Physical Health for Children at our Leeds Nursery

The Five Big Questions - Part One

After recently announcing her 5 big questions survey, Inspirations has decided to take a closer look at what exactly the Duchess of Cambridge is interested in finding out. Starting with question one: 

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN GROWING UP IN THE UK TODAY TO LIVE A HAPPY ADULT LIFE?

We are offered the four options below and asked to put into priority order.

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Good friendships and relationships
  • Access to opportunities
  • Access to a good education

I found it tricky to prioritise these categories, as here at Inspirations we view each point as being an equally important factor in raising a healthy happy child.  Much thought has gone into how Inspirations operates in order to successfully cover these four areas.

Physical and Mental Health

Our outdoor learning environment and forest school ethos naturally promotes good physical and mental health. Children with spaces for running around and climbing trees naturally develop muscle strength, aerobic fitness, and better coordination. A Scottish study found activity levels were 2.2 times higher in a typical Forest School day than during a school day that included PE lessons. Not to mention that as parents we love our children to get plenty of healthy fresh air which our location offers in abundance, set a fair way from any roads and surrounded by country fields and a section of the wooded Leeds Way.

 

Friendships and Relationships

Playing alongside our children every day are of course their friends.  Friendships in the early years are so important to our developing children, they help them build self-confidence, develop their social and emotional skills and their understanding of the world around them.  Sometimes of course, children struggle to mediate their emotions and play can quickly turn to squabbling and tears.  It is then that our expert educators’ step in and support our children in understanding their emotions and help support them to make the right choices.

 

 

Access to Opportunities

Its safe to say that Inspirations children have an abundance of opportunities on offer! Daily forest school sessions, an art studio compete with art teacher, an array of fabulous loose parts and open-ended resources and the freedom to choose where and what they do with their day!

A Good Education

At Inspirations we pride ourselves on getting our children ‘school ready’.  With our experienced educators we spend much of our time planning for your child’s education and learning journey.  We observe their interests and extend on that incorporating numeracy, literacy, science and anything else we can cram in for their eager sponge like brains! Throughout their time with us we will track their development and ensure they are on track for the best possible start on their journey to being happy adults.

If you decide to take the survey which would you prioritise as being your number one important factor for developing into a happy adult?

Next week look out for my blog on question two, who is primarily responsible for a child’s health and happiness?

-Nicola


Exploring tunnels at our Leeds Nursery

The First 1000 Days

The importance of our children’s early years remains high on the public and political agenda, and for very good reason. When it comes to the health and happiness of your child, the first 1000 days of life are the building blocks of their future. 

‘Five Big Questions’ is a landmark survey recently launched by the Duchess of Cambridge. It aims to discover what we as a society feel are the things that provide children with the best possible start in life. 

The survey prompted us to take at the first 1000 days in a child’s life, and how together we can make them amazing. 

THE FIRST 1000 DAYS - WHY THEY MATTER. 

From conception to the age of three, your child will learn more, and develop faster, than at any other point in their life. During this time, your child is capable of forming up to 1,000 neural connections every second. More mind-boggling is the fact that your three year old’s brain works twice as fast as yours - this probably explains why you sometimes need a second pair of eyes in the back of your head!

HOW WE’RE NURTURING YOUR CHILD’S EARLY YEARS. 

From the moment your baby joins our nursery, we look for the things that spark their interest and make them smile. We’re constantly planning the next steps on their learning adventure. One of the ways we do this is by observing some of the seemingly weird but really wonderful things that your child may become fascinated with.

Schemas are recurring patterns of behaviour that give your child a cognitive blueprint to find the best and most efficient ways of carrying out future tasks. Essentially, schema play is your child making sense of the world around them when they encounter something new.

It’s important to remember that every child is different. Your child may display examples of some schemas or none at all, and that’s OK.  Our job is to encourage each schema if and when those behaviours are displayed. Below, you’ll find some examples of how we’re doing just that.

Rotation and Transporting. 

You might see your little one turning in circles, or taking any opportunity to roll down a hill. These are both classic examples of the rotation schema. We encourage the children’s interest in circular and curved objects, and those that rotate, to support their exploration of all things that spin.

 

 

 

 

Children love to move objects around in and around their environment. We encourage them to use handbags, basket and also their hands, to transport their playthings around the nursery.

Enveloping and Trajectory. 

