Army&You spoke to some early years settings to find out how they support service children…

The Nest, Tidworth – 27 service children out of 32

How will the nursery help my child settle in?

We’ll send a pack to your child before their start date, which includes a welcome video and pictures of their key worker and the room. Children are invited in for two taster sessions, and we usually complete a home visit, but this is just a phone call for now.

What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location?

With the pressures of moving this can be a big change and challenge in a child’s life. We talk about it with the children whether they’ve just moved here or are leaving us.

Before COVID-19, we also held coffee mornings and stay and play sessions for new parents. We’re also opening a new nursery on the Corunna Estate, which will have lots of service children.

Does the nursery have links with the local military community?

We invite our local military community to open days and occupation weeks, but during COVID-19 we’ve been restricted. All our children dress up for Armed Forces Day and join in the celebrations. During Remembrance, we take our children to our local war memorial to lay a wreath and we love to visit nearby military museums too.

What do parents say?

“Not only have our children been supported but as a family it’s made us stronger.

“This nursery has gone above and beyond when it comes to kindness and compassion.”


Chatterbox, Upavon – Mainly service children

How will the nursery help my child settle in?

As most of the children come from service families, we have a deep understanding of the effects of such turbulence. We have a simple morning routine that provides a sense of familiarity each day to help to settle children quickly. We encourage dialogue between parents and staff so we know when soldiers are away; we understand the impact that this can have on a child’s sense of security and routine.

What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location?

Speak honestly and openly about your child with members of staff – discuss plans for toilet training, daytime naps, special educational needs support and how the early years foundation syllabus is applied. Our management committee is mostly made up of parents living or working on site at Trenchard Lines, so we have a wealth of knowledge on service life.

Does the nursery have links with the local military community?

We have an amazing group of very supportive parents on camp, who are keen to help out – be that working weekends or fundraising. We get a huge amount of support and advice from the CO of Trenchard Lines, HQ South West and DCYP. We’ve listened to our service community and plan to move to full-time hours this year to better support them and we’ll be offering a forest school too.

What do parents say?

“We love the incredibly warm welcome all the children receive at Chatterbox. Both my sons have grown to be confident and outgoing little boys who love to go to pre-school,” says parent Carolyn Morton.


Scots Corner Early Learning and Childcare Centre, Penicuik – 57% service children

How will the nursery help my child settle in?

We recognise that every child/family is unique and therefore our settling in procedures at the centre recognise this.

Each family works in partnership with their child’s key worker to build a strong relationship and create a transition plan that recognises the individual needs of the child and family, whilst supporting them to settle into the centre.

What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location?

We’ve worked hard to really get to know our forces community and what they need from us. Families play an important role in the daily life of the centre and although the current restrictions mean we’re unable to welcome them into the centre every day, it’s still important that we find creative ways to ensure they feel fully engaged in their child’s learning.

Does the nursery have links with the local military community?

We understand how difficult moving to a new area can be and are fortunate to be based in the heart of the military community. Working alongside 2 SCOTS welfare team has given us a fantastic opportunity to build strong relationships and increase our knowledge.

What do parents say?

“My children have come on leaps and bounds since starting at Scots Corner. The staff are lovely and nothing is too much trouble. The best support we’ve received from any nursery they have been to,” says Rebecca Prince.


Raigmore Primary School Nursery, Inverness – 23% service children

How will the nursery help my child settle in?

We take pride in establishing positive relationships with our military families and in providing a holistic approach to education and the health and wellbeing of our children. Prior to starting, our ‘All About Me’ is completed by families to help us gather as much information as possible.

What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location?

Funding from the Armed Forces Education Trust has enabled us to employ an additional teacher to work solely with our military families from nursery to P7. Through appropriate activities, children explore deployment, belonging, as well as change and loss.

Does the nursery have links with the local military community?

We work alongside the unit welfare officer and community development workers, and we have a partnership with RCET, which has provided ongoing support as well as useful books to help us. The Military Liaison Group also helps us to stay connected across our local authority and various services.

During periods of deployment, we provide additional emotional check-ins with the children and offer targeted support, including relaxation, mindfulness or play therapy sessions.

What do parents say?

“The girls were encouraged to talk about their feelings. I applaud Raigmore for the level of understanding they have, not just for the kids but for the parent who’s left behind – they really do try their best to help us.”


SOURCES OF SUPPORT WHEN CHOOSING YOUR SETTING

Engaging with early years settings is key to securing a place at the setting of your choice. Pay a visit prior to moving if you can or take a virtual tour if it’s available. If you have any issues or questions, contact AFF’s education & childcare specialist, Anna Hutchinson at educationsupport@aff.org.uk
You can also find useful information at:

 

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