Parents Newsletter - June / July 2018

Dear Parents & Carers 

A very warm welcome to our Summer Newsletter. The hot weather has brought out the Stag beetles in the nursery garden and the children have been delighting in observing and interacting with them. For more information about Stag beetles please see here: https://ptes.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Stag-beetle-fact-file.pdf 

In this edition you can read about experiences in each room; parents evenings and other events (please note that this year our Summer Party has been switched to an Autumn Fire Party – see below. You will also find updates about the staff team including some information about how we retain staff which we felt would be useful to share. 

May we take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to parents who continue to recommend the nursery to friends and colleagues – we rely on your support.

1. Children’s work across the Nursery 

Baby & Toddler Section 

We have moved on from our focus on sound in Baby Room 1 providing the babies with cardboard boxes and foil blankets. We have noticed how they engage in games of peek-a-boo, concealing and revealing themselves. Over the coming weeks we will be researching the social interactions between the babies and closely observing moments of togetherness between them, providing them with different spaces to engage with one another. 

The babies have also been enjoying our new baby garden, filling and empty-ing with sand and water alongside different containers, as well as working alongside the nursery gardener, Chloe to explore the herbs and vegetables from our edible garden. 

In Toddler 1 children continue their explorations of cornflour on black back-grounds. The children have been producing circles using fingers and paint-brushes and repeated these patterns in the sand areas, both indoors and outdoors. 

In Toddler 2 the children continue to deepen their explorations of tomatoes in their cooking. They have been busy making a variety of breads, chutneys, ketchups and soups. We have been planting tomato seeds and observing them grow on our balcony. 

Toddler 3 have given the larger space over to the children’s investigations of bubble wrap and we have introduced other textures and light to explore alongside. In the smaller space, the children have been exploring the construction resources delighting in working with larger resources on top of the wooden plinth and smaller ones on top of the lightbox. 

Toddler 4 Section 

In the Main Room the children have taken a big interest in baking bread. They have combined the dough with a variety of textures and tastes such as chilli and sundried tomatoes. Sampling the bread has been a tasty treat in the afternoons as part of their snack. 

The children have been experimenting with scooping and pouring pasta. They have transported it and collected it in tubs, exploring the cause and effect of their developing motor skills. This area is now becoming a space for mark-making on perspex, allowing scope for big movement and smaller detailed drawings.

In the ‘animal area’ children role play and stretch their imaginations creating a range of habi-tats using the available resources. Run-Run the Tortoise is getting bigger and he has become a significant attraction in the construction area and children have been building obstacle courses for him to tackle – slowly. 

In the Side Garden the children remain engaged with physical challenges, traversing the wooden walkways they have constructed. Their balance and co-ordination is supported by their friends reaching out a hand to help steady each other. Their interest in water has led to investigations of flow using a variety of pipes and containers. 

Children have also been exploring movement and transportation, constructing large- and small-scale boats, cars and trains. They position blocks and wheels with great consideration and make engine noises drawing on their experiences, such as tractor rides and boat trips, to give depth to their role-play and encouraging other children to join in. 

In the Toddler 4 Atelier the children have contin-ued their interest in ‘Lion’. The cardboard Lion has become their friend, their second voice and a story provocateur. Lucie has created a story using images and text from the children entitled, ‘Lion and the Castle of Laughter’ and is read on a daily basis. Seeing themselves as having important roles within the story has developed their confidence to share new ideas from their imaginations with their friends. To support their interests, we shared a beautifully illustrated book called, ‘Lion in the Meadow’ which captivated their imaginations and they began to role-play the story together. New characters have emerged in the Atelier too: Pig-Bear, Mummy Crocodile, and we are awaiting the hatching of a Tiny Dragon from a big clay egg. 

Pre-School 1 Section 

In the Mirror Room the children have been exploring kinetic art, or art that depends on motion for its effect. This style of work allows children to track their movement and experiment with different ways of using their bodies inspired by the work of artist, Heather Hansen: http://www.heatherhansen.net/ We have covered the floor of the mirror room with white paper and given children graphite pencils to track their movements to music whilst projecting videos of themselves and the artist.

In the Construction Room children are still working with two separate worlds of people and dinosaurs and a ‘third’ world has now appeared which is able to accommodate people and dinosaurs together! Ladders give access to this ‘higher up’ world but the old pathways and rules still connect the original world of people and the world of dinosaurs. The ‘Big Shark’ and ‘Little People’ stories continue with children focusing on making bridges for them to cross safely. There are lots of discussions around relationships - caring ones and unkind ones and what the children can do to help and children are protecting smaller creatures such as the shark babies, creating safe spaces for them. 

In the Pre-school 1 Atelier we are focusing on the big and the small. In the big section children have created a 3D sculpture to express the large scale. When speaking about what they thought were big things, a conversation started about mountains, how big they were and that they would like to build one. The children are creating a mountain range in the room which is currently spreading round one side, the scale of the mountains is very immersive for them and they love being in it as well as building it. 