 

To encourage enveloping behaviour, we let the children wrap themselves in blankets and scarves, which is a lot of fun! We provide them with paper and other material so that they can wrap up various objects around them. We also let them experiment with small containers with lids.

 

 

 

 

 

There is a current fascination in the Pre-School room with rolling things down pipes and tubes. In addition, we’ve found that encouraging children to roll marbles down the slide is a great way to nurture the trajectory area of their development*. Children love to learn about how things move. It’s why they enjoy repeatedly dropping things from surfaces, playing on swings and putting their hands under running water.

(*Please note that marbles are only used in our pre-school room under close supervision).

 

Enclosing and Connecting. 

We recognise the enclosing schema when children enjoy things like making dens and climbing into just about anything. We love to see them climbing into (and hiding in) our wooden tunnels.

             

 

We never cease to be amazed by the children’s fascination with how things connect! From magnetic trains and spoons to lego, glue and sticky tape, we provide them with the opportunity to explore how the things around them fit together.

Here at Inspirations, we’re dedicated to supporting your child through the first 1000 days and beyond. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. We’re always happy to hear from you so that together we can encourage your child’s learning every step of the way. 

If you’d like any further information about the Five Big Questions Survey or would like to discuss any aspect of your child’s development, contact us now

 

 


Ambiguous Resources

Here’s a wonderful example of how ambiguous resources can capture imagination, this week I left a small wooden door on a grass table to see what the pre-schoolers would make of it. Every group that came into the art studio used it in a different way; the first group passing pine cones through it to each other, the second group hiding behind it, knocking and opening it to reveal their faces before hysterical bursts of laughter, and others simply playing with the lock figuring out how it worked.

Some thought it was the best thing ever, others ignored it.

One little girl spent a long time playing with the door and when I asked her what it was, she whispered to me...

’This is how you get into the magic forest!’

Every child really is completely unique.


All Hands on Deck

Earlier in the year some coffee playdough lead to an interest in mixing with smells, so we used basil, ginger, rosemary, lemon, thyme and cinnamon to incorporate into our mixtures.

'I smell ginger, let's make ginger bread men'

This interest in mixing and ingredients lead to the creation of gingerbread people, we used the gingerbread cutters on the projector which brought them to life and provided the opportunity for the children to climb into the ginger bread projections.

'When i was little i used to be a gingerbread man'

'I didn't eat mine when i got home it just ran as fast as it could out my door and a bear ate it'

Some children were expressing an interest in pirates at this point and whilst playing around on the light projector with the ginger bread cutters a piece of foam piping became a pirate hat for the gingerbread man.

'He's a pirate! A gingerbread pirate'

We placed a vote to decide if we should use our large cardboard box for a Pirate ship or a Gingerbread house, the majority chose pirate ship and so piece by piece they created their own ship, flag, wheel and parrot.

We used scales to measure the weights of treasure, created maps, used compasses, flags, telescopes and one child decided our ship needed a parrot. During forest school the children followed clues left by a pirate who had stolen some of our nursery toys and buried them in the woods, and they even used literacy skills to write back to the pirate.

This pirate interest developed as the children turned to makers, explorers and adventures, they had the chance to build their confidence whilst engaging in role play, sailing to far away islands to reclaim treasure and being completely in control of their own learning.

 

 

 


Thinking Outside The Box

'Colour is a power that directly influences the soul'- Wasily Kandinsky

At Inspirations, children always think outside the box. Just the other day when a group of preschoolers were making scented playdough during their art session, a child exclaimed; “Smells are like things you can smell but you smell them and you see it in your eyes”. When another added that smells can be seen, lovely smells as well as bad smells.

As a Senior Educator I am required to make sure that the preschool provision fits relevant standards set and recommended by Ofsted, Early Years Foundation Stage, Health and Safety regulations, Safeguarding and Child Protection, UNCRC, Children Acts etc. I have forms and tick lists for absolutely everything. My life has become a policy and a procedure easily entered into a Microsoft Spreadsheet, whereas a child’s view of life is magnificent, limitless and without bounderies. And I am not referring to imagination. The child from the art session was not using imagination when linking smells to vision, she was critically evaluating; using the skill needed for graduate-level research.

So often, the education systems forgets that children are pools of limitless knowledge that can not be defined by regulations, tick lists and spreadsheets. This made me reflect, if smells can be seen, can our feelings be defined by something other than smiley and sad faces; the traditional representation of feelings and emotions in a typical nursery setting? Why do we tend to simplify everything in order for children to gain understanding if the understanding is already there? Maybe it’s actually us, the practitioners that need to open their eyes to smells..

