Parent’s Questions and Answers

Following a parent’s information evening with the staff of Little Cuckoos in May 2017, a variety of questions were asked to find out more about the day-to-day routine at the pre-school and how children are developing. We hope all parents find the following information useful:

How much time does my child spend playing and learning outside?

Every day, children spend at least half an hour learning through play in the outdoor space at Little Cuckoos, and this takes place after morning and afternoon snack time. If the weather is warm and dry, more time is spent exploring outside and the back doors are left open for children to enjoy free play. Snack time is often enjoyed outside during the summer months.

Does my child’s packed lunch go in the fridge after I drop him/her off in the morning?

Yes. By registration, all packed lunches are stored in the fridge by a member of staff, often with involvement from some of the children who pass the boxes and bags to the member of staff.

Is there anything I should be mindful of when packing my child’s lunch at Little Cuckoos?

Think about the most practical way to wrap food for your child. For example, cling film can be a real challenge for a child to unwrap and will therefore slow them down. Foil or small plastic pots are much easier for them. Please always ensure that cherry tomatoes and grapes are cut in half to avoid any dangers of choking.

We always encourage children to eat healthily and finish their sandwiches first before moving onto other items in their packed lunch. Each child is encouraged to pour their own drinks at snack and lunchtime to develop their independence and social skills. Depending on their dietary requirements, each child is given a third of a pint of semi-skimmed milk a day and has access to their own bottle of water.

How do you deal with toilet training?

We take the parent’s lead and support toilet training at whichever stage a child is at, by encouraging their independence and giving plenty of praise. We don’t use a potty at Little Cuckoos. Instead, children are encouraged from the start to use the low-rise toilets and get into the habit of washing their hands. Children watch other children during their toilet needs, and this often encourages others in the training process to use the toilet with help from a member of staff. We do have a bank of spare clothes, but we ask parents to pack plenty of spare clothing in the event of any little accidents.

If a child is not engaging in an activity, how do you handle this?

Staff at Little Cuckoos can get everything they want from whatever the child is engaging in because they are learning through play and using their imagination all the time to develop. However, if we notice that there is a repetitive reluctance to take part in a particular activity, for example messy play, the child’s key person will chat this through with the parent to discuss their observations. Staff will always get creative with children to find ways of getting them involved in all activities.

How much free playtime do the children have and how much structured time do they have during each session?

Children have a choice of structured play and free play, and everything a child engages with allows their key person to make observations about their learning and development. We encourage children to take part in adult-led activities, such as arts and crafts or baking – particularly at seasonal times of the year – however a child does not have to take part in the structured activity if they are not interested in doing so.

Is music/singing and dancing a daily activity in the children’s routine at Little Cuckoos?

Absolutely. Every day we make time to enjoy rhyming, alliteration, free-dancing, singing – even ballet! We also use musical instruments during the week. Music and movement is very much part of their daily routine.

If a child does not engage with other children, how is this handled?

It’s typical that children around the age of 3-years-old do not seek to engage with other children. They often play alongside each other or play games together, but children are often happy playing independently too and this is not considered to be a concern in their development. Staff encourage friendships through sharing activities and playing games together, but we do not force it if a child is not willing to participate.

Initially, when a child joins Little Cuckoos they form a close bond with their key person who becomes their first trusted friend at the pre-school before they build the confidence to integrate with others. If there appears to be any concern with the child’s social development, the key person would always discuss these concerns with the parent.

How do you manage disruptive behaviour from children?

Sam Keller is the behaviour management leader at Little Cuckoos and attends regular training on how to manage children, which is then shared among the rest of the staff. Each key person will log and observe any disruptive behaviour and will look closely to see whether there is a pattern in a particular type of behaviour. The key person will work with this child to support them and find out what is causing the problem. If the problem is persistent, a meeting would be arranged with the child’s parents to keep them informed and find out whether there is anything happening at home that could be at the root of the disruptive behaviour, such as the arrival of a new baby, moving house or a parent returning to work after a long period of staying at home. We therefore encourage parents to share with their key person what is happening at home that could potentially affect behaviour.

If the behaviour becomes a persistent problem, Little Cuckoos will take deeper observations and seek advice from external agencies, working closely with the child’s parents along the way. The relationship we have with a parent makes a huge difference in tackling any problems regarding a child’s behaviour.

Is there a record of how well my child is developing/learning?

Yes. Every child has its own learning journey which is created by the key person and then three times a year. From this learning journey, a summative assessment is put together to assess the child’s development against their age. This is then put into a progress tracker to monitor how children are performing. Staff at Little Cuckoos observe children all the time by taking photographic evidence of their skills and by writing in notepads throughout the day to capture their journey.

When children leave Little Cuckoos to move onto school, their new teachers look through their learning journeys. There is also an end of year report which goes to the school.

What can we as parents do at home to support the learning and development of our child?

The best way to continue your child’s development is to talk to them all the time, whether this is through reading a variety of books, engaging in conversations about what they are doing, singing to them or rhyming. Focus on boosting the confidence of your child to prepare them for school, such as practising their self-care routines to ensure they’re able to clean themselves after using the toilet. If your child is able to understand language and listen, clean themselves and get dressed without help, they are going to settle into school life with greater confidence.

Once a school place has been allocated for my child, what happens next at Little Cuckoos?

There will be visits from each of the schools to Little Cuckoos which parents will be informed about in advance. Parents will also be informed directly by the school regarding arrangements for a taster session at the child’s new school. There is a parent’s evening every summer at Little Cuckoos to enable parents to discuss the school process with their key person.

It would be useful to know what activities are planned for the week so we can help continue the learning theme at home. How can this best be communicated?

A new parent information section of the monthly newsletter will be created to give parents improved insight into what activities are being carried out and what themes are being covered. This will start after May half-term 2017.