Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make my child’s settling in and nursery experience on the whole more enjoyable?

  • Say positive things to your child about the nursery during the week before he or she will first attend.
  • Talk to your child about what happens in the nursery. Help him or her know what to expect.
  • Inform the nursery officers if your child has a special challenge, such as a food allergy.
  • Reassure your child that you will come back later.
  • Promptly return to pick up your child at the end of the nursery session. If someone other than a authorised collector will pick up your child, please let the nursery leaders know that this person has your permission to do so and provide them with your password.
  • Reinforce at home what is taught in the nursery.
  • If possible, please provide a photograph of your child and a photograph of your child’s family for their file.

My child always seems to come home from nursery with food or paint on their clothes.

Although bibs/aprons/overalls are provided at mealtimes and for messy activities, our children are no different from any other children. They all show immense curiosity and an insatiable desire to learn. They always derive pleasure from their endless explorations, no matter how splashed with paint and clay their clothes are, or how wet and dirty they get in the garden.

Staff will attempt to ensure that the children’s clothes are cared for, especially when taking part in messy activities or at mealtimes, which may cause the child’s clothes to be soiled. However, with the best will in the world, we cannot guarantee that your child will remain pristine all day.

Therefore, it would be advisable not to put new or expensive clothing on your child. We cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage to clothes. An outdoor coat and appropriate footwear plus Wellingtons should be available at all times. Clothes should be labelled with your child’s name. Parents of nursery children should ensure that they provide us with sufficient spare clothing to allow for several changes, labelled with their child’s name. Clothes should be replenished according to season and size.

If your child does come home from nursery looking dishevelled, you can be sure that they have been busy having fun.  The real time to worry is if they come home spotless every day!

Why does my child never bring a painting home from nursery, when her friends always seem to bring something home?

In the past it was expected that every child would come out clutching an identical piece of ‘creative’ work or a beautifully coloured in worksheet. But everything has changed; it is the practical activities that take place in the session that reflect the true learning and development of the children. Due to the emphasis on practical play this may mean there is often nothing to take home. It is not what the children bring home in their hands that is important it is what they bring home in their heads.

It is important that parents do not put unnecessary pressure on their children and the practitioners by expecting end products.

Another area in which the emphasis has changed has been in the use of worksheets. In the past children have spent time completing worksheets which we now know are of little value. Some children enjoy colouring in worksheets but for other children it is a worthless task requiring skills that they have not yet developed. Practitioners are now looking at the best ways in which children learn and all influential early years educators agree that this is through practical activities and first hand experiences.

The following piece of writing gives an example of what your child may experience in a typical day at nursery:

What did you do at playgroup today?

Well, I sat at the dough table and rolled the dough in my hands. Lucy said hers was a snake, but mine was a worm. The lady talked about long ones and short ones and medium sized ones, and Sarah rolled her dough so long it went right over the edge of the table.

(And no one said, “What are you going to make? A cake would be nice.”)

Yes, but then what did you do?

I played on the trampoline and I can bounce really high.

(I bounced twelve times – that was more than anyone else).

Yes, but did you do anything today?

Sarah and I went to the paint table. It was lovely, all gooey and slippery on our hands. We made lots of patterns with our fingers and elbows. Sarah had yellow paint and I had red and Mummy, do you know what? If you mix red and yellow together it goes orange .

(And no one said, “What a mess you’ve made!”)

Yes but what else have you done?

I put on a wig and a hat and pretended to be a grown up lady.

And then did you do anything?

At milk time I gave apples out and I didn’t drop any. (I had to find two more from the kitchen because Sally and Richard didn’t have any).

But did you do anything today?

Sarah and I played in the sand and we had a race to see who could make the sand wheel go the quickest.

And then what did you do?

We sang some songs (Five Little Speckled Frogs’) and then I was tired and wanted you Mummy. The lady sat me down on her lap and gave me a cuddle while she read the story. It was about a caterpillar. Do you know Mummy that caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies?

