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When your child starts at nursery, you want to know that their needs and welfare are paramount to the staff you are leaving them with. We believe that children come first, and we clearly promote this as part of our ethos, starting with staff recruitment. Our philosophy is to help all children feel settled and happy within our nursery, as these feelings are essential for a child of any age to develop positive self image, and to learn how to learn in a fun and supported manner. Each child will have a Key Carer, who will build a close and caring relationship with you and your child. Although we can never replace parents, we aim to be familiar, warm and caring people who your child will feel confident in being with.
To give you a very brief history of the Lilliput Montessori family of nurseries, it all began back in 1994 when Sam and Paul opened the Anstey nursery. The success here led to nursery number 2 opening in Glenfield in 1997; Coalville in 1999; Whetstone in 2000; and last (to date!) Leicester Forest East in 2007.
As of May 2019, we are proud to announce that Lilliput Montessori has become an Employee Owned Company, only the second nursery group ever in the United Kingdom!!
What that means is that a significant part of the business is owned by a Trust on behalf of the employees, the remainder is held by Sam and Paul as the Founders of the business. The Trust has a Board which is made up of several employees, two independents and the Founders. The day to the day running has not changed, we all still have the same responsibilities, and the business will always concentrate on keeping the Montessori ethos and the holistic wellbeing and education of the children at it's heart.
As a group, we like to keep ourselves abreast of new and revised thinking relating to childcare. We are currently all working towards a Healthy Tots accreditation. Healthy Tots status is about creating a culture and environment that promotes health and well-being. It focuses on, healthy eating, emotional health well-being and physical activity. We are proud to say that our nurseries in Anstey and Whetstone have been accredited and that the others are working towards completing theirs within the next 12 months.
We believe in giving the children choice in their activities, and we plan the environment looking at the children's likes, interests, and opportunities for learning
that we hope they will enjoy. We use many natural and open-ended objects in our Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play sessions, which enable the children to
explore and experiment without any pressure, and find out for themselves what objects can do (Epistemic Play) and what objects can be (Ludic Play).
Many of our Montessori materials, used by children over 2 years, are designed so that they are self-correcting. This enables the children to deduce and work out the answer for themselves through trial and error, all of which are key characteristics of learning. Staff are always on hand to help, but intervening too quickly can switch the child off to the activity, something we do not wish to do.
Our planning, observing and recording of children successes and progress is maintained following the guidance from Ofsted and the Early Years Foundation Stage. As part of this, we will keep information on your child's progress in an electronic journal called Tapestry. Each parent will have their own secure login, and we encourage parents to post updates and photo's of your child's acheivements to share with us. You will be able to print pages off if should wish, or backup onto a hard drive.
Nursery is often the first experience your child will have of care outside the home and/or immediate family.
We want your child to feel loved, welcome and secure in our environment, and the first step in developing
these secure foundations is to assign a key-carer for your child who will be your primary daily contact.
(If your child happens to develop a closer relationship with another member of staff this can be changed).
Wherever possible we try to ensure that when children move from one group room to another, one of the
key-carers will move with them to ease their transition.
Your child will have lots of mutli-sensory experiences; rhyming sounds and songs, musical instruments, pots and pans and objects to bang, puppets and soft toys, a range of different fabrics, real life/ natural objects in Treasure Baskets, and plenty of opportunities to build, disassemble, and reassemble. They will also experience hands in and on lots of sensory media such as cornflour and water, coloured water, sand, pebbles, leaves etc etc. What we actually do with these objects and media changes as your child grows and develops.
The Early Years Foundation Stage has seven areas: 3 Prime and 4 Specific. The Prime areas are: Language and Communication; Personal, Social and Emotional; and Physical. These are the areas we will concentrate on first in a child under 3 years old. For a child of 3 and over, the Specific areas are: Literacy, Maths, Knowledge of the World, Art and Design. If a child is developing significantly in one of these areas prior to 3 years, we will include this in their reports.
For Language development, we follow two sets of guidance. The Every Child A Talker (ECAT) is a national scheme which has been adopted by Leicestershire County Council, and concentrates on building early skills. This means that your child will learn to clap in rhythm, repeat sounds and words, and experiment with sounds prior to any introduction to writing.
When children are showing interest and understanding in “mark making” (making their own representative pre-writing marks), we develop their skills following the DfES guidance for Early Years Settings and Schools, called Letters and Sounds. This extensive guide covers children up to Key Stage 2, progressing through 6 levels. The vast majority of the children in our settings will be working in stage 2 by the time they go to school.
Our staff are trained in delivering this programme, and have the support of our Early Years Teachers, Sam Graveling and Keighley Gardner. Sam is also a Montessori Qualified Teacher, and trains the staff in using these materials to support their learning. Hayley Jacques, the Manager at our Leicester Forest East nursery is also a qualified Montessori Teacher, and we have several more staff taking their Montessori qualification. Montessori has a very strong emphasis on learning sounds and letters through phonics, which is mirrored in the Letters and Sounds guide. We use a series of activities and resources which can also be used at home, and we are more than happy to share website addresses, and ideas for use at home either personally or via our Facebook page.
It is vitally important that your child has a good grasp of the foundation levels of this process in order to develop securely at the higher levels. Consequently our focus is on ensuring that your child does not “fast-track” through these essential aspects, missing out important stages, and that your child receives the esteem building recognition of these attainments. However, this does not mean that we will hold back a child who shows a particular interest and skill in this, or any other area.
To quote DfES, “Children should have multi-sensory experiences when developing their mark making, and should not experience more than 20 minutes of formal learning a day”. As professionals we are extremely aware of the damage that can be done by pushing a child into learning, typically into reading and writing before they are ready. Summer-born boys are particularly at risk as they may be the youngest in the class, and boys generally desire more physicality in their learning. This is why we have a word-rich environment surrounding the children, and plenty of opportunities for them to “mark-make” (the first lines and circles which children use to represent letters) not only within their role-play, but also in the environment as a whole. Using sticks to write in mud, chalks on slabs, magnetic letters on boards, is showing the same understanding and skill as using pen and paper, it is also more fun and therefore more likely to be repeated!
We will ensure that children have experiences and support from us at nursery, to enable them to be as independent as possible, and have developed a good level of self-confidence before they start school. In a Reception class, children are expected to be able to take themselves to the bathroom, dress themselves, sit down at circle time, be able to listen and take part in Registration. They are expected to take turns, and share appropriately. Their days will be spent learning about language, written and spoken, maths and science, and this will be done using different media as well as pen and paper. Everything we do at nursery is preparing your child for the transition to this bigger, busier environment where they have to be much more self-reliant.