A preschool in Edinburgh has just opened its door again and is offering a new outdoor learning and play experience for local children including army families from Edinburgh Garrison.
Dreghorn Preschool, which is a small charity-run nursery next to Dreghorn Barracks, has been working with volunteers from the local military community to refurbish its outdoor space. It has doubled the size of its garden by extending into the grounds of the neighbouring Royal Military Police station.
The improvements have made it possible for the preschool to welcome back all 24 children to the setting in adherence with government safety guidelines, while also making sure that every child has access to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor space, including a sensory room, sandpit, mud kitchen, vegetable garden and other imaginative play areas.
New hygiene measures
The preschool has also bought hospital-grade disinfecting fogging machines and new portable hand washing stations and preschool staff will be wearing new brightly coloured uniforms that have been handmade by military spouses at a Forces Scrub Hub in Berkshire. The Sandhurst based group has made two sets of branded uniform and an individual wash bag for each member of the preschool team.
Emma Campbell, preschool manager, explains: “We have always been proud to be a small, family-orientated setting and we know that children thrive in this type of home-from-home environment where they can learn through play and choose whether they play inside or outside.
“The new guidelines presented us with a big challenge as to how we could re-open safely while still providing children with this ‘free-flow’ play experience that we know is so important to their development. We approached the MOD and they quickly helped us find a solution by allowing us to extend the garden perimeter meaning that we can now deliver an improved and renovated outdoor facility.
“The new space allows us to have two separate groups outside, both with access to indoor areas, and another group of eight upstairs. By thoroughly cleaning the spaces throughout the day and overnight we’ll be able to rotate the groups regularly so that all the children get to enjoy all the different areas. We don’t have plastic toys, but the children will still have access to their usual wooden toys, loose parts and natural materials and these will be cleaned every day and swapped out every few weeks. We are still running our mindfulness sessions, Spanish lessons and yoga practice which the children love and will remember doing.”
Edinburgh Garrison Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Clark, adds: “Quality childcare is really important to military families. They often live living a long way from family and friends and may face extended periods with a serving partner away from home, so we are delighted that Dreghorn Preschool has re-opened this summer. It’s fantastic to have such an outstanding early years setting on our doorstep and I’m sure that the children are loving having even more outdoor space to explore.”
Dreghorn Preschool is one of a number of nurseries in Edinburgh to be providing the 1140 hours childcare scheme, which gives universal free childcare to children in Scotland aged 3-5. There are currently 16 preschool aged children at Dreghorn benefiting from the scheme.
Visit www.dreghornpreschool.co.uk for more.