At Highbury nursery we have discovered that empowering our children is the most powerful tool in developing creativity throughout our nursery.
This starts with our youngest children who join our setting.
We focus on personal, social and emotional development from our first point of contact with parents. Forging early and strong partnerships ensure a two way flow of information between nursery and home, which means critical information, is shared about the child’s achievements and interests in both the home and nursery environments. When children move to another room or on to school, we ensure smooth transitions, we allow the children choice through the nursery, so the children are familiar with all the rooms in the setting. Often when they have grown out of one room, they initiate the move themselves, which we actively encouraged.
If the children are not happy to do this, the existing keyperson visit the next room with the child and new keypersons visit the child’s previous room. At each point of transition, parents and new keypersons review the transition process, update paperwork and meet to get to know each other. This also updates information on a child’s achievements and interests and what makes them special.
While planning sheets are developed with individualised learning programmes for each child on a daily basis, staff and children are still encouraged to respond to significant events that happen throughout a day – which could be related to the weather, a discussion between children or adults or a builder working in the nursery.
Our environment is crucial to offering appropriate challenges through planned, purposeful play. We have a soft play room in the winter months and a block play, sensory room all year round, as well as a large kitchen area with child sized equipment. We have tailored all the rooms to have nappy change facilities and art sinks in every base room, or just off the base room. This means the staff have everything to hand when they are in the play spaces and the routines of the day flow with minimal interruptions.
We also make sure all areas of the early years foundation stage are covered and regularly reviewed. Our garden is ever evolving – lots of our children regularly choose to be in the garden, we regard it as the inside outside and use it as such.
Intentional differences in floor levels support children’s gross motor development as they develop awareness of differing step heights. Mark making and numerical opportunities exist in the garden.
We value free play inside and out and timetable this during the day. We also ensure planned, uninterrupted play happens so that children can develop decision making skills and explore areas that interest them.
We also believe in empowering our staff and require that 95% of our staff are qualified to at least a level 3. We have three staff with Early Years Professional Status, three staff with BA’s in early education, two staff completing their degrees and four other staff continuing their education passed level three. All staff who come to us with level 3 whether recently qualified or not, are fully inducted into our philosophy – we often find they require a good deal of support adapting to the high level of expectation we have as a management team. This can sometimes mean that our turnover is higher than average during the probationary period, but it is imperative we have the right people.
We provide a wide and varied range of experiences to children, along with the gentle nurturing that staff provide, ensuring that the balance of care and learning is right for each child.
There are so many avenues for both staff and children to be creative: problem solving, sustained shared thinking, painting, drawing, writing, junk modelling, music, imaginative play, role play, music, imaginative play, performance, investigating exploring, dancing, singing, sport and languages.
Making sure that children’s achievements, no matter how small, are accepted and celebrated, will nurture them to continue with their creative journeys.