The small side of the room is focused mainly on tiny drawings; refining their fine motor skills as they make tiny characters to climb their mountains. There are clay sculpture and drawing stations set up to support this area of the children’s focus. 

Pre-School 2 Section 

In the Research Room the children have continued to explore the morality behind traditional stories with a significant focus on Goldi-locks and the three bears. Could Goldilocks have made things better, writing ‘sorry letters’ for eating the bears’ porridge? The chil-dren are discussing why Goldilocks went into a stranger’s house in the first place and whether that was a good decision? What if the porridge had not been so tempting, would Goldilocks have just walked past the bears’ house? Their discussions continue. 

‘The aim of the game is trickiness, really trickiness’. Amelie 

In the Little Room, after a long investigation of invented games which need to be ‘tricky’, they have created a large-scale board game for a host of small characters. The children have delighted in making these teeny tiny characters and creating and agreeing on rules and responsibilities to play this highly specific and complex game.

Children in the Construction Room have been exploring old buildings using a variety of blocks and clay. They have been taking their inspiration from English heritage books and working collaboratively. 

Using the OHP children cast light on their crea-tions and create shadows which they have been investigating on the walls, tracing the outlines onto large sheets of paper to work between two and three dimensions. 

Forest school - The children have been searching the forest and researching their findings on their return to the nursery through books and the use of the internet, sharing their discoveries and categorising and classifying their items and becoming more familiar with their surroundings. 

Beach school - Children have been creating lots of drawings in the beach school room having spent time with the fisherman observing their fish. 

There has been much discussion about the project in Worthing called, The Last Fisherman Standing, and we have shared documentaries and images to allow children to engage with this project and how the fishing industry had changed over the years. We worked together to create a composition of the drawings and then had some printed on the side of the fisherman's hut.

Small School 

Children in the small School have been deeply engaged with optical illusions working with a number of different tools, including magnets and mirrors. 

For three days, from 22nd to 24th May, the Small School was inspected by 

OFSTED (this is a separate inspection to the nursery). The school has only been operational since September 2017 and the inspector commented that we had covered a lot of ground in such a short space of time. Her comments included: 

“A shared vision for the school’s future have ensured a successful and promising start for this happy, hard-working school.” 

“Effective teaching ensure that children make rapid progress during early years so that they are well prepared for the next stage of learning.” 

“Pupils make strong progress in English, mathematics, science and a wide range of subjects.” 

“Teachers make good use of pupils’ interests, ideas and questions to shape the direction of learning.” 

2. Children leaving for school in September 2018 

We are holding our final Parents Evenings for our School Leavers on Tuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th June 2018. This will be the last opportunity to discuss your child’s de-velopment and contribute to the report that is sent to your child’s school. Please book an ap-pointment with your child’s Keyperson in Tudor Court Office. We look forward seeing you for conversation and refreshments before the next stage in your child’s educational journey. 

May we request that if you haven’t already let us know when your child will be leaving Reflections, please could you e-mail: yvonne@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk Many thanks in advance. 

3. Preschool 2 Graduation Day – 18th July 

For the children leaving for school our ‘Graduation’ Day will be on Wednesday 18th July at 3.00pm. You will receive a formal invitation from your child shortly. This is a small gathering to celebrate time spent at Reflections. 

4. Worthing Artist Open Houses 2018 

We are delighted to be linking this summer with the Artists Open Houses event on the week-ends of 23rd & 24th June and 30th June & 1st July here at Reflections. We will be opening Tudor Court and our new Caravan Bird Museum to the public. All families are welcome. 

5. Sun protection 

Fingers crossed that the warm weather of the past few weeks is here to stay! In order to protect your child from the sun we provide sun cream at Reflections but it is also really helpful if you can apply a layer of sun cream prior to them getting to nursery - we can then reapply throughout the day. Please send your child to nursery in a named sunhat too - we have a few spare hats just in case. 

Please can you help us out by providing suitable footwear - please note that crocks or flip flops are not suitable for climbing and running. We welcome changes of clothing should they chose to play in the water areas and if your child is very sensitive to the sun then please provide a long-sleeved shirt. Please ensure all clothing is labelled with your child’s name as many parents choose to shop in the same clothing stores. Could we also suggest that a brimmed hat is a better option than sunglasses and is less likely to get lost in the depths of the garden.

6. Working with parents 

We have been recently discussing how to engage parents more in the nursery in whatever capacity that may be. Some parents choose to participate in the Par-ent Forum regularly – if you would like to attend please e-mail: martin@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk. Some families regularly comment on our Facebook page or on Twitter; some families contribute through their child’s journal uploading photographs and comments. Others have occasionally volun-teered their time. Please feel free to contact Martin if you would like to get in-volved in way. Our next Parent Forum meeting date will be in the Autumn term and as always, you are all welcome. 

