Frequently Asked Questions about our Nursery and Early Years Provision

Family Workers plan for children’s development and learning on a daily basis using their personal and professional knowledge of individual children, alongside daily observations, to inform the planning for the following day or session when the child will next attend. Information from home is also used to plan meaningful experiences for children in the setting. For some children it is really important that they have time to re-visit experiences and have the opportunity to explore, experiment and discover giving the child the chance to assimilate and accommodate their prior learning. Planning is not about next steps and moving children on, but more about close observation and reflection on what the child is curious about and what they want to learn. Through the use of schema theory Family Workers are able to plan meaningful opportunities for children based on what a child is intrinsically motivated to do at home and in the setting.

Supporting children’s learning and development requires careful consideration of the child’s interests and what they have been doing when they have been deeply involved. There are often many possible experiences through which children could develop their learning through play.

At Pen Green we record these possibilities on a PLOD or Possible lines of Development sheet. Parents and workers and children contribute to the ideas and these are recorded to enable different experiences to be offered. The PLOD is a working planning document and is added to and annotated as time passes and parents and workers have noticed what has turned out to be significant for the child and has led to further developments.

In nursery every child has a family worker (also known as a key worker). Each family worker has up to 13 children in their group. The legal ratio for this age group is 1:13.

In our early years provision ratios are 1:4 (2 years), 1:3 (1 year and over).

The term Family Worker is a description of a worker, in nursery, who sees and works with each child, not as an individual, but as part of a family. The group of children that the Family Worker is responsible for is called a ‘Family Group’. The ‘Family Group’ is comprised of children across the age range and, therefore, more accurately reflects a family.

Family Workers observe children in many different ways mainly through narrative and snap-shot observations. We also use photographs and video recording to support our documentation of children’s development and learning. This way of capturing children’s development and learning also helps Family Workers and parents to reflect on what a child or small group of children have been doing and what their current interests might be. Family Workers make time to engage in daily dialogue with parents, grandparents and carers as this gives Family Workers the opportunity to find out more about what the child is currently interested in doing at home.

Information from home is used to plan for children in the setting and forms part of the child’s development and learning journal (Celebration of My Achievements file).

Knowing children well involves getting to know them in their home environment, which is why home visits are so important. Children remember a home visit for many months, if not years. Home visits can play a really important part in forging relationships with families and providing a space for parents to discuss a whole range of different issues in the safety of their own home.

Every child will be visited at home prior to their start in nursery. This gives the family worker an opportunity to meet the family and acquire important information about the child such as their siblings, pets, interests, allergies and ways to comfort the child when s/he is upset. Families received a home visit pack with information about nursery as well as additional services we can offer them.

We believe that children are naturally curious about the world around them. Our nursery is a place where all children can follow their interests and lead their own learning. Staff will observe children closely, intervene when appropriate, and plan for future play possibilities.

The nursery is set up in workshop areas with resources at child height. Independently accessing resources allows children to become effective decision makers, enhancing their play and learning experiences. These opportunities are planned and based on children’s schematic interests and curiosities at nursery and home.

Children are based in one nursery (Den, Snug, Studio) but are able to move between each provision, accessing all of the available resources. Should they choose, children can also go outside in all weathers.

Our staff is made up of nursery practitioners, including family workers, leadership and support staff. 70% of these practitioners are graduates with a BA or higher (or an international equivalent). Each room has a teacher and early years professional who support the team with planning. All workers at Pen Green have a Level 3 qualification minimum.

In the setting all staff work closely with the important adults in a child’s life. Daily dialogue with parents forms part of the settings routine. Staff want to know how the child has been at home and to learn as much as possible about what the child is interested in. For some parents have an opportunity to have an informal discussion about their child on a regular basis is important. For other parents it is more beneficial to have time in their own home to talk about their child. Staff are mindful that fathers and extended family play a significant role in children’s lives and try hard to engage them in dialogue as they can give a different perspective on the child.   There is no one size fits all, therefore staff have to find alternative ways to engage with all parents. We believe that all parents will engage in their own way in their own time.

Family Workers in the setting use a secure on-line journal app to document children’s experiences in the setting. This information is shared with parents and other significant adults in the child’s life for example grandparents, aunties and uncles. This information can be sent to parents immediately, almost allowing parents to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in the setting.   It can also be used for children to re-visit and share their learning at home and in the setting. All parents are encouraged to sign up to the app and share information and learning from home as well as commenting on the information that has been shared by Family Workers. When there is a reciprocal exchange of information from home to setting and from the setting to home, children will experience continuity and a consistent approach to their development and learning.

All information regarding funding and entitlement can be accessed here.  If you would like help with the process of finding which funding you may be entitled to and the application process, please contact Sandra Mole.