Category Archives: Old School House Day Nursery

Nursery Highlights 2013

As winter is now well and truly upon us and we begin the countdown to Christmas it also is a time to reflect on what has been a very busy year for The Old School House. There have been many highlights but two that have had a major impact on nursery was becoming the first nursery in the country to achieve the coveted Childrens Food Trust Excellence award back in April and Learning at Work Week (LAW) in the summer.DSC07961

2nd April 2013: Nursery wins our first Children’s Food Trust award
“Achieving this national recognition has been so valuable for us. It’s reassurance for parents that their child is eating well when they’re with us and that we’re committed to helping their child get off to a great start with food, supporting their growth and development.” Linda Baston-Pitt from the Old School House Nursery. Read more here http://www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk/news-and-events/news/cftawardfirst

Another key element for us at nursery is that the focus should not only be on the environment, the food and meals served, but also on role modelling by staff and the policies affecting child wellbeing. As research repeatedly tells us, children’s wellbeing and future development are largely dependent on the high wellbeing of staff! (and parents)

Since achieving the CFT award I have searched high and low for someone to present the award. Unfortunately Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc were all too busy but I’m pleased to say that Sophie Atkins-Ward, a Master Chef Finalist who is chef  de partie at Wimpole Hall (and has her own young children), has kindly agreed to not only to present our award, but to also do a cooking session with the children at nursery. She will be visiting Nursery on the morning of Friday 22nd November. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=675514302461874&set=pb.476007749079198.-2207520000.1384946694.&type=3&theater


What did you learn yesterday at work?

A good question and one that set the scene for all of the team when they took part in ‘Learning at Work Week’ organised by the Campaign for Learning.
The nursery team planned a whole ‘learning at work week’ with the theme of ‘the many ways to learn’ running throughout. Everyone enjoyed a variety of fun, innovative activities that were delivered by external experts and team members themselves that covered a whole range of formal and informal learning opportunities. The week began with ‘Motivational Monday’ with activities that focused on taking a positive approach to life including setting goals for the future and finding your true purpose to ‘Flourishing Friday’ when staff were able to discover their own signature strengths,  learn how to make quick and easy brain boosting smoothies and have a go at making their own jewellery.
We believe strongly that to build a strong learning culture it’s important to develop the person from the inside out, not just their skills and knowledge. Learning and development shouldn’t be restricted purely to persons job role, we’ve  found that by giving individuals choice in what, how and when to learn and develop they naturally become more positive and engaged as a result – doing what they love and enjoy and are most capable of, rather than what we try to make them be! “

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Useful links / information

  • Infant and Toddler Forum – Feeding young children: practical advice from the experts

https://www.infantandtoddlerforum.org/

  • Campaign for Learning

http://www.campaign-for-learning.org.uk/cfl/index.asp

  •  National Day Nurseries Association  –  advice, information and support for parents

http://www.ndna.org.uk/parents

Linda

 

The Old School House Day Nursery Dances and Moves

As our movement and dance project reaches its end Filipa Pereira-Stubbs our resident Dance Teacher for the last 8 months shares the positive impact that the creative and expressive dance sessions have had on the children and staff team.  And although this is the end of the initial project it certainly won’t be the end of our collaboration with Filipa! We hope you enjoy the photographs and reading about the wonderful experiences that the children have had. Please also see the display in the reception area which highlights some of her work here.

Filipa: “When I first walked into theDSC05884 Old School House Nursery, I could immediately feel the sense of purposeful calm that comes in an environment where children are happily and busily engaged.  Beginning the movement sessions was not going to be difficult; I was excited to meet the children, and begin to get a sense of them, and what kind of movers and dancers they were.

With the very little children, the babies, plenty of slow time was spent introducing myself, allowing them to get to know this new big body, this new face with shiny glasses, pulling all kinds of faces at them.  They needed time to get to know my hands, and to take in my invitations to move with their little hands, their little feet. DSC05471

A lot of this work is about drawing attention to the body, their bodies – through touch and through imitation and simple movement sequences, such as stroking a hand, holding it, holding the other hand, and slowly, with eye contact to ensure the movement is interesting and fun, opening up the arms to a wide lift, closing in again, and repeating.

In all we do we are looking for reciprocating pressure, for an accompanying lift of the body, for toes widening or curling in response.   A baby’s body responds without inhibition, openly, and fully.DSC05444  Widening eyes, furrowing forehead, corners of smiles – these are all part of the dance.  As I felt my presence was accepted, with each individual baby taking her/his own time with this, and with the teachers working alongside me, lending familiarity and safety, we begin more exciting movement sequences – rocking back, body on lap, lifting high into the air, safely couched by knees and legs and exciting moments of standing upright, alone, mastering the art of balance.DSC03458

For each session, the staff would light the fairy lights, gentle dance music would be put on, and as much as possible all the staff would gather in a rough circle space.   The babies came in and out of the circle area, in their own time, and staying for varying lengths of time.  Each baby was taken in turn by one of us, and given ample time to find her/ his way into moving with us.

