At Whitefriars Childcare Ltd. we have a small and homely baby unity with fully qualified staff. Their activities will include singing, nursery rhymes, sensory play and helping to stimulate your baby with different shapes and colours. The staff will also be helping a record of the day’s events and will provide parents with an update of their baby’s day. You will need to provide all of your baby’s requirements i.e. made up bottles, food, nappies, wipes and sudocream.
The Montessori room (three years – five years approx.) is run by fully qualified Montessori teachers with the skills to communicate with the children in a constructive and fun way. The class is there to develop the individuality of your child and to meet their social, emotional, physical and learning needs. There is also plenty of time after the class for your child to have fun activities such as arts & crafts, music and movement, painting, free and outdoor fun.
We have a small and homely baby room with fully qualified childcare practitioners who are committed to meeting your baby’s needs. Parents/careers usually enrol their baby with us from eight months but we are insured to take babies from three months old. Babies are at their happiest when their needs are being met through their own routine. When a baby starts with us we nurture their own routine from home, whatever their sleep times, bottles, meal times etcetera, have been at home we continue to facilitate this in crèche until they are one year old. From the baby’s first birthday we slowly change their routine to the ‘crèche’ routine in preparation for the wobbler room, children normally move from the baby room to the wobbler room at fourteen months old. A typical day in the baby room includes singing songs, sensory play/ messy play, painting, garden time, facilitating child led play and many more fun activities which will help your baby meet their developmental milestones. The practitioners will also record the day’s events in your child’s daily record book and on collection practitioners and parents liaise with each other regarding the baby’s general wellbeing and how their day went. We ask parents / carers to provide formula bottles or expressed mother’s milk, nappies, wipes, nappy cream and a change of clothes every day.
Children are approximately fourteen months old when they join the wobbler room. The room is full of age appropriate toys and designed for the children who are still a little unsteady on their feet. There are grab rails, push along walkers and low down shelves for the children to steady themselves when learning to walk and to pull themselves off the floor into a standing position. The childcare practitioners in the wobbler room will be able to meet your child’s developmental needs by providing learning opportunities for them to explore in a fun and safe environment, through laughing, talking, singing, sensory play, music and movement, stories, art and craft, baking and outdoor play. The children thrive in this play based environment and their development is recorded through observations, learning stories and developmental records which are shared with parents in addition to the children’s daily record books.
The toddler room is designed to meet the needs of the two to three year olds. This is achieved by having a mix of interest areas such as construction, home corner and small world play for the children to explore and play in. The child care practitioners provide a mix of floor and table top activities for the toddlers to introduce them to group activities (in preparation for Montessori) which encourages turn taking, sharing and listening skills. The toddler room primarily has an Aistear play based curriculum but the children get an introduction to some early Montessori activities which we call ‘work’ this enables the children to develop their concentration skills and encourages independence because the children choose their own ‘work’ and learn self-care skills such as spooning, pouring, buttoning and polishing.
Our day in the toddler room is generally very busy, as mentioned above there are lots of opportunities for the children to play and the practitioners support this by offering learning experiences which come from the children’s emerging interests (that is from observations and learning stories) such as process art, messy play, garden time games, baking, jungle gym, obstacle courses, drawing and mark making, Zumba, dress up and role play. With the combination of a stimulating learning environment and incorporating activities that have come from the children’s interests the children are very happy in the group which is no small feat for a group of children going through the terrible twos!
The Montessori room is tailored for children between three to five years of age, with a mixture of interest areas, spaces for group work, play areas for floor play and spaces to relax such as the book corner. The group’s learning is supported by Montessori teachers and childcare practitioners who are qualified to deliver a high standard of care through a Montessori curriculum developed with the Aistear: The National Pre-School Curriculum Framework. The early years educators work with the children in small groups and on a one to one basis to meet the children’s individual needs.
The children have Montessori work time in the mornings and afternoons and are offered with a range of planned activities throughout the day which include science experiments, art and craft, circle time, drawing, role play, dress up, baking, messy play, Irish dancing, yoga, Gymboree, mark making / drawing, cutting and literacy work.
During outdoor play we encourage the children’s physical development, we have a range of sports equipment and toys that the children can play with to develop their gross motor skills. We plan trips and love to get out as often as possible. We have in the past attended music classes in Christ Church and go to the farm in the spring-time or to the park weather permitting.
Some parents think of Montessori as preparation for ‘big’ school and expect their child to know all their letters and numbers before they leave us. Quite often the children do know all their letters and numbers but sometimes they may know the things that are important to them such as the letters in their name, the letters in their family’s names and a handful of numbers that have meaning to them. We do not put pressure on the children to learn letters and numbers. If they have an interest in a topic we facilitate this and encourage it. If the children do not show an interest in an area of the curriculum, we let them guide their learning in another direction and over the coming months we revisit this area and offer the learning experience again when they are more receptive to it. For us as early years educators the most important thing to give children is a love of learning. As the children learn we want them to be inquisitive, to explore, to question and to have a thirst for knowledge. Which will stand to them as they continue their learning journey once they come of age to leave the group.
What we do strongly encourage though is respect for others, being a good friend, turn taking, social skills, independence, self-care skills and talking in a group. We do this by modelling these behaviours for the children, and offering encouragement for any area they are struggling with. We feel that these skills can be more important for children going to school than knowing basic numbers and letters. If a child is comfortable speaking in a group, can do things independently and has the social skills to make friends they will be a lot happier in school than someone who can recognise numbers one to ten will be.
Parental involvement is a big deal to us in the creche and Montessori and is valued immensely. We frequently invite parents into our class to take part in activities, to help on a trip or get involved in one of our celebrations. The children love when parents, carers or family members come into the service to take part in events. We see the benefits for the children for us to work in partnership with families and we embrace ways that we can improve on this partnership.