If children are to play and learn successfully, they must feel secure and happy in the absence of their parents, knowing that they will return at the end of the session to collect them. Please don’t worry if your child appears to take longer than others to settle - you are more than welcome to stay and join in (depending on Covid-19 regulations in place at the time). Time invested now in helping your child to settle will reap dividends later. The Pre-school has a Settling-in Policy and your child’s key person will discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to help your child settle and enjoy their time at Pre-school.

KEY PERSONS: We will tell you who your child's key person is at the welcome evening for parents. Key person groups are colour coded: Emma/blue; Beth/green, Anna/orange, Alyssa/red and Chloe/yellow and from September a list of key persons and their key children (with photos) is displayed on the playroom noticeboard. The staff team is small and has a regular rota so staff quickly get to know most children, not just their own key children. This makes it much easier if a key person is absent through illness or on a training course.

NAPPIES: Children do not need to be out of nappies in order to start at pre-school. The pre-school is equipped to change children and will work closely with parents when it comes to toilet training.

CLOTHING: Children need to be able to move freely for outdoor physical play and simple comfortable clothes that they can manage themselves will also be helpful when going to the toilet. Mud, paint and glue may end up on clothes so the code is definitely “dress for mess”. Children should be wearing a pre-school sweatshirt or T-shirt which can be purchased from the pre-school office.

USEFUL TIP: Paint and glue can usually be removed by a good soak in cold water, without washing detergent. Then wash in the normal way.

OUTDOOR CLOTHING: We allocate every child with waterproof dungarees and a pair of welly boots which are kept on their peg so they can have easy access to the outdoors at any time. During the colder months, children need to be dressed in a base layer under their clothes and bring a warm and waterproof coat (that can get muddy), a hat and gloves. In the summer, children will still need to wear long sleeved tops and long trousers for forest school sessions to protect them from grazes, ticks and mud.

SUN PROTECTION CREAM: In the warmer months, your child must arrive wearing 8 hour sun protection cream. If your child cannot wear 8 hour cream and is staying all day, please speak to staff so we can make sure sun cream is re-applied, either using our sun cream or cream supplied by you. Your child will also need to bring a sunhat.

BAG OF SPARE CLOTHES: Please supply a small drawstring or fabric bag with two complete sets of spare clothes (clearly labelled with your child’s name), together with nappies and wipes if needed. The bag will be kept at pre-school and returned at the end of each term to be re-filled.

VISITS AND WALKS: The Pre-school maintains a close relationship with the school by regularly using the school grounds for physical play and walks, together with visits to the reception classroom and the main hall to watch plays or assemblies. Consent for this is included in the registration form. You will be informed of any walks or outings away from the school premises (eg, Christmas Tree Festival, blackberry picking) for which an additional consent will be required.

PARENT HELPERS: This is voluntary and enables us to provide the occasional extra pair of hands for activities such as walks or outings to Cooper's Circle, Charmouth Beach or Washingpool Farm. May be you have skills or talents that you are able to share with the children, if so we would love to know.

LATE ARRIVAL AND COLLECTION: Being late can be distressing for children; they can find it difficult to settle into the session and may be upset if a parent is not there to collect them promptly. It is important that children start and leave on a positive note and this will also help them when they start at school. We appreciate there are times when it cannot be avoided but it is persistent lateness that is the concern.

Pre-pandemic we had a one-way system when dropping off and collecting children. At the moment, we are collecting children from parents at the door but, if Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, then please enter by the front door marked “entrance” and leave by the verandah door marked “exit”. Pushchairs should be left outside under the canopy. Babies and toddlers can be carried inside or we can bring your child out to you. This eases the congestion and makes arrivals and departures much easier.

PLAY AND ACTIVITIES: Young children are usually more concerned with the “doing” than the end result so please welcome everything they have built, painted or created. Do not be surprised or disappointed if your child does not bring anything home as he/she will have been busy with other activities and your key person will be happy to share this with you. Please do not worry if your child does not appear to be playing with other children at first. It is usual for children to play alone or alongside others initially and it is often the final year of pre-school when ‘playing with others’ really takes off. There is ‘free flow’ between indoors and outdoors so children can choose where they want to play and when. Children’s free play will be supported with adult-initiated activities, including circle times with singing and stories. A good starting point for talking with your child about pre-school are the photos on Facebook, the digital photo display in the office window or your child's Learning Journey.


This is how we encourage and support positive behaviour

PRAISE: We give verbal feedback to children that shows we value their positive behaviour and acts of kindness, eg, “Eve, that was kind to help Tom with his coat”. There are no stickers as this focuses attention on gaining stickers rather than the positive behaviour. Stickers may be useful for toilet training, alongside other strategies.

POSITIVE REMINDERS are given before a behaviour occurs, e.g., “Remember, wait at the gate” or "Who can show me how to step back safely from the fire square?"

POSITIVE ROLE MODELS are identified and praised using simple language, e.g., “George, good listening.” Staff demonstrate positive, friendly behaviour.

CHANGES: Children are made aware of changes or transitions (e.g., five minutes and then we tidy up). Sand timers or other visual prompts may be used.

CORRECTION: We speak to children at their eye level, without shouting, causing humiliation or using words such as “naughty” or “silly”. Rather than draw attention to it, some behaviour may be ignored unless it is unsafe. A positive role model may be identified or a positive reminder given. If it continues, attention will be gained using the child’s name and simple language will be used to make it clear what he/she should be doing (eg, Sarah, hands down), avoiding negatives such as “don’t hit”. We follow up with positive reinforcement, eg, use gentle hands. Corrections will be followed up as soon as possible with comments which highlight the child’s positive behaviour or attitude.

CONFLICTS between children are resolved by approaching calmly, acknowledging children’s feelings (eg, I can see you are upset), asking each child what the problem is and how they think it should be resolved, then talking it through and helping to put the solution into practice.

SITTING STILL is difficult and uncomfortable for young children and requires coordination, balance and core strength. We do not expect children to sit still for long periods of time and have a range of sensory resources that can help them focus while still moving, eg, fidget toys, Bilibos, wobble cushions.

LOOKING DEEPER: A behaviour can be an indicator that a child is struggling with something and needs our help and support. They may be angry, tired, confused, frustrated, frightened or unable to communicate their feelings any other way.

INVOLVING PARENTS: Key persons may share examples of children’s positive behaviour with parents at the end of the session or during appointments. Concerns about behaviour are shared with parents and incidents are logged to see if a pattern is emerging. A way forward can then be agreed with parents.