Choosing a good pre-school which is right for your child is important. One great way of finding out more about local pre-schools is through other parent’s first-hand experiences.
Today local Mum Ruth Mulenga reviews Christ Church Clifton Pre-school, a pre-school for children aged 2.5 – 4 which is open Monday to Friday.
What made you choose this pre-school for your child?
We chose Christ Church Pre-school as it was close to where we live, within easy walking distance, and provided affordable childcare which fitted in with our schedule.
As a teacher I didn’t want to sign up for childcare where we had to continue to pay during the school holidays. We liked the fact that it was mornings only which gave younger children the chance to still have their afternoon naps if needed.
How did staff manage your child’s settling-in process?
We were offered the opportunity to attend a settling-in session in the term before our child started. During this session, parents stayed and filled in paperwork whilst the children were able to play for an hour or so. This also gave us the chance to meet other children and their parents.
Before our child started, pre-school staff paid us a home visit where again we filled out ‘getting to know you’ paperwork so the pre-school could learn more about our child to help them facilitate their settling-in. Our son had a favourite lion toy and his picture for his coat hook on arrival was a lion.
When starting pre-school, the children initially attend for one hour with parents staying with them. In the next session, the children attend for one hour again but this time with the parents leaving them.
Once the child is settled they can then start their scheduled hours full time. At the beginning of the term this process may be stage
d over a few weeks to allow the new intake to settle-in in stages.
Our son started before he was three and started only 2 mornings a week. Once he was three he started doing 5 mornings a week including lunch club. He was lucky enough to spend 2 years at pre-school and in his final year he also did the full day on Monday. We felt that this was a good staging process for him and he has definitely been well prepared for starting reception.
Our daughter has just turned three and started this term. We felt she was much more ready socially for pre-school and have signed her up for all available sessions.
Both my son and my daughter settled quickly and were often first in the door with barely a look behind them to say good bye!
What do you like best about this pre-school?
The staff are great – very friendly and helpful. They enjoy interacting with the children and love their jobs.
It has been a great place for our children to learn to socialise without parental supervision – a natural progression from the parent-toddler groups we had been attending.
I think our favourite part of pre-school has been the Forest School Camping weekend the pre-school has organised. Pre-school families have the opportunity to spend a weekend camping at Viney Hill Adventure Centre in the Forest of Dean during summer term. It is a great weekend and allows you to spend a weekend camping and enjoy the company of your children and a great chance to meet other families.
The Forest School weekend is a follow on to the weekly Forest School sessions the pre-school offers. Each week the children are taken out to a secure woodland area and participate in Forest School activities by trained Forest School leaders.
The pre-school provides the wet-weather gear for this which is great (though parents provide the wellies). My son loved the chance to play in the great outdoors. There is a fantastic balance between free play and structured activities.
His highlights were: bridge building; vine swinging; muddy puddles; building earwig homes. He also enjoyed the chance to practice using a hand-saw; hand-drill and fire construction. The hot chocolate was also a winner during the winter months!
What do you like least?
At the start it was a bit hard to make friends as I only took my son in 2 mornings a week (as my Mum took him in the other three mornings). This made it a bit intimidating as many people seemed to already know each other. However as time wore on I took the opportunity to chat more to other people and build relationships.
Social activities like the Saturday Morning Forest School Introductory session and the Forest School Camping weekend definitely helped. There is also a Friday Morning coffee but I wasn’t able to attend as I worked.
What kind of activities are there?
As mentioned there is a weekly Forest School which is fantastic.
The pre-school has many different play areas: Malleable area (play-dough); Crafts (painting, cut & sticking); Home Corner; Construction (various building blocks); Cars; Books etc.
There is also an outside area which the children have the opportunity to play in. Sometimes they do gardening.
There is also bigger rooms which are used for more physical play: scooter, tricycles etc; ball games and other games.
The pre-school often has themes chosen from children’s interests. For example when some of the children were interested in space and science, this was a theme for a term. Our son then brought home fantastic marble run planets and various rockets. The children got the chance to investigate vinegar, bicarbonate and red cabbage indicator; giant bubbles; ice and snow.
The pre-school is always happy for parents and carers to visit and share interests. My husband visited and ran a football session; other parents have run drum sessions; Medic and St Patrick’s Day; making rice balls. During the solar eclipse, one of the father’s made a telescope to view the eclipse safely.
Every day there is a snack time where the children sit together and share a snack. There is also the opportunity to attend lunch club three days a week.
The pre-school also has two iPads which the children are able to use. Children are allowed to access suitable games and are limited to 5 or 10 minutes a day. However there are some days where the iPads are not even requested by the children!
On Fridays, there is tea and coffee and juice and biscuits for the parents and children. There is also the opportunity for parents and carers to stay on and socialise and the chance to discuss and share any concerns. I was unable to do this whilst my son was at school due to work commitments but am looking forward to being able to take part this year.
What do you think of the staff?
As mentioned before the staff are great – friendly, helpful and very caring towards the children. Each child has a key worker and there are regular opportunities to meet with your child’s key worker and share their learning portfolio and discuss their progress against the EYFS curriculum.
How has your child has benefited from this pre-school?
Our son really enjoyed the opportunity to develop friendships and the chance to play and socialise with his contemporaries. He has developed his confidence and ability to play well with others. Our main objective was to allow him to develop socially away from parental supervision. He has developed a lot of social skills and built good relationships which he has been able to carry on into reception.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
No. Our son loved his time at Christ Church and definitely flourished and has been well prepared to start Reception with confidence. Our daughter has also enjoyed being able to start at the pre-school – she’s been itching to go after accompanying her brother for drop-off for 2 years.
To find out more about Christ Church Clifton Pre-school please visit http://www.christchurchcliftonpreschool.org.uk/
Please contact Christ Church Clifton Pre-school via its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Christ-Church-Clifton-Pre-School