Pre-school Parents’ ‘Open Evening’ Talk

Welcome and thank you for taking time to join us this evening at our virtual Preschool Parents’ Open Evening.

Normally you would have come along to preschool to meet us and collect your enrolment pack, transition booklet and your child’s start date .You will already have received a Policy Information booklet and enrolment book (email) which contains some forms, and the information you provide is going to help us to plan play experiences and activities for your children for September. Please email the enrolment book back to We will also accept printed copies.

Please read through and keep the Policy information booklet – information in it should give you a good idea of what happens during the year in preschool, our daily routine and how we support your child’s learning, how snack donations work and policies. The policies are important and should be read please pay close attention to the child protection policy.

Please ensure we have the right name for your child and have spelled it correctly as this will be going on their peg and other labels, so it needs to be right! If any info changes over course of year (medical info, address, mobile number etc) please inform us ASAP.

This open evening is part of our transition process which we have been developing over a number of years. There is a huge emphasis in early years care and education on transition and getting it right for each child.  Successful transition is key to laying a good foundation for preschool and school as well as life, helping children to learn to cope with and adjust to change and in turn build good self-esteem and resilience.

We aim to be child focused in all that we do and it is important to us that your child feels happy and secure when they begin preschool.  You may have lots of questions about how your child is going to feel secure and cared for as well as learning in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and are wondering what preschool is going to look like for the foreseeable future.  Because we are a preschool as opposed to a nursery, we have to be registered with and regulated by our local Social Services Health Trust as well as the Education Authority, both of whom are responsible for issuing guidance for us to follow about keeping children and their families and staff safe. We are following the current guidance which recommends regular handwashing and cleaning of surfaces and equipment, using play equipment which is easily sanitised, dry sand which is not shared between the sessions, children sanitise hands before and after playing with dough which is discarded daily, and restricting entry to our building (ie parents drop off and pick up outside).Cleaning of equipment, both indoor and out, is currently carried out between the morning and afternoon sessions, so we have had to leave a bigger gap between them to allow staff to do this, finishing at 11.30 rather than 11.45, and beginning at 12.45 rather than 12.30.This may change during next year, depending on restrictions and guidance, but we will keep you informed. The room is kept well ventilated and we use our covered outdoor play area as much as possible.  We will be promoting good hygiene with the children through 1:1 and small group activities, stories and rhymes.

We are also acutely aware of the potential effect that this situation is having on everyone’s mental health. For the last few years we have been incorporating mindfulness and relaxation into our curriculum and will be continuing to provide opportunities to help develop children’s wellbeing such as little breaks for movement and breathing and sensory activities, as well as focusing on kindness through small group activities and stories. We recognise the importance of children (and parents) feeling listened to and their concerns and feelings acknowledged. We are continuously updating our Infection Control Policy and will provide you with the latest version in September – this will give details of exactly how we are managing the public health restrictions at this stage. Last September the situation was very fluid, as soon as we received guidance we are acting on it and then could find a few days later it had changed again. Our mutual understanding of the difficulties and challenges faced by each of us will go a long way towards building strong and supportive relationships which are the key to making your child’s preschool experience a positive one.

We start youngest children first, starting off with 6 children and increasing this every few days by an additional 2, so that by mid-September the full group are attending for the full session. On your child’s first day they come for a shorter time and this is increased each following day until by 4th day they are normally staying for full session. This is flexible – we find that some children need to take a little longer to settle in, so might stay for just an hour for a longer period, but we will discuss this with you.

Uniforms – teddy jumpers and navy tracksuit bottoms – teddy jumpers are available from School Days, Newtownards Road .

While uniforms not compulsory we do recommend them for several reasons – sense of belonging, helps build independence with toileting as they can manage themselves. We recommend that any clothing or footwear worn by your child to preschool they should be able to manage by themselves – e.g. Velcro or pull-on shoes – on and off when dressing up, changing into welly boots for mud kitchen etc – being able to do things for themselves is so important in developing their self-esteem, confidence and independence. Please name the jumpers!!When your child starts, please send a change of clothes, especially pants, bottoms and socks, which we will keep on their peg, to avoid sharing of clothing from our supply.

A preschool transition booklet will be posted to you over the summer– please look through this at home with your child and talk about what they will be doing and the staff that will be looking after them – helps them to feel familiar with preschool.

We are carrying out garden visits on Wednesday, 25th August between 9.30 and 12.30, so that your child can meet us in a familiar environment. Really sorry that we can’t reschedule these for another day, but if you yourself unavailable perhaps granny or someone else could be there?

We’re also asking you to give us a photo of your child with their family to display in the room and help them feel at home there – this worked very well this year and children referred to these over the year and talked to staff about family members.

