An interview with Meadowbank Day Nursery
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and the nursery you run?
Hi, my name is Claire Pudney and I am the manager of Meadowbank Day Nursery in Abergavenny. Before opening my nursery I was a Reception and Key Stage 1 teacher for 13 years and prior to that a nursery nurse where I worked in various day nurseries and primary schools.
At Meadowbank Day Nursery our mission is to be the friendliest local day nursery where everyone feels welcome and included. We aim to provide families with high quality flexible care and education whilst embracing the Birth to Three Matter Framework and the Foundation Phase.
We believe that a homely atmosphere is paramount and aim to provide a safe and caring environment where all children can feel happy and relaxed and develop to their full potential.
The first few years of a child's life are important informative years and at Meadowbank Day Nursery we focus on the needs of the whole child.
Why do you believe parents choose a nursery over a childminder for their kids?
Sending your child to nursery is one of the biggest steps you will have to make as a parent. It can be a very sensitive time, but nursery can have a positive and long term impact on children’s capabilities, progress and social development.
At a nursery your little one will have access to a wider variety of play equipment. They will learn how to share toys and take turns which is all character building. Your child will learn to listen to other children’s play plans and follow their instructions as well as giving their own.
As well as increasing your child’s independence and confidence and having the companionship of other children and learning to play with others, your child will have the chance to make relationships with other adults. This will help them learn that other people as well as her parents can be trusted and liked.
Joining a nursery is an enormous adventure for many children because it is the first time they go and do something on their own with other adults who are not relatives or very close friends.
When your child settles happily at nursery they will gain valuable experiences of happy separations, learning to be without you and knowing that you can go and be trusted to come back later.
Here is our top five reasons for sending your child to nursery:
1. Nursery prepares your child for school
Children benefit immensely from mixing with other children and will therefore be more prepared and better equipped when it comes to starting school.
They will also adapt easily to a learning environment, have greater social skills and they will feel more secure in a different environment. Nursery will have also helped your child develop confidence in relating to adults.
Understanding what is expected of them, having been at nursery, they will have a good idea of how to behave.
2. Nursery encourages playtime
Your child will have a chance to play and learn in a group and one-to-one with a member of staff. They will also benefit from playing with other children, as this can help them to gain confidence and develop their social skills.
An active toddler is likely to remain active later, so it is important to encourage activities both indoors and outdoors. You want your children to love the great outdoors, not the TV, one thing you don’t see at a nursery is a television. At home it is very easy to turn on the TV to give yourself some time off. Play is vitally important as your children will develop muscle control, balance and coordination.
The range of messy play activities at a nursery are far greater than can possibly be available at home, including water, sand, paint and glue.
3. Nursery supports potty training
If you send your children to nursery for several days a week, potty training will prove a breeze. Potty training is obviously not a sole reason to send your children to nursery, but in terms of general lifestyle assistance, every little helps.
4. Nursery helps children develop social skills and make friends
Socialising with other children is vital for your child’s successful development. They will be eager to engage with their peers and become aware of the attachment they feel towards children they regularly play with.
Toddlers get a lot out of being with other children. Nothing that you can do can make up for the excitement that other children provide.
5. There is financial support available
If one of the reasons you are not sending your child to nursery is due to the costs, see if you can get help. Some employers will provide childcare vouchers, so check with your human resources department to see if you can get help. Many parents can also get extra help with the costs of approved or registered childcare through tax credits.
When it comes to determining whether they will benefit from being sent to a nursery, take a look at the overall quality of the environment, staff, learning and activities which they will be offered as this is the most important thing to consider.
If you are still anxious about sending your child to nursery you can also speak to other parents, visit the nursery unexpectedly, make sure staff turnover isn’t high and talk to the people actually caring for their child, not just the director
How do you ensure care is specific to each individual child’s needs?