So did you do anything today?

Yes, when the lady said, “It’s time to tidy up”, I quickly painted a picture ‘cos I knew you’d say …..

“What did you do at playgroup today?”

By Sue Heard

My pre school child doesn’t seem to hold a pencil correctly.  How can we help him?

It can often be very tempting to want to encourage your child to begin to read and write ‘properly’ before they may be ready, especially if your friends’ child who is 6 months younger can already write her name and can recite the alphabet!

Some early years specialists are concerned that we want them to conform to small motor tasks too early and let the importance of talking slip in favour of paper and pencil.

Such specialists believe we should be aiming to develop a detailed curriculum for three- to six-year-olds that introduces language, listening and literacy skills through activities that evolve out of play and exploration. Foundations of Literacy emphasises oral language and uses music, movement and stories to introduce ideas of reading and writing.

Even from a very early age, children who pour their food and drinks onto their high chair table are not just messing with their food but experiencing valuable sensory experiences and the early stages of making marks.

Many pre school children of this age often still have baby fat around their hands. They can’t hold a small pen in a chubby fist. Their bones and muscles are also still developing and forcing them to use a small pencil grip before they are ready could actually damage their grip in the future

At Toddle In, children are encouraged to write with their fingers in shaving foam, gloop, glitter or sand, or to use large sticks of chalk to make marks on the playground. They may paint using various implements and may sometimes produce lists or letters, showing the beginnings of letters and words. We get children to write by standing, while listening to music and making massive movements with both hands.

With this sort of approach, they come to everything just as quickly, but the difference is that they aren’t turned off in the process. Children develop at such different rates that you could label a child a failure at five and find that three months later they are flying ahead. Parents are only human… they are going to put pressure on their child to improve but their may be more fun ways to do this so that children do not feel under pressure or come to feel disaffected later in their education.

Practicing writing and drawing activities at home should always be fun. Some suggestions for fun activities are:

  • practicing the skills using a variety of materials for example, pencils, pens, crayons, chalks, and paint. Other sensory materials e.g. drawing into wet or dry sand, playdough, gloop (cornflower mixed with water) or mud with either a stick or a finger
  • writing on the wall / floor – use a paintbrush with water to make large patterns (and it magically dries away ready for another day)
  • drawing doodle pictures and pictures
  • drawing monsters (fold a strip of paper into thirds lengthways, draw a head and then fold it under, swap paper and draw a body, swap again and draw legs, swap again and open it up to see what funny creatures you have created)
  • getting your child to write (or draw) things to help you e.g. the shopping list or to-do-list – a whiteboard is fun for this
  • writing (or drawing) a holiday diary / scrapbook
  • completing puzzles e.g. mazes, word searches and simple crosswords
  • playing games that involve writing / drawing e.g. noughts and crosses, hangman or pictionary

Will my child be allowed to sleep at nursery – he will only take an afternoon nap on the settee though?

Staff will work to adopt an environment where children are able to sleep when they need to or at parental request. They will make comforters available when necessary. Individual bedding will be supplied to those children who rest. Children will not be left unsupervised.

We aim to provide an environment and routine as similar to home as possible and so if your child has a nap in a pram, cot, bed or settee, we will try to accommodate for this at nursery. Children will be monitored at regular intervals.

My child is being toilet trained – how does nursery cater for this?

There will be constant observation to enable children to be encouraged to go to the toilet/potty as soon as signs/needs are recognised. Toilet training will begin in conjunction with parents. Parents must ensure we are provided with an adequate supply of nappies, wipes, pants and creams. It would be helpful to children and staff during this time if body suits, dungarees and belts were not worn.

My child has just started nursery and always seems to be poorly – why is this? Also, when is my child classed as too sick’ for nursery?

Please refer to our Sickness Policy in your welcome pack for full details. However, these sites give an overview of common childhood illnesses and whether your child is well enough to attend school/nursery.