It’s time to start a national conversation about what education looks like in nursery
21st February 2018
By June O’Sullivan
I am worried. Children as young as two are starting “big school”. This is too young and not necessarily the right place for them at such a tender age. I would prefer they remained in nursery with higher ratios, a homelier environment and staff trained specifically for this age range. Just like their peers across the world.
Why is this happening? Because schools are encouraged to set up nurseries with Government policies create easier routes for setting them up. There are more generous funding rates and headteachers continue to tell parents that they cannot guarantee a school place if the child doesn’t attend the nursery, despite all the protestations from policy makers. We all know that it’s not true, but parents believe them. Indeed this was recently confirmed in our annual parents’ questionnaire.
So how do we challenge this? We explain to parents what education looks like in nursery.
Many parents assume that education is for school and nursery is just all about playing and being kept safe. Of course, those of us who work in early years know it’s much more complex! In our world of communication overload, we must make space to start a national conversation about what the best nursery education looks like in a nursery.
Here are my top ten steps to shape a plan to enlighten the great British public:
1. Introduce the concept of the image of the modern child and what that means for identifying what they need to know and be able to do?
2. Educate people about how small children learn
3. Talk about the science of play
4. Bring the learning environment alive with examples of learning in action
5. Clarify how the child’s physical development is key to learning; they are not just running around!
6. Define the importance of social development and how the nursery nurtures this
7. Explain that talking, listening and conversing are essential for children to learn to think. Best done in a natural way with high staff ratios
8. Articulate early education teaching methods
9. Enlighten people about how children learn through routine activities including mealtimes
10. Show how nursery led multi-generational activities builds social capital through community networks which support children’s learning of tolerance and acceptance.
June is speaking at Childcare Expo London on Friday 2nd March. Book your seats today!