At Meadowbank Nursery, we understand how important it is for you to find the best childcare for your little ones. As a parent myself I know that leaving a child is never easy, but you can be rest assured that with our nurturing and caring environment, our nursery will become their "home from home". Our main objective is to ensure the children are welcomed into a caring and nurturing environment which is adapted to suit their own individual needs. It is important to us that we work in partnership with the parents, carers and any external agencies when welcoming a child into our setting.
We continually observe all of our children in order to understand and consider their current interests, development and learning. It is how we as professionals find out the specific needs of individual children by carefully looking, listening and noting the activities of a child or group of children.
What is a typical day like for you and the children you look after?
In terms of myself, no day is typical. Each day brings with it its own challenge.
However my role includes the following:
- To promote the aims and objectives of the nursery
- To promote the high standards of the nursery at all times to parents, staff and visitors.
- To ensure the provision of high standards of physical, personal, social and emotional care.
- To plan and organise staffing schedules and holiday rotas to ensure adequate staffing levels are maintained in accordance with CSSIW guidelines and nursery procedures.
- To be aware of and act in accordance with current legislation, good practice, nursery policies and procedures.
- To be responsible for all nursery staff. Supervising and supporting all members of the nursery team in their day-to-day duties including recruitment and induction, appraisals and reviews, training and development, individual supervisions and discipline.
- Ensuring all staff have an up to date DBS certificate
- Liaising with CSSIW and other professional bodies associated with the nursery
- Overseeing the upkeep and maintenance of the building and grounds, stock equipment, furnishings and fittings
- Being responsible for all administrative duties
- Coordinating and chairing staff meetings
- To instigate the development and implementation of systems to monitor and record child development
- To be responsible for the overall health and safety standards within the nursery and ensuring staff compliance and awareness, including training where appropriate
- To oversee that the agreed high standards of hygiene and cleanliness are maintained at all times
- To ensure the provision of a high-quality environment to meet the needs of individual children regardless of any disabilities, family backgrounds or medical history.
As you can see the list is endless!
Please note that all times and activities are flexible depending on the needs of the child/ children.
To ease the transition from home to nursery, our very young babies follow a flexible routine, dependant on their individual needs with regards to food, playtime, sleep and nappy changing.
Our older babies also have flexible routines, but as they grow and become more independent, they tend to adopt a more consistent pattern that the whole group loosely follows. Meal times, sleep and play all start to follow more of a routine.
By the time they move to the toddler area they will have completely adapted to the nursery schedule.
In line with best practice we would recommend that a baby is not left for longer than 10 hours a day.
The toddler day is divided into a morning session and an afternoon session. Activities are carried out throughout the day with children stopping for mid-morning, lunchtime and mid-afternoon breaks.
Toddlers are encouraged to take a nap or rest after lunch and this is usually for around two hours. If you wish your child to have more, less or no sleep at all, just inform the staff.
Throughout the day, there is plenty of opportunity for the all-important unstructured play (or free time). There are also periods of planned educational activities that help the children reinforce old and new skills, and to develop confidence and independence in a more structured way.
We follow the Birth to Three Matters Framework to plan activities, monitor progress and assess the children’s development and needs. All the planned activities take into account the capabilities of each individual child. Regardless of their stage of development, all children will be encouraged to develop at their own pace, with no pressure and in such a way as to allow them to blossom with confidence.
All the planned activities are designed to develop the children’s motor skills, sociability and learning experiences. Some of the activities include:
- Sand, water and messy play.
- Creative play and modelling.
- Shape sorting and puzzles.
- Rhymes, counting and singing.
- Number and letter recognition and sorting
- Storytelling and book corner
- Painting and gluing
- Outdoor Play
The preschool day is divided into a morning session and an afternoon session. Activities are carried out throughout the day with children stopping for mid-morning, lunchtime and mid-afternoon breaks.
Preschool children have lots of the critical free play, but their time is balanced with more structured activities that are focussed on the Foundation Phase seven areas of learning.
The Foundation Phase, is a framework for nursery and school children, aged 3 to 7,that was introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government in September 2008.
