At Kidzrus our ethos is ‘Every Child – Every Chance!’ and we take great pride in the way that we embed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion into our daily practice; in the recruitment and training of our teams as well as in our cohort admissions and service provisions.
The way that we support the Personal, Social and Emotional Development of our children across the Kidzrus is quite simple; we focus on being KIND:
K is for Kidzrus
I is for Inclusion
N is for Nurturing
D is for Diversity.
Using child-initiated play, adult guided conversation or adult led activities our children are afforded a wide range of experiences. These include discussion using various resources including books, puppets, mood spoons, mood stars and persona dolls to encourage them to recognise and celebrate their similarities and differences, their families, welcoming a new baby, different feelings, moods and emotions, positive and negative behaviours and the words that they use.
Our parents and carers, like us, noted that there was a regression in emotional behaviour and wellbeing, and this was partly due to being separated from significant family members and support mechanisms within the community during covid 19 and successive lockdowns. Our children were unable to visit grandparents or go to their regular enrichment classes such as swimming. In response to conversations with our parents and carers and our children the Kidzrus The Lodge Pre School team introduced a Wellbeing Hub. This has proved to be extremely beneficial in stretching and challenging our children so that they may grow and progress in their Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Post covid 19 and successive lockdowns also saw a regression in listening and attention, communication and talking, concentration and focus, patience and tolerance as well as sharing and turn taking. It has been a challenging period supporting our cohort children to settle into their new lives at nursery, in transitioning internally from room to room and in making the massive leap from Pre-School to ‘Big School’.
The intention of the Wellbeing Hub is to encourage the development and regulation of our children’s emotions, so that they can express their feelings, resolve problems, and form positive relationships with each other. We know that we are on the right track as Kidzrus The Lodge has been finalist in the 20th NMT Nursery Indoor Learning Environment Awards in November 2022.
One of the main factors in the success of our work has been the introduction of Milly and Miles resources as they allow our team members to engage with our children whilst they play. They are used with the specific intention to support their listening and attention skills, language and communication skills, negotiation and turn taking as well as regulating their emotional intelligence. These skills are transferrable and will stand the children in good stead as they progress on their individual and diverse learning journeys.
The Milly and Miles resources that were skilfully created by Mandy Monk, Alison Rogerson and Anne Williamson have proven to be adaptable and are implemented in a variety of ways; as standalone items as well as alongside others and are having a great impact, not just on their PSED but also other areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Practitioners introduced the characters by asking the children “Who would like to be a friend and help Milly and Miles?” They are invited to guess their names and ages and suggest what they think the characters would enjoy playing with. They then support progressing to the more thought-provoking questions that incorporate safety in the nursery, sharing room rules and turn taking to help Milly and Miles settle into nursery life.
Our colleagues incorporate the resources and embed them into daily routines indoors and outdoors as they promote inclusive practice in focused activities that have a positive approach to sustain many learning intentions. They are used to support our children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and those children that speak English as an additional language. They have enabled us to interact with our children and minimise concerns regarding different aspects of individual children’s development such as delayed speech, communication, interaction with their peers and promote progression; thereby indirectly minimising the need for third party interventions. In short, they have been able to break down substantial barriers. For example, the feelings fan and Milly and Miles visual prompts are used alongside existing resources daily on arrival at sessions and for self-registration as the children talk about how they are feeling and why together freely. The egg timer is used to give children appropriate thinking time so that they may consider solutions to whatever is concerning them in the ‘here and now’. One of their favourite ‘go to’ key texts is the Milly and Miles interactive storybook – they willingly sit on the mat at circle time and listen intently when it is read. We talk about routines, rules, expectations by using the puppets as role models and this is paying dividends.
In conversations with Kelly, Pre School Leader and during play, our children have made many comments that confirm learning has taken place and that they are developing personally, socially and emotionally. Albie said “I like Miles”, Francesca said that “Millie is my friend.” Winnie enjoyed playing with Millie and said that “I am giving Millie a cuddle”. Oscar recognised that Miles was upset and stated “Miles is crying because he is sad.”
We have noticed a welcome impact and that by using the different characters and resources our teams are seeing an improvement as they are more emotionally intelligent. We aren’t the only ones to recognise the changes that are taking place. Our children are now recognising their many great skills, qualities and behaviours and value themselves and each other much more than before – they display kind hands and hearts and use kind words to each other. They now listen to significant adults and each other more readily and pay attention to what is being said – there is a marked improvement in their concentration and focus. Their language and communication skills alongside their vocabulary are improving too. It is also great to see that our children are sharing and turn taking – they are becoming more tolerant and patient and practicing negotiation in an age and stage appropriate way. The Milly and Miles resources made available to us are having such a positive impact on our children and we look forward to extending their use as our children transition and progress.
Our children are absolutely delighted when their efforts are acknowledged by our Pre School team for Super Sitting, Wonderful Watching, Lovely Listening, Terrific Talking and Good Sharing and they proudly share their certificates and words of praise with their parents and carers at the end of their nursery day. Our parents are commenting that their home environment is more enabling and harmonious as children have made up the missing ground in their Personal, Social and Emotional Development. They are now much more respectful of and towards each other, and there are fewer displays of negative behaviour amongst siblings and other close family members of their age group; those previously missing positive and meaningful relationships now flourish.