My place of work sits in the heart of Sutton Valence Prep School and we are very much the adored youngest sibling in a very busy family. We are truly spoilt with our setting, nestled between the Music department, the large sports hall, with the Science room and School library shielding our back.
To our front is instant access to nature, woodland and adventure. Our School community recognises the crucial journey these little feet are beginning to take, and every provision is put in place to deliver a quality early years education.
The nursery rooms are large and bright and when I enter the rooms on a Monday morning, I am immediately met with sparkling surfaces and shiny floors. The first to arrive are our breakfast club children full of tales of smoothies, pancakes and delicious granola. The healthy breakfast becomes a powerful fuel to sustain them on what is always a stimulating and physically active day.
Soon after, the cloakroom doors swing open and the room becomes alive with the energy only young children have. During this settling-in time, we have familiar activities on hand and this helps to ease the morning farewells for both parents and children. ‘Look, the dinosaurs are out, you love dinosaurs.” Shortly afterwards we all gather on the carpet for our morning greeting.
The children tell their news and, to the untrained eye, it might just seem like a jolly time. However, we use this time to listen carefully to how they are using language, sometimes modelling a sentence back to them, stretching their vocabulary and creating that relationship that gives them the confidence to take that next step.
Every day, we have a range of experiences and activities, from letter recognition to being creative. Our curriculum is delivered in one-to-one interactions and groups. Today, we have French and are delighted to see Madame Buttle entering the room to begin her lesson. Thankfully, our curriculum has a delightful elasticity to it, so today Madame Buttle has decided we will be doing our lesson outside. When French is over, a big tidy up ensues before we have our first break.
The children learn from early on to be responsible and that great den they built in the corner of the room will need to be put away at some point, by them. However, I am not immune to those desperate pleas of “can it stay up until tomorrow?” Our children are encouraged to have a voice and if they can win me round with negotiations, then I think they have mastered a useful tool.
After a good run around on the Head’s lawn, we return to the classroom for tuck and some counting. The children are encouraged to love numbers and Maths is always a fun time. Soon Hayley is knocking on our door and beckoning us to join her for Yoga.
Lunch is always a delicious affair and we sit in small groups with the children, chatting to them, guiding them with their table manners and instilling that feeling that mealtimes are special.
Monday lunch usually has an Italian feel and the favourite dish of meatballs and spaghetti is well received. We get ready to say ‘goodbye’ to some of our children and to greet those who are coming in for the afternoon. Monday afternoon is Physical Education with Mr Davey, who delivers his lessons with energy that excites and exhausts us in equal measures.
We return to our rooms ready for a big drink of water and a sit-down. Before long, we are on the move again and heading to the Secret Garden where our mud kitchen and magic woods are. Here we nestle in and read stories in the shade of the trees. At 3.30pm, the nursery school day finishes, but the nursery remains open and the children are cared for by our very qualified team.
I disappear into the Prep School for meetings, to run clubs and catch up with paperwork. From about five o clock onwards I am receiving texts from my twins at the Senior School asking questions such as, ‘Did you sign the form for my theatre trip to London?’, ‘Is my rugby kit clean?’, ‘I did tell you about my performance, I need to be back at school for seven, I think I have lost my gum shield’.
I pack up around 5.30pm and, out of the corner of my eye, I notice the den has got bigger… the pickles!!