We are slowly and lovingly putting our vision into practice at The Homestead. We are a Reggio inspired setting and we were lucky enough to go on a study tour last year, where we were able to take our inspiration first hand from the beautiful schools that we visited.
Making learning visible, bringing creativity to everything we do, giving children opportunities to express themselves in many different ways, creating a beautiful, inviting learning environment and using a wide variety of materials to stimulate all the children’s senses are the key elements of our Reggio inspiration.
As a nursery we also focus on children’s wellbeing as all our staff are trained in the Solihull Approach which is how we support our children and their behaviours through our child development knowledge and always taking into account their ability to express themselves, any changes in circumstances at home or nursery, and their stage of development.
We are expanding and refurbishing our nursery currently and since returning from Reggio we were really taken by their approach to shared/together times and particularly meal times. We wanted to create a space that all our children in nursery could use together so that meal times could be a real social event.
We wanted the space to create a calming atmosphere so that children could relax at mealtimes and not feel rushed even though they are busy times. We also wanted enough space that staff could interact with the children comfortably without having to stand over children, so that they could share conversation or allow children to interact with their peers without feeling overlooked.
Here is our Cwtch!!!
Welsh is our second language and Cwtch means “hug”.
We were hoping that our children would feel the “Cwtch” just by stepping in to the space and feel welcomed.
Since we have used our Cwtch for mealtimes, all the rooms have commented on the difference in the children. They are much happier, there is much more conversation and interaction, and there is much less food waste!!!
Our chefs are able to provide lovely homemade food and prepare dishes with all our children too as they cook with our chefs in the afternoon to prepare dishes for snack or the following day. Again, this was another element from Reggio that we observed and wanted to bring back to our setting. The children were involved with the chefs in preparing meals, setting tables and clearing away, mealtimes were a very large part of the school day.
We would like to further develop this element of mealtimes and give children responsibility for setting and clearing away to create an occasion at each meal time as it is a special time to be shared with friends and adults alike.
Our children also have excellent cutlery skills!! We encourage self feeding from our Tiddlers (babies) and then encourage cutlery use as their skills develop throughout nursery. Our Pioneers and Discoverers are confident cutters and can easily push peas onto a fork without dropping one!!!
We still have lots of work to do with our refurbishments, but we feel that the “Cwtch” has already become the heart of our nursery in a very short space of time, giving our children a lovely calm space to come and enjoy mealtimes as a real social occasion and we hope to build on this to further support our children’s wellbeing.
My name is Rachel Lloyd and I am a partner at The Homestead Nursery in Gresford, North Wales. I was formerly an Early Years teacher for 7 years and started our nursery in May 2017 with my friend and business partner Kim Jones, who used to be a health visitor.
You can follow our journey on Instagram or Facebook!