7. Invitation to Small School Presentation Evening – 18th July 

You are invited to attend a presentation and discussion about our Small School organisation and our educational approach on Wednesday 18th July in Tudor Court at 6.30pm. 

The evening will include a presentation from our team about this year’s work; logistics and staffing for 2018/19, and a question & answer session for all parents. We hope to see you there – refreshments will be served. RSVP please to: Hannah@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk 

8. Invitation to Reflections Autumn Fire Party - Sunday 28th October 

Owing to difficulties with summer dates, we are unable to host a Summer Party this year. We would therefore like to invite all families to the nursery for a gathering of fun & food for a Fire Party on Sunday 28th October 2018 from 3.30pm until 6.00pm. We will have fire acro-batics (no fireworks), live music, a BBQ and drinks. Admission is free of charge but we request a donation on the door for our chosen charities. 

9. Further dates for your diary 

Forest School Parents Presentation Evening – 29th August 2018 

Thank you to everyone who has submitted their expression of interest for their child to join the Forest School Programme 2018/19. We take five groups to the forest each week and we are currently organising the groups taking into account where possible the sessions that chil-dren already attend and ensuring that each group is compatible. 

We would like to invite you to join us on the evening of Wednesday 29th August at 6.30pm in Tudor Court when we will offer a short presentation and an opportunity to meet our team and ask questions about Forest School. At the end of this evening, we will be issuing the final paperwork in order to secure a place. Please note that as forest sessions are oversubscribed, we will be giving priority to the children who are in their final year at Reflections; we will however ensure that any children who miss out this year will automatically secure a place on next year’s programme 

Professional Development Day – 3rd November 2018 

Interest in Reflections’ approach continues to develop and in the last year we have had many requests to visit from UK-based educators and teachers. In addition, in the last 12 months we have received 12 delegations of educational visitors from Iceland and visitors from China, Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece and Turkey. As well as regularly speaking at conferences around the UK, we have been invited to speak at various events including two in Prague, one in Sarajevo, two in Luxembourg and one in South Korea. 

To deal with much of this demand, each year Reflections holds two Professional Development Days when visiting educators and teachers come to meet our educators and hear about our educational approach with young children. Each event is capped at 125 delegates and we were delighted to welcome a full house on Saturday June 16th to hear about playfulness and the inventive powers of children - feedback from their visit was overwhelmingly positive. Two Reflections parents were able to attend the presentations led by our team and enjoyed the day as well. The next date will be Saturday 3rd November 2018 and parents are welcome to attend. Please inform Hannah@reflectionsnurseries.co.uk if you are able to come.

10. Staffing Update 

As you know, after 10 years at Reflections, Yvonne our Nursery Manager will be leaving Reflections for pastures new. She has commented below: 

“I’ve had a great 10 years at Reflections and have loved being part of the team. I am looking forward to taking all that I have learned to my next role; sharing the ‘Reflections way’ beyond Worthing. I hope to continue to work with Reflections’ team going forward through training and development and fully support Reflections continuing to lead the way in educating young children”. 

We will not be immediately recruiting a new Manager. From 1st September, Becca will take on the role of Acting Manager covering all aspects of the management role. Other members of the management team will support Becca in the usual way. We will however, be recruiting a Deputy Manager and we will be advertising internally and externally to fill this role. 

I am sure we all wish Yvonne well in her new venture and she will of course be missed. We would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Yvonne for her 10-year contribution to Reflections’ journey and her dedication, determination and hard work. 

We welcome some new recruits to our team - Flavia and Shume join us as Qualified support staff to allow our team to take some well-earned annual leave over the summer months. We also say a warm welcome to Ella who joins us as a Trainee in the forthcoming weeks. I am sure that they will introduce themselves to you in due course. 

We are delighted to inform you that Harrie Togneri has become a mummy to Logan James, a little earlier than expected. Logan made his arrival 10 weeks early and is currently being cared for in Worthing Hospital. Harrie is doing well and is looking forward to having Logan join her and her husband at home in the forthcoming weeks. 

A parent recently commented that staff turnover seemed to be quite high. We felt that this was not the case so did some quick research to investigate. Staff turnover in childcare & education is notoriously high but at Reflections it seems we enjoy great staff retention and we thought some figures on this might be helpful: 

- The average length of service for a member of staff at Reflections is 3.7 years 

- Of the 7 members of the Senior Team the average length of service is 11 years (Reflections has been in operation 12 years this October). 

10. Advance notice of summer holidays 

Now that we are nearing the school holidays and the warmer weather, you may feel inclined to take some time away with your family. If you find that you will not be requiring childcare during these next few months, please let the team in the office know as this helps us plan the team’s holiday dates. Many thanks in advance. 

Very best wishes from the Reflections team