North Bridge House Nursery & Pre-prep discusses its approach of widening children’s experience while providing a strong learning foundation

Department of Work & Pensions records show that 76% of mothers now return to work within 12 to 18 months of having a child, with day nurseries remaining the most popular childcare for under threes While cutting the umbilical cord and enrolling your little one can still be a tough decision – fraught with guilt if tears are involved – the benefits are clear. Aside from the security of a daily routine, spending time in a play and learning environment helps children’s academic readiness. “A nursery or preschool environment provides structure and routine for young children, while building the social, pre-academic, and general life skills that prepare them for ‘big school’,” says Eilish Sleator, Head of School at North Bridge House Nursery & Pre-Prep in West Hampstead.

So how do you choose the best nursery for your child when there is a wealth of day care providers? The difference between settings often lies in how the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is delivered. EYFS providers are not bound by the same staff to child ratios. For example, for children aged 3+ years in a private nursery or preschool, the typical staff to child ratio is 1:8. At North Bridge House, the ratio at Nursery (age 2+) is 1:4 and in the pre-Reception (3+) class, it is 1:6. The team say this enables individualised teaching and learning and helps children thrive. NBH has also adopted a ‘mastery’ approach. This means that pupils master key concepts before moving on to the next topic. Individualised support gives children time to grasp an idea and gain deeper understanding.

North Bridge House on early learning benefits
It’s the whole nursery experience that is so vital for young children’s development, says North Bridge House Nursery & Pre-Prep

Alongside academic development, it’s important to consider the whole nursery experience, as non-cognitive skills are just as essential to a child’s growth and wellbeing. It’s important to view nursery as your child’s opportunity to interact and empathise with others, express feelings and opinions, and discover more about life outside the family unit – also developing key social and communication skills and self-confidence.

“Again, this comes down to what the preschool or nursery offers above and beyond the EYFS” says Eilish Sleator. “While this framework is designed to ensure a child’s personal development as well as academic progress, at North Bridge House Nursery, we look to provide as much opportunity as possible to spark curiosity outside of the formal curriculum.”

Specialist subjects are offered from the outset, with Italian, drama, music and dance, delivered on a weekly basis in the Nursery. In the 3+ Pre-Reception class, children also benefit from twice weekly French lessons and bi-weekly Forest School, providing opportunities to develop their cultural literacy, understanding of the world and affinity with nature.

“At this age, we do not offer specialist subjects with the aim of developing the next Mozart or Ginger Rogers. Yes, it would be a wonderful bonus to see a child discover such overwhelming talent, but our primary aim is to provide breadth and depth to the earliest years of education, to inspire that lifelong love of learning, and to equip our little ones with the confidence and resilience to thrive in everything they do,” says Eilish Sleator.

“There is no doubt that starting nursery will benefit your child’s development, whilst helping to alleviate some of the pressure that comes with being a parent too,” she adds. “While factors such as location and ease of access will play a significant part in the decision-making process, when choosing a nursery for your little one I would always recommend finding out about how they will be supported and developed as an individual, and what the nursery or preschool can offer to provide an even wider learning experience than the EYFS framework.”

North Bridge House Nursery & Pre-Prep

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