Lodge Day Nursery in Ipswich took part in our Champions for Children project this year, which aimed to boost the language, social and emotional development of children under five in Ipswich.
The project was run by the National Literacy Trust and EasyPeasy, supported by the Ipswich Opportunity Area and the Ipswich Teaching & Research School, and funded by the Department for Education Opportunity Area Programme.
As part of the project, early years professionals from Lodge Day Nursery took part in training to learn new techniques to support children’s language development, strategies to help parents support their child’s learning at home, and small changes they can make to the classroom to encourage children to chat, play and read more often. In the long-term, this project will contribute towards greater social mobility, the key aim of the IOA.
After reviewing the nursery’s existing provision, the newly trained Child Development Champions decided to make a number of simple changes to the nursery environment to ensure it was supporting children's language, social and emotional development and engaging parents in the best possible way.
The nursery introduced more display boards around the classroom to help stimulate children’s learning, boost their communication skills and support their emotional development.
An ‘Emotion Board’ was created to provide staff with a variety of opportunities to explore children’s feelings. A mirror was added to the board so that children can see their own facial expressions and staff also bought various books relating to friends, family and feelings to read together to help children talk about their emotions. Staff and parents have already noticed that children are acknowledging and identifying their feelings more easily and more often. One parent commented: “I must get more some mirrors for my child to play with at home as I didn’t realise she is reading others’ facial expressions and using them herself.”
The nursery staff also collaborated with the children to create an ‘Adventurers Rules’ display, which sets out clear rules about how children should behave at nursery and how they should look after the classroom. The display stands at the children’s eye level so they can refer to it whenever they need to. By giving the children an understanding of their rights to be kept safe and their responsibilities to help keep the classroom tidy, they’ve been encouraged to talk using appreciative language and treat others fairly, too.
To help children understand the concept of time and prepare them for change, staff installed a visual timeline that highlights key moments in the year. Staff feel that this has reduced anxiety and contributed towards children’s emotional development by supporting them to communicate through a visual representation of a calendar.
When families arrive at the nursery, they are now greeted with welcoming photos of the staff who are working at the nursery that day, giving parents the opportunity to talk to their children about who is looking after them. Creating display boards specifically for parents also really helped to engage them and start conversations about their child’s learning and development needs.
The introduction of the EasyPeasy app has also helped to engage parents with supporting their children’s development at home by encouraging them to play simple and fun games together.
The staff received lots praise from parents since the changes were implemented and the staff feel this has given them an understanding of the importance of not only using themselves as role models but also use displays and resources to stimulate and support children’s development. One parent said: “Since the nursery has made a timeline in my son’s room, he goes in confidently showing me what he is going to do today and what time Mummy comes back.”
Champions for Children is run by the National Literacy Trust and EasyPeasy, supported by the Ipswich Opportunity Area and the Ipswich Teaching & Research School, and funded by the Department for Education Opportunity Area Programme.