Downstairs, we began with giving the children ample time to meet this new person, hear her music, and understand her invitations to dance.  At first the work was done individually, finding a moment of playfulness to engage, and to understand the dynamics of response.  Little movement sequences are quickly established with one or two children, and the quality of their fascination and engagement draws the other children closer and into the movement.DSC08920

Over the weeks, we gently established a routine of sitting down in a circle to begin together, and to try out movements all together.  There is a lot of one-to-one work, and a lot of repetition.

 

 

New ideas are brought in to match interest and to incorporate the ideas the children bring in – lifting a red ball high into the air, and bringing it down, down down.  We find red balls for everyone.  We stretch up high and we curl down into little balls.  Already the children at this age have a sense of the beginning of a phrase and the end.  They ask to do it again and again.   As their interest DSC08532wanders, they leave the space where we come together to dance, and then return later.  Some children stay for the duration of the time I am in the room.  Their world is very rich and full, and there is much to catch their attention, but there is a growing sense that there is a time and area to focus on doing movement activities.

 

In the Nursery room, we began our dancing together by finding out how the sessions work.  I introduce sitting in a circle, and the importance of going round the circle saying our names, stating that we are here and a part of the circle, a part of the dance.  For some of the children it takes time to find their voice to say their names.  I introduce a little warm up – simple sequences that allows practice and ease of movement in space, in time, and with different body parts.     DSC09770 Co-ordination and remembering are important now as is the ability to listen to the dynamics of the music and move accordingly.  Sophisticated little sequences are begun, and gently repeated enough times that the children can happily engage with the movement individually.

We try out different ideas – dancing in twos, dancing as a group, dancing alone.

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Sometimes when the music comes on, our instinct is to jump up and run about, and we embrace that excitement whilst learning to take turns, so that we all have enough space to dance, learning to watch one another’s movements, and try them out, so we learn new moves.   We see what the idea of blowing ourselves up like a balloon does to our bodies.  We make bridges with our bodies, and see how we can move under, around and through the patterns and shapes. DSC09380 We curl up small and tight, like tiny creatures and we lie like starfish, enjoying the full length and breadth of our bodies.

 

We always end back together in the circle, taking some moments to relax our bodies, and rest before we get on with our day.Over the weeks, confidence has grown, everyone’s name is said clearly and in time.  We are able to follow warm-ups together and discover our own dances. We all feel more confident;

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Nicola and Alice lead a session, so I can film the children exploring how their bodies can grow bigger and stronger, and then become softer and smaller.  The range of movement dynamics and actions is increasing.

 

 

With the older children, in the school room, learning the structure of the circle, saying our names and warming up was easy and immediate.  Fun is had saying our names, and finding accompanying movements to our names.  We are more readily confident and able to claim our place in the group.  Here too with this group of older and bigger bodies, it is really important to learn to take turns, and we find a space in our room for an ‘audience’ group, learning to appreciate taking it in turn watching each other. DSC03929 Our warm-ups get us to try out new ways of moving, and establish sequences of moving.  We warm up our hands, our toes, stretch our legs, lift hands high and swoop them out so wide, leaning across space to tickle a friend along the circle, practicing balancing as we do so.

 

 

We explore different action words – how do we reach high ? Sideways? How do we float, spin and turn?  What happens when we do these in sequence?  What does it look and feel like?  And what do we become when we dance this way?

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Sophisticated thinking and expression emerges effortlessly as we move through different ideas, and themes.  We work with rhythm and dynamics – repeating a movement once, twice, three times! Gently, then slowly, then with strength!Again we do this in duets, as a group, and alone.

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One week we dance outdoors one very lovely sunny day, with our sun hats on.  We find our dancing shadows, and experiment with what happens when we approach our shadows, or dance along each other’s shadows.

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We create a long line of bodies, and delight in the patterns of arms and heads we see before us.  We dance our version of follow the leader.

Another time we consider the idea of moving like a reflection in a mirror – what happens when we move the same, what happens when we move similarly.

At the end of each session there is always time for free moving – dancing to the music any way we like, expressing ourselves through the dance.  And after that we take moments to relax, to cool down, to briefly allow gentle quiet lying down time before lunch.”

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OFSTED OUTSTANDING!

Double Success Story!

Being recognised as an outstanding provider was an incredible achievement in itself but to retain it is even more rewarding. The feedback from the inspection at the end of April 2013 highlighted all of the areas that we have worked so hard to maintain and develop further over the past few years. Recognition at this level is testament to the continued passion and commitment of the whole team.

Key highlights include:

* The rich, varied and stimulating environment, both indoors and out, means children become highly motivated and DSC09451 enthusiastic learners and make excellent progress in their learning and development.

