Updated: Aug 2, 2021
It's been just over a year since we reopened to all our families following the first Covid-19 lockdown. Last summer we were as determined as ever to make every moment count, working with Fall Into Place Theatre on making Mini Play Boxes for families across our community and supporting Leeds Dad's DADSTASTIC Day. Our community ran a crowdfunder to begin exploring new ambitious partnerships and update our play resources. After all, every moment of play can help our children develop wrist and shoulder stability, good elbow and forearm rotation that are the foundation of the fine motor skills needed for handwriting and starting school.
We have chalkboards on hand in our playground to never miss an opportunity to practice mark making and even letter formation but our children find their own opportunities to express themselves! Our children's artwork and creativity are huge sources of pride for the nursery ... In fact, we are in the process of setting up our second public and online exhibition of their work, alongside artists around the world in our creative call-out supported by Curatorspace!
We have lost a much-loved tree and our decades-old train this year... but right now we are delighted to be seeing the results of a year of talking and planning coming to fruition. Despite the rising costs of timber, we have had brilliant partners with environmental charity Hyde Park Source, as well as committed funders - Jimi Heselden's "Jimbos Fund" and Wades Charity - to remodel our outdoor play area with a renewed focus on open-ended play. We have also been supported by Moto's charity and Arnold Clark to be even more ambitious in our outdoors plans such as investing in new equipment for our little gardeners.
During the nursery day, we have had visits from people in our community passionate about play and creativity from Rasta Claus's Christmas visit to Jonathan Turner, changing our nursery into a photography studio (complete with a darkroom) with support from Leeds Inspired. We have also been excited to get moving with Rachel Dean from Harehills Music and Movement and have planned Carnival Dance sessions with the ceaselessly energetic Tricia Arthur-Stubbs, who many of our families know from RJC Dance's children's sessions. In the Autumn we will be working with musician, James Banner, on commissioned workshops from the Northern Composers Network.
We have also developed partnerships to ensure the play continues after the nursery day finishes, including developing our indoors spaces for playful community use such as children's birthday parties with support from our local Housing Advisory Panel. We have also been able to build a little library with local parents and councillors, distributing chalk packs with Playful Leeds and Boxes of Play from Seagulls Paint and the Henry Smith Foundation.
As the nursery term ends we have taken a fresh look at things we have always done - instead of working with a photography firm, we have partnered with another photographer in our community, Jemma Mickleburgh, to capture our graduating children in a unique and playful light.
We have run Play Training for our staff with Ruth Matthews of Make My Play, with a view to rethinking our curriculum ahead of the new Early Years Foundation Stage. This will shape our practice as a nursery where we celebrate how every child is unique: learning to be strong and independent through positive relationships, enabling environments with a strong partnership between practitioners and parents plus a strong focus on learning and development.
This is only some of the work we have undertaken in the last year in addition to day to day operations... All this would not be possible without the commitment of our community including parents, trustees, staff members and volunteers - sharing ideas, letting us know when we get things right and where to make changes, finding new opportunities and ways to work together to meet needs that are not met elsewhere. We can't wait to see what we achieve in 2022!
If you like the sound of our work this year we want you to know that we welcome new trustees, volunteers and both individuals and organisations to partner with. Please get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0113 237 4696.