By UK Family & Lifestyle Blogger To Become Mum
Sending your child off to nursery can be quite daunting the first time around and I fully admit to sobbing as I left Ethan on his first day – but I needn’t have worried as he settled in quickly and had such a lovely time there, which made every drop off after that little bit easier.
I think when you’re looking at nurseries, one of the biggest things you want to know is what will your baby do all day. Who will look after them? What will they eat? What routine will they have? How will you know how they are doing?
I went along to visit Norfolk House Nursery on Norfolk Road – there is a second Edgbaston nursery in their group, on Harborne Road – to take a good look around and see what they have to offer little ones. I used to work just around the corner and was excited to see inside the beautiful building.
So, what is a typical day like at Norfolk House Nursery?
The first thing that strikes you as you come through the door is how warm and welcoming Norfolk House is. The staff are friendly, the decor is bright and there is a real sense of it being a home away from home in the way each room had been designed.
From the moment a child starts at the nursery, they will build a special relationship with the staff, particularly their key worker who is ultimately chosen according to who that child forms a bond with in those early settling in sessions and first days.
Each child is treated as an individual and their needs understood, whilst a gentle framework exists so that they can learn how to interact and socialise in a mindful manner. I was told by the nursery team that from babies through to preschool, they learn about being kind, being a good listener etc. There is also a health visitor who regularly visits the nursery, which provides another layer of support.
Further structure comes in as the child gets older, particularly in the preschool, as you would expect for getting children ready for their school days. Children in this group will have a good grasp of numbers, can form three letter words and will be used to having more of a schedule to stick to during the day, which will certainly stand them in good stead.
There is a huge range of toys and play equipment in every room, thoughtfully chosen and grouped together, so that children can have free choice of what they would like to play with, and be stimulated at every opportunity. Colour, texture and variety are all present and it’s clear that every day would be fun and different to the next. There’s even a large interactive television in preschool.
In every room, I saw children enjoying play together in groups and as individuals, and they looked incredibly happy and content.
The kids get to enjoy the big, beautiful and well designed garden twice a day, getting them active and into the fresh air. There’s artificial turf for playing, a tree bark path, four large play areas – two with sand, two as ball pits – then vegetable patches, mud kitchens… and another garden further back. With a lovely large tree at the centre, it is such a lovely space to let your imagination run free.
All requirements are of course catered for and again, variety is paramount. The nursery has worked with a nutritionist to ensure all meals delivered by the in-house chef are balanced and parents can have input into the menu too, with details published in advance.
Meal times form some of the routine and the children are certainly well fed; I saw the snack time food being delivered and wanted to pinch some for myself!
Every step of the way, parents are involved. There is the chance to engage with the nursery through feedback forms, quarterly questionnaires and there’s even parent representatives as well as open forums so anyone who wants to find out more, ask questions or make suggestions in the direction and development of the nursery, the door is open.
What I was really impressed with was the level of communication between the nursery and parents. From a daily diary handed from key worker to parent and back again the next morning, with notes, observations and updates, to emailed newsletters and monthly homework suggestions, to help parents support their child’s learning from home, the nursery works hard to make parents feel included, as much as they want to be.
I was also surprised to learn that they offer extended hours, beyond other nurseries I have been to, of opening at 7am and closing at 7pm – and there isn’t an extra cost for this extra time, if you opt for a full day. With prices being on a par with other nurseries in the area and beyond, this is another attractive attribute that could make all the difference.
This partnership approach makes Norfolk House stand out – between parents and with the children too – and the way that they seem to understand children but also the needs of working parents certainly think this creates the perfect environment for care and development.