*Healthy living is given a high priority and is at the heart of many of the children’s activities. As a result, they are enormously active and their knowledge of healthy foods and lifestyles is exemplary. DSC08429

*The leadership and management of the nursery is outstanding. The providers and managers have a passionate desire to maintain the superb quality of the provision. Staff morale is high and monitoring of the provision and children’s learning is extremely effective. staff do may 2013 2

 

 

 

 

 

*The outstanding partnerships with parents helps to ensure that all children’s needs are effectively identified and exceptionally well met.

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*Children have wonderful opportunities to develop their understanding of the world as they explore the outdoor environments and thoroughly enjoy examining insects, birds and other living things.

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Read our full Outstanding Ofsted report here.

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/CARE/221571

The Old School House is the first organisation in the country to recieve the new Childrens Food Trust Award!

CFT_AWARD_LOGO_COLOUR_FINAL_TestDear Parents,

Last June we were involved in piloting the Childs Food Trusts National Guidelines for food and Drink provision in early years settings. Lisa, Gemma along with Eileen and Emma  our nursery cooks worked incredibly hard with the whole staff team reviewing and analysing menus with the trusts dietician and evaluating practice throughout nursery against the national standards developed by the trust.

 

The team surpassed themselves and their hard work paid off when we were put forward for the Childrens Food Award in March by Dr Patricia Mucavele Research and Nutrition Senior Manager for the trust who had been working with us.

We are delighted to let you know that The Old School House Day Nursery has now achieved the Children’s Food Trust Award which means that our nursery is now recognised nationally as a centre of excellence for its provision of food. To gain the Award we had to demonstrate that we not only provide food which meets high nutritional standards but that children are also actively food picsengaged in choosing and eating healthy food. We achieved the award with flying colours, a testament to the dedication of the staff team. More details about the award can be found by going to the link below.

The Award has recently been introduced by the Children’s Food Trust (formerly the School Food Trust) and we are delighted to be the first organisation in the whole country to receive it. The Children’s Food Trust has introduced food and drink guidelines for children in their early years. The guidelines are based on research in child development and nutrition from early years to adulthood. For more information visit www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk

As a parent I’m sure you are concerned that your child reaches their full potential in life. Learning to make healthy eating choices a habit is an important part of this… Research by The Children’s Food Trust shows how good nutrition can improve children’s physical development and mental performance. Furthermore, when children adopt a healthy diet, it reduces the chances of health problems in later years, such as diabetes and wow 2011 8heart disease caused by obesity.

We are therefore keen that as many children as possible take advantage of our wholesome meal provision. We would also like to draw your attention to our packed lunch policy. To find out more about our nursery food policy or to see an example of  our menus  please visit the nutrition section on our website www.oshdn.co.uk

If you would like to discuss our catering provision further please feel free to speak to us.

More details about the award can be found by going to the link below.

http://www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk/news-and-events/news/cftawardfirst

In recognition of our success and the hard work of all the staff we are taking the team out for a celebration meal in Newmarket on the 24th May. We will also be planning a whole nursery event when we hope you will join us, more details to follow.

Childrens Food Trust, Event London

Linda

 

Welcome to our beautiful new `Baby Room Nest`

We are all really excited to share news about the ongoing development and expansion of our baby room facilities. Due to a growing demand for young baby places we have now made a successful transition to the new ‘baby room nest.` As the babies were already using the studio room at intervals during the day it made good sense as numbers increased to move into it completely. It is beautiful, light and airy room with huge floor to ceiling windows at either end, and already has a kitchen area complete with oven.

The new room caters for 12 babies and will continue to be managed by Jayne Armstrong supported by the baby room team that includes Jade Smith, Stacey Turpin and Ellis Firman.

The team have enjoyed turning the room into the new `baby room nest` and have successfully created a warm and cosy environment to meet the needs of our youngest children, enabling them to explore their new environment safely whilst using all of their senses.

Our goal is to ensure that all that we do, plan and implement is based on sound evidence and research. The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum states that “Children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process however, it depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments.” This is further supported by Psychology Professor Alison Gopnik who summarised it beautifully when she wrote, ‘Babies do not need to be taught how to think. They are born with mental abilities that fully function to allow them to make sense of experiences and anticipate future events’

Enabling environments offer stimulating resources, rich learning opportunities and support for children to take risks and explore. For more information visit www.foundationyears.org.uk or have a look at our Early Years Foundation Stage display in the foyer at Nursery.

Everything that a baby tastes, hears, sees, feels and smells, and all of a baby’s own movements will influence the way the brain makes its connections, so the more varied and appropriate the play experiences we offer, the better these neural pathways are formed. It is important to give babies interesting sensory experiences, as well as the love and care that are essential to their continual development.

Everything in the new room is interesting to the babies and we have enjoyed observing them using their five senses to actively explore the new spaces around them. They have been making many new discoveries through their play, and are enjoying making it happen again and again and again!

The team are currently developing treasure baskets and nursery rhyme sacks with the support of Tanya Mason from Histon Early Years Centre, Cambridge who is a long term Early Years Professional student working with us one day a week.