Therefore, I’ve decided to rebel against the traditional thinking and broaden our own understanding of life through the eyes of three and four year olds. I am looking forward to exploring the spectrum of feelings and thoughts through the use of colours. I believe, it was the founder of abstract art forms, Wassily Kandinsky who said that colour is a power that directly influences the soul, lets see if he is right.

Michaela- Pre-School Room Leader


End of Year - Here's to 2018

Two thousand and eighteen has been a year full of development and hard work and I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to my wonderful, hardworking team! Some members have been with me since the beginning (or very near to) and I value and appreciate them beyond measure as I know you do too. The love and care they show the children is the thing I am most proud of! Without their continued passion and support, all we have achieved this year would not have been possible.

And our achievements have been huge.

Early in the year plans began to take shape to change our name from Dolphins Day Nursery to Inspirations, a decision not taken lightly but one I felt needed to be done to carry us into the future. I was sad to say goodbye but also extremely proud of everything we had achieved in the fifteen years we had been.

Inspirations Nurseries and Forest School was a concept that has slowly evolved. Through staff’s continual professional development, new ideas, thoughts and pedagogical approach started to emerge and influence our practice. Concepts such as child led learning, loose parts play, the benefits of teaching through art and of course forest school and outdoor learning. We began by Introducing ‘Forest School Lisa’ who came to deliver forest school one day a week, changed our environments to include loose parts and discarded our plastic toys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every time I turned the corner into nursery the overgrown messy land out the front (which at that point didn’t belong to us) would stare me in the face and I would think ‘what a waste’ So, I contacted Leeds City Council and managed to include this space into our lease agreement with them. Building work began in May and today I look out our window and see all the physical hard work Colin, my Husband has put in for me over the year. Again, I find myself having to say a big thank you to him. Utilising his skills and knowledge has saved me thousands and thousands of pounds and I know, without him, nursery would never have been able to afford what he has so amazingly built for us.

But, there is still lots to do...

Although building work is almost complete, staff are still working hard to embed new practice and routines. They will continue reviewing and adjusting practice according to the needs and wellbeing requirements of the children. Staff throughout Inspirations will continue their journey of professional development and learning, and we will continue to endeavour to deliver the best childcare in the area!

We are all really looking forward to the year ahead and taking on all the new and exciting challenges a new year brings. Our children have another year of learning opportunities and I and my team will be here to support, encourage and enhance each educational experience so that your children are school ready and raring to go.

Finally, I would just like to say thank you too, to our children who, every day bring joy, laughter and inspiration to us all!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Nicola MacGregor

 


September in the Yurt

Over the past few weeks we have seen the children flourish, their confidence grow and new friendships made. As they leave their curiosity in bees behind with the season, autumn has provided ample natural resources to explore and create with. Their interests are currently mixing colours, autumn leaves, construction and music, so we will be following these interests to see what exciting path they lead us down.  The yurt now has its own guitar, ukulele and drum, and the children have enjoyed singing their own songs and initiating their own music sessions. Weekly forest schools sessions are in full flow, and for some it's their first time doing forest school; keep an eye out for the colourful stones they've painted and hidden.

We've used water colours for still life painting, clay to make leaf prints, sculptures with conkers and started creating a space for hedgehogs to hibernate.

Last week the Ladybirds outdoor provision celebrated its 1 month anniversary! Here's a message from the Room Leader Michaela:

'There are a million words I could describe our brand new journey together but there is only one specific word that covers the amazing, boundary pushing learning adventure: WOW!

Wow to your incredible children for embracing change with huge smiles on their faces.

Wow to all our families for believing in our inspirational philosophy.

Wow to Lisa, Sophie, Rachel, Stuart, Paula, Lauren and Nathalie for their super hard work and outstanding positive attitude towards achieving our goals.

And Wow to the family-setting partnerships which I hope will only grow stronger in the future. 
Let’s inspire each other and help our children discover their unique potential.' 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Yurt Beautiful Yurt

It's all hands on deck, and coming together quite nicely. Our yurt is now complete as we move onto completing the deck.


Yurt Framework

Framework for Decking

The framework for the decking is being pieced together, using extra treated posts, upon which the yurt will sit. 


'If we didn't have bees we wouldn't have honey'

'They use their legs to clean themselves, just like Tinkerbell'