Hopefully you’ve been able to help your child choose a simple picture or piece of clipart which we ask you to email to so we can have their picture label ready for them to find in the cloakroom when they come to preschool.

Our transition days are on Thursday 26th and Tuesday 30th August, just before we start back, when there are 4 sessions, each 45 minutes, with 6 children coming to each session with parents/carers . It will be held in our covered outdoor play area, the children have a chance to look around the room, have a play, meet staff and finish off with a story.  Parents will be also be given information by the leader and an opportunity to ask questions.

Settling in – We are doing 2 things – settling your child into preschool, and also settling and customizing the other 23 children to coming every day of the week to a large group of children.  Getting it right means your child settles well and quickly and feels confident in the new environment. On the first day stay for a short time – arriving at 9.30/1pm so as other children in and settled.  Each successive day time is added to this so that normally by day 4 they are here for the full session. Gives staff time with your child as they have a lot to learn, eg routines for break and labelling their own work. Although it may seem unnecessary if your child has been at playgroup last year, we find this system works well so please bear with us! Finding yourself in a group of 24 children can be overwhelming and we want to accustom the children gradually to being in a large group, this is important particularly for the younger children who perhaps don’t have any experience of playgroup. Transition to pre-school and having a positive start is really important , so we will just take it as it comes, and adjust settling in accordingly depending on your child’s needs.  Please don’t be surprised if your child becomes unsettled after a few days/weeks as this can just be the novelty wearing off – they are now coming every day (instead of a few days as in playgroup) and it is a big change for them. Your child will have a key worker and be in either red, green or yellow group. Flexibility – may need to adjust times if child unsettled.  If you’re anxious about settling in, Fiona, our Financial Administrator and Mindfulness teacher, has some practical information to support you, please look on our website.

Parents’ nights We are keen to promote partnership working between parents and staff, which research has shown makes a huge difference to children’s progress and outcomes. We feel it is important that parents understand the level of children’s learning in preschool, to help keep expectations positive and realistic.  We normally hold several parent evening events over the year in October, November and January to let you know what is going on in preschool, how your child is learning and activities to support learning at home - we will keep you posted about arrangements for this.  We also normally send home book packs with funding we have received through the Getting Ready to Learn initiative by the Education Authority and hold a ‘Stay and Play’ session later in the year when you are invited to come to preschool with your child to have a play and see what goes on. This year we had 2 events on Zoom – our parents’ night in October and a Big Bedtime Read event for parents and children when we read stories and did some mindfulness activities together. To meet funding requirements we are required to collect evaluations from you at the beginning and end of the programme for the Education Authority.

Would also draw your attention to our Additional Needs/Individual learning policy.  Additional Needs covers a wide variety of individual needs from speech and language through behaviour and emotional support. All children learn in different ways and at different rates.  We are here to help support each child’s learning and will work with you, their parent and their first educator, to help them reach their potential – and with your agreement may occasionally access outside support and advice in order to do this, working together in partnership to support your child’s learning. We understand that this can be an emotional subject, however it is so important to identify areas where a little additional support is required early on and put measures in place in order to help each child reach their full potential, without any barriers to learning.  With your permission, we can access support from outside agencies such as Speech Therapy, RISE team and health visitors.

We normally have visitors over the year including optician and others talking about their jobs, farm visit us in Spring and Mr Hullabaloo – drama – visit in May/June, as well as trip to Transport Museum.  Committee organise some fun fundraising events over the year, have had Christmas craft morning, disco, teddy bear’s picnic and more.  Please support and think about joining committee – we couldn’t run without them!

Parental involvement – we welcome parental involvement in a number of ways – helping out on trips, joining our committee, coming in to session to help with activities.  Parents need to be fully vetted first and if you would be interested (and available – flexible) – please ask us for forms in September to be checked out.

We use Seesaw app – 2 – family and class, which you will be invited to download when your child starts.  Seesaw can also be used for you to contact us, but not used to raise any concerns, request a phone call instead. As well as sharing pictures of your child involved in activities in preschool, we intend to use this to share information with you so it’s important that you have in on your phone. Over the year we will use it to remind you about events, closures etc.

Have a look at our website and our Facebook page – we have shared stories, rhymes and songs to join in at home, however are mainly using Seesaw now.

If you haven’t already done so, please return your completed enrolment forms and email us the picture your child has chosen for their peg.

Questions asked by parents on open night 23rd June

Parent asked about class sizes-

We have 24 children attending in the morning and afternoon, staff to child ratio is 1 adult to 8 children.

Parent asked about Seesaw – will playgroup journal continue on in preschool.

Unfortunately not.  Playgroup class will be archived in August, Coordinator will issue instructions on how to download journal. Preschool children will be put into new keyworker groups and parents reissued with QR code for this.