Your child is able to have a formal education from the age of 3 onwards by attending a nursery. Most nurseries are privately owned and run, but increasingly more and more state primary schools are adding a nursery facility onto their school site. This encourages continuity for your child, so that s/he may be on the same site between the ages of 3 and 11. The nursery years (ages 3 to 4) are sometimes called Foundation. There is no legal obligation for children to attend nurseries or school until they reach 5, but many working parents find that a nursery is an ideal place for their children to go to whilst they are at work. Some children may attend nursery for just one or two days a week at first, before attending for longer periods once they have settled in.

How nurseries help children
Nuseries help children to grow and develop in many different ways. Firstly, they help children to s
ocialise and meet both other children and adults. This is a very important stage in a child’s personal development. Secondly, they help children to learn through play and games. although children may think they are playing whilst they are at nursery, they are in fact learning all the time. They can learn things like counting, sorting, colours and numbers whilst they are playing. Finally, nurseries help children to become more independent. This means that they are not so reliant on their parents, but soon learn to think for themselves and make decisions. Away from their home they discover that there are lots of other things to discover and learn from.

What should you look for in nursery
The first thing you should look for in a nursery is how happy the children seem. Are they contented? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves? Or are they unhappy? Also are the children mixing with each other? Secondly, is there plenty of equipment spread around the nursery, such as toys, vehicles, crayons, paint, sand, paper and glue. All this is needed to stimulate the children and help them to learn. Thirdly, is the building well maintained? Is it in good decorative order? Does the room look bright and airy with the children’s work on the walls along with pictures and posters. Finally, think about how you feel about the place. Do you think your child would be happy there. Do the staff seem freindly patient and welcoming? Or are they preoccupied with other things?

How can I help my child learn at home?
There are many things a parent can do to help their child learn at home. From a very early age you can sing and say nursery rhymes to them which helps them to learn the skill of remembering information. Whenever you talk to your child you can point out things around them so they learn the names of things, such as birds, trees, cars, people, animals, etc. Also things like colours, numbers, days, etc are very important in a child’s learning experience. The regular reading of stories to your child, (not just at bedtime), encourages children to eventually read for themselves. Don’t be tempted to sit your child in front of the television or video every day. For a change, why not take them for a walk to the park or the shops or visit a friend or a relative. The more interaction a child has with its parent, the better s/he will be at socialising and learning later on.