The owner of a leading private nursery has stressed the importance of preschool learning for children’s development.
Carolyn Nicholson, herself a qualified and experienced teacher, runs Victoria House Nursery in Douglas.
As the schools go back this week, it will be the first time that no children in the reception class intake will have come from a state-run nursery attached to a school.
That follows the decision last year by the Department of Education and Children to cut the service, which was available in 11 of the Island’s schools.
Carolyn said: ‘There will be a cohort of children that are going to school for the first time this September, having not had any prior nursery experience. It is going to be difficult for the children, parents and teachers alike.
‘All current research – including the Nutbrown review of early education and childcare – recognises the importance of early years education and the benefits of a start in preschool.
‘The early years are vital in the development of a child’s prospects and can have a huge impact on the way a child develops personally, socially and cognitively.’
Victoria House Nursery is based in Victoria Road, Douglas, close to the site of the demolished former prison.
There are 52 children registered with the nursery and 15 staff – including four qualified early years teachers led by Carolyn and Sue Kapur, who is head of education and planning.
New on the planning curriculum this academic year is the woodland learning scheme, initiated by Sue and similar to the successful Forest Schools programme that focuses on outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.
The nursery has a baby wing and caters for children up to school age.
It incorporates a preschool curriculum meeting the needs of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
It is nine years since Carolyn achieved her lifetime ambition by opening the nursery. In 2005 it started with 12 children and six members of staff.
‘Our aim is to deliver top class education in a caring environment, equipping children with inherent personal, social and cognitive development,’ said Carolyn.
Physical development is a key part of the programme at Victoria House and there are daily activities including dance and drama. Guitar tutor John Gregory also pays a visit once a week to lead a singalong!
A large field within the nursery grounds means that there is plenty of space for outdoor activities for the children.
In 2011 the nursery achieved the prestigious Step Into Quality award, linked to Lancashire Education Authority.
The same year it was nominated in the customer service category of Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence and is now undergoing the full Manx Quality Award scheme – the only private nursery in the island to do so.