Got a 2-year-old who is ready for nursery/preschool? Then you’ll know how difficult it can be to choose between the different offerings from small local school provisions to independent forest schools, Montessori and hybrid models. Here are 7 tips to help you make your choice.
Invest time in choosing wisely
0-5 really matters as evidenced by the think tank and study supported by the Duchess of Cambridge. If you are going to invest in your child’s education and have limited means, this is a key stage that warrants taking the time to choose the right education setting. Why? Neuroscience reveals that more neural pathways are formed during this time than any other time in your child’s brain. Now is a great time to ask yourself: Are you looking to encourage an independent curious child who loves creating, learning and knows how to form and develop positive relationships with peers? Or is your primary goal to encourage your child to be great at reading, maths and writing ready to conquer our current Victorian curriculum? For the record, the consultancy Mckinsey & Co report on skills needed for the Jobs of 2030 and beyond proves that creativity and collaboration are the key skills that will be needed in the job market of the future. Given that this is when the most neural pathways are formed, what neural foundations do you want to build in your child’s brain?
Fully outdoor forest school vs indoor nurseries that hold forest sessions a few hours a week
The data is clear when it comes to forest school education – the more children spend time outdoors the better it is for their confidence, powers of concentration and development. Some parents have a fear of forest schools throughout the winter and what children would do in continuous rain and snow. The age-old saying is that there is no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing. Most outdoor forest schools should have indoor spaces that can be used in the event of severe bad and adverse weather conditions.
Reflect on your child’s education after nursery
Would you be willing to commit to a certain type of education all the way? Or would you like to make sure that your child attends a hybrid model? These bring the best of forest school and creative approaches but don’t create a disconnect from modern and community life.
“It takes a village to raise a child”
Children feel safe and rooted where they feel part of a community. This also relates to the famous Psychologist Maslow’s hierarchy of needs chart. He described the sense of belonging to the community as essential to self-esteem and development. Choose a nursery/preschool with good links to the local schools and community. Are children inspired to learn and be part of the community? How many local visits happen to support this? Make note of these social relationships because they matter. How connected are the parents to the setting? Are there family gatherings to support the parent, nursery and teacher community?
See the environment “as the third teacher”
After you as a parent, and your child’s nursery teacher, the environment plays a huge factor in teaching your child. Focus on spaces that are innovative and peaceful that can give your child a “home away from home” experience. What feeling do you get when you walk in? Is the space inspiring and creative or is it cluttered and busy with lots of different areas marked out for play? Could your child easily flit from one thing to another all day? Do the environment and schedule allow for uninterrupted playtime, proper support and “flow” to deepen understanding, critical thinking and learning?
Pay attention to the staff/child ratio
Children thrive when given space and time and supported in their development. Staff to child ratios matter as it means your children will get the specialist focus time they need to feel seen, validated and supported. This also allows their development stage to be understood properly and then extended. Highly experienced and highly qualified staff to child ratios achieve just that – quality education for your child.
Choose a nursery where staff work shifts mean they are energised and not tired all the time
Spend time understanding who the educators are and what the staff turnover rate is like. Is the team buzzing and happy or are they tired and overworked due to long hours? Are the staff inspiring and spend time supporting the children, extending their development? Or are they having to be more passive in their engagement with the children?
For more personalised support on choosing your child’s nursery please click here to speak to our team. We would also be happy to explain how Wild about Play delivers community, connected, hybrid and outdoor education for those interested.