When my son was 11 months old he spent a few hours a week at Stepping Stones in Alfreton, Derbyshire, before completing full days around the age of 18 months.
I have already discussed the decision process in which I went through to pick this particular nursery (in previous columns), but what I wanted to highlight is the great work nursery staff do in keeping your child safe and happy.
As a self-confessed neurotic mother, my son’s nursery is now fully accustomed to me calling to check on everything from eating to sleeping.
Before ever having used a nursery, I admit that I had no idea of the importance the staff would play in my son’s development. It’s easy to assume (incorrectly) that these people spend all day wiping snotty noses, dirty bums and high chairs; with a little paint and play thrown in to keep the children entertained.
Whilst I’m certain that they do all these things (as is the demands of the small people of this world), the staff also cover so much more. They offer structured (as well free) time learning, whilst monitoring performances and development against a curriculum framework, which is regulated by Ofsted, even at this young age.
Before my son turned 2, he was assigned to the pre-toddler ‘Sunshine Room’ at the nursery where he received a lot more one-to-one support. His key worker would ensure he had warm milk, a comforter and the medication which was prescribed for him. He had reflux & colic which meant he would bring up a lot of milk, sometimes covering all his clothes. His key worker was a huge support and totally understood the needs of my son; often placating our (ongoing) neuroses. My partner and I have since agreed that we couldn’t have got through those first few settling-in months without her.
I have to say, my son thoroughly enjoys nursery and has come on leaps and bounds ever since he joined. My son has now moved up to the Caterpillar Group and the staff have helped ease the transition from the Sunshine Room, to the older group of the Caterpillars, with great success.
I don’t think you can underestimate the pivotal role that structured pre-school education can play in a child’s development; due the hard work, dedication and commitment from their excellent staff.