Focussed activities are linked to themed topics that will enhance the children’s learning experiences, build confidence and develop independence through the medium of play.
After School/Holiday area
This area offers a relaxing space for the children to complete homework and to enjoy a variety of activities such as:
- Art and craft activities
- Table tennis
- Play station
- Computers (supervised activities)
- Outdoor activities
- Visits and outings
- Xbox, Wii, Playstation
How do you ensure the safety of the children in your care?
‘the protection of the child is the first priority and it is everybody’s responsibility’
At Meadowbank Day Nursery we work with children, parents, external agencies and the community to ensure the welfare and safety of children and to give them the very best start in life. Children have the right to be treated with respect, be helped to thrive and to be safe from any abuse in whatever form.
We support the children within our care, protect them from maltreatment and have robust procedures in place to prevent the impairment of children’s health and development.
To safeguard children and promote their welfare all staff:
- Create an environment to encourage children to develop a positive self-image
- Provide positive role models and develop a safe culture where staff are confident to raise concerns about professional conduct
- Encourage children to develop a sense of independence and autonomy in a way that is appropriate to their age and stage of development
- Provide a safe and secure environment for all children
- Promote tolerance and acceptance of different beliefs, cultures and communities
- Always listen to children
- Risk assessments are conducted on all areas of the nursery, including rooms, activities, outdoor areas, resources and cleaning equipment
- All outings away from the nursery (however short) include a prior risk assessment.
- All equipment, rooms and outdoor areas are checked thoroughly by staff before children access them or the area. These checks re recorded and initialled by the staff responsible.
- We have a clear accident and first aid policy to follow in the case of any person in the nursery suffering injury from an accident or incident
- We have a clear fire safety policy and procedure which supports the prevention of fire and the safe evacuation of all persons in the nursery.
How do you keep parents informed?
Daily conversations with key workers, daily written information sheets for babies and diaries for our main nursery children inform parents about their child’s day. Children’s progress is closely monitored and electronic learning journeys are sent home termly.
We also send home regular newsletters and topic letters, update our website and Facebook page as well as posting information on our parent noticeboard.
What is your approach to discipline?
At Meadowbank Day Nursery we believe that children flourish best when they know how they and others are expected to behave. Children gain respect through interaction with caring adults who act as good role models, show them respect and value their individual personalities. The nursery encourages and praises positive, caring and polite behaviour at all times in and provides an environment where children learn to respect themselves, other people and their surroundings.
We aim to:
- Recognise the individuality of all our children
- Encourage self-discipline, consideration for each other, our surroundings and property
- Encourage children to participate in a wide range of group activities to enable them to develop their social skills
- Ensure that all staff act as positive role models for children
- Encourage parents and other visitors to be positive role models and challenge any poor behaviour shown
- Work in partnership with parents by communicating openly
- Praise children and acknowledge their positive actions and attitudes, therefore
- ensuring that children see that we value and respect them
- Provide a key worker system enabling staff to build a strong and positive relationship with children and their families
- Provide activities and stories to help children learn about accepted behaviours, including opportunities for children to contribute to decisions about accepted behaviour where age/stage appropriate
What professional qualifications do you have?
I currently hold the following qualifications:
- BA Hons in Primary Studies with QTS
- Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years Education
- Level 3 Forest School Practitioner
- BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies (Nursery Nursing)
I am currently studying for the following:
- Edexcel Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Children’s Care, Learning and Development (Management
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
At Meadowbank Day Nursery we value our staff highly. We believe that personal and professional development is essential for maintaining the delivery of high-quality care and learning for children in their early years. It underpins all aspects of positive interactions and activities planned for children.
In the interests of the nursery, the children, their families and the individual we give every staff member the opportunity to develop their skills to their maximum and to broaden their knowledge and skills in caring for children. A comprehensive and targeted programme of professional development ensures practitioners are constantly improving their understanding and practice.