From the moment they enter an early years setting toddlers and preschoolers start spending more and more active time in the nursery than at home every day. From the routine they had in their home environment they slowly adapt to the nursery routine, in a new setting with new adults and children around. 

What to look for? How to shorten the list of options?

We are all aware of the fact that children thrive when they feel safe and secure and when they are supported to form positive relationships with the people around them. Only then, real learning starts happening.

When choosing a nursery for your little one, definitely the main criteria to consider are: high standards in terms of health and safety,  a strong culture of positive relationships amongst the entire community and a broad and balanced curriculum.

How do you recognise safety in an educational environment?

During your first visit to a nursery site you can look for: medical staff and the attitude of children towards them, the interest of the institution for safeguarding and child protection, children-teachers ratio in the classrooms or the menus. Later on, you can ask for information about how the curriculum supports the children’s awareness and learning on health and safety matters.

The student experience in Avenor Nursery is quite a pleasant journey in terms of safety. Every morning the child  enters our setting, says “Good morning” to the security guard, then goes to meet the nurse who’s checking on children every morning in the lobby and, why not, have a friendly chat with her. After changing shoes and saying “Goodbye!” to mum and dad, he goes to the classroom, always accompanied by a teacher, according to the principle of “never alone” children in the campus. Then, a whole world of curiosity and discovery opens every day, ensuring children a sense of freedom and comfort, while through all the procedures for safety we continue to discreetly protect them: age-appropriate resources, teacher-children ratio in the classroom and risk assessments. The curriculum is present everywhere through the adults around the children: in the lunchroom, at the toilet, on the stairs, outdoors and in the classroom, while addressing topics like healthy food, fire drills, germs and playing safely etc.

Meanwhile the parents, every morning, follow their children’s journey by consulting the daily menu, using the opportunity to interact directly with the medical staff, leaders of the team and teachers or even express written concerns in a special box at the entrance of the building where they always find information about the Designated Safeguarding staff members. 

Parents are reliable partners in ensuring safety of the entire community, by following the Parents Guide, respecting our procedures and offering constant feedback.

What does nursery well-being look like?

Given the fact that meaningful learning takes place after children feel emotionally and relationally comfortable in the nursery, cultivating positive relationships is crucial to their progress and development.

The way in which children interact between themselves, the communication between parents and teachers, as well as the conversations that teachers have with children can give you a feel of the quality of the relationships in a nursery setting. You can also look at the approach that the nursery school has in terms of behaviour management, the opportunities provided for promoting staff wellbeing, together with events that bring parents closer to the school such as parenting workshops, themed days or open classroom sessions.

At Avenor Nursery we understand that mornings are essential for welcoming children and helping them start a new day with a smile on their faces and at the same time for checking in with the parents and talking about any information that is relevant for the day. Afternoons are for feedback and therefore contribute to the constant flow of professional, transparent and trustworthy communication between teachers and parents. The Avenor teaching team takes part in team support sessions, can access whole-school well-being initiatives and professional learning and development training, actions which contribute to both their personal and professional growth process. Last, but not least, the ‘School from Home’ programme welcomes parents for conversations on different parenting aspects that they find useful and connects the dots between home and nursery in terms of dealing with stage-related behaviours. 

What is the impact of a broad and balanced curriculum?

Because early years is the fundamental stage for the future learner, we recommend choosing a broad curriculum that stimulates and explores multiple directions, while maintaining an appropriate balance through the focus on the prime areas of development which will ensure the basic competences for any further curriculum that the child will follow later on. 

In Avenor we’ve explored the potential of such a curriculum throughout the years. Now Avenor Nursery has developed its own curriculum based on the British Early Years Foundation Stage set of standards which promotes learning through playing and exploring. We have designed learning modules that promote inquiry, having in mind the impact on thinking:  children develop awareness and understanding about concepts related to the past, the world around them and are challenged to think about the future through making predictions and designing from their imagination.  The continuous provision in the areas of learning promote hands-on experiences meaning that through using/manipulating those resources children are learning actively, they are collaborating, asking questions or developing and testing new ideas. 

English language development is another key aspect with a strong long-term impact on learning. From singing rhymes and acting stories with our toddlers to guided reading and writing sessions with Year One, children make visible progress and take pride in their achievement. Moreover, a child’s vocabulary is carefully developed through the other areas of learning. For example in a maths area or activity children acquires new specific vocabulary and understands concepts such as patterns, shapes, more or less/ comparison, whereas in a science-related activity they will learn to name various specific tools and understand transferable concepts such as observation, prediction or causation; all these are carefully planned to happen in a logical age-appropriate manner, in order to ensure that each child makes progress.

The impact of a curriculum is visible even from the beginning of the learning journey if you look at the child’s real life contexts: the way he activates the concepts learned or how he makes connections, or even just the attitude in front of new situations. In Avenor Nursery we value the relevance of learning in the real world and we support the curriculum through a co-curricular framework designed to offer an even broader perspective and more diverse  opportunities. The variety of club sessions ensure choice, while encouraging the pursuit of personal interests. The learning outside the classroom framework includes exposure to the real world through trips, external visitors, spending time and learning in nature.

All of the above are key points at Avenor Nursery and are sustained by policies and practices that are based on the values, expectations and procedures of British education.

Avenor Nursery is a British School Overseas accredited Nursery meaning that it has been inspected and received the outstanding judgement by the British Government and the inspection process is quality assured by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).