We are in the final stages of pricing the work with the proposed contractors and our remodelling programme at Tudor Court should now commence on the first week in March. This should give us a completion date of the end of July 2015.

Once complete, our intention is that all children who will leave the nursery for school in September 2016 will use the newly-renovated spaces in Tudor Court. We will take some time this summer to introduce the parents and children to the new building and explain in detail how each space will work.

Our plans will have a minimal impact on the majority of the spaces in Westerfields House but we will also conduct a presentation for all parents to explain how spaces in Westerfields will be used in future.

4. WESTERFIELDS HOUSE CAR PARK

You may have noticed that parking has improved since the removal of the temporary kitchen, skip and workmen’s vans, along with the minibus and manager’s car. When work commences in earnest at Tudor Court, the car park at Westerfields may get a little busier for a couple of months – so please accept our apologies in advance.

As part of the refurbishment works at Tudor Court, Westerfields driveway will also see some improvements – we will be adding a cobbled walkway with lighting to the west edge of the drive to form a safe pathway for parents bringing their children into nursery.

5. KITCHEN & BATHROOM UPDATE & FURTHER WORK AT WESTERFIELDS HOUSE

We are delighted to announce that all works have been completed to the kitchen and lower ground floor bathroom. There remain only two further elements of work at Westerfields House, which will form part of the Tudor Court remodelling works this summer. Firstly, we intend to refurbish the children’s toilets on the ground floor. And secondly, we intend to create an entrance to the back garden, adjacent to the kitchen window, so that children can have direct access to the outdoors without going through the ground floor Atelier. We will keep you advised of the timing of these minor works.

6. NURSERY UPDATE

Pre-school 2 Developments: We are making improvements to the beginnings and ends of the day and we have slightly realigned the staff shifts to ensure that these periods are better covered giving a smoother operation in the mornings and more organised handovers at the end of the day.

So that you are aware, at breakfast time a member of staff is there to greet you and if breakfast is busy they add your child’s name to the board and call them as soon as a place is available.

Between 4.20pm and 6.00pm there will be a member of staff to meet you as you come to collect your child. Your child will be in one of the rooms in the section and his/her name will be on the noticeboard indicating which room he/she is in. A member of staff will be available in that room to give you feedback about your child’s day. The only room not available to the children at this time will be the Atelier.

I am delighted to announce that the pegs have now been re-instated near the toilets (where the refurbishments had been in progress) alleviating the problems of peg-overcrowding in the hallway. Hopefully this will reduce the chances of clothing being mixed up in future.

Staff moves: We welcome Kathrin Fischer as a second Atelierista in Pre-school 2, Kathrin has a BA in drawing, an NVQ II in childcare and is currently studying towards MA Inclusive Arts Practice. We welcome too, Cormac Verner – who joins as Pre-school 2 Section lead with a BA Hons; Heidi Barber who joins our Pre-school 2 team with a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies; Lucy Owen who is working with the Monday group as a Forest School volunteer; and Kaye Osborne who joins us a kitchen apprentice, training towards level 2 in professional cookery.

Chloe Dance has moved from Pre-school 2 and is spending time in other sections of the nursery as part of her ongoing professional development.

Front Door: Can we please remind parents not to let anyone in the nursery who you don’t recognise. Thank you for your co-operation.

Cold Weather Clothing – Please could we remind parents to provide appropriate outdoor clothing now the cold weather is upon us. (As you may remember, we currently provide wellington boots for all Pre-school 2 section children).

7. OUR LATEST FILM - MOVEMENT & STILLNESS IN THE FOREST

If you haven’t already seen our latest film by Deb Wilenski and Jessica Wild, please click here

8. FOREST SCHOOL PROGRAMME 2015/16

Reflections has offered forest school experiences to children 3+ years old (and sometimes a little younger) for the last six years. Sessions take place each morning in local woodland, which we rent from a Worthing landowner, and 12 children travel with 3 staff by minibus. We go to the forest sessions in all weathers, (except high winds) and leave nursery at 9.30am, taking a snack and lunch for the children, returning at 12.45pm.

We offer a 42-week programme running from September to July, with a two-week break at Christmas & Easter, and we expect that you would commit to the full 42 weeks so that we can create stable learning groups for each session. At the end of the session you receive a short diary about the group’s experiences.

We charge an additional £12 per session for Forest School (on top of the usual sessional fee) to cover costs of extra staffing, staff training and the running of the minibus. We provide waterproof outer garments as required, but we expect you to provide clothing to keep your child warm in the winter months. Martin will be presenting: “What happens at Forest School” on the evening of Monday 20th July at 7.00pm. Please complete the form below and return to the Front Office, if you would like to attend.

If your child will be 3 years old by 31st December 2015 and you are already certain you want your child to attend Forest School sessions, please complete the form below and tick the box. Or email martin@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk Please note that there will be a £12 additional charge for each Forest School Session. Many thanks in advance.

To find out more, you can purchase Martin’s book ‘I Love Forest School’ based on our forest experiences click here