Frequently Asked Questions
How much time do you spend outside?
We are outside as much as physically possible. Although we have a beautiful, fully equipped classroom we are outside almost all the time during the autumn, spring and summer. During the winter we come indoors when the weather is very windy, rainy or cold. Sometimes this means we spend the morning outside and we will come inside to have our snack and then have a little play. Other days we will begin inside and venture out when the weather clears up or after our snack. All of our indoor activities can be done outdoors so we can bring our equipment outside when we need it.
What do you do if it rains?
We aren't afraid of the rain at Natural Start. If there is a light shower we usually keep playing, it doesn't bother us! If there is a heavy shower we will take cover in the polytunnel or other shelter and keep on playing. If the rain is very heavy and prolonged we will come inside and have our snack continue our play there.
How do you handle toilet training?
Due to the nature of being outdoors and in wet-gear, it is important that children are toilet trained before starting with us. We provide plenty of opportunity for success while children master these skills. We encourage children to be independent in changing and organising themselves. If you think you need help in this area let us know in advance of preschool starting and we can give you some tips. There is a lot you can do to help your child and just remember that they all get there eventually!
How does the first week go?
We try to ease the children into the transition to preschool as smoothly as possible. We hold play days from June to August for children starting with us. Families can stay and chat. Children will get to know the layout of the school and toilets with parents there to help if needed. For the first few days of school we begin with shorter hours than normal. After that we need parents to be really punctual and to "drop and go" so we can get straight to something really exciting to entertain the children. In the first few weeks we have plenty of activities planned to get to know each other and so that children don't become bored or lonely.
When do you start?
The start date for 2019 autumn entry has yet to be confirmed.
What clothes does my child need?
Children need to be dressed suitably for the weather. They will need two pairs of wellies, one set to stay in school for emergencies and one set for general use. Neoprene wellies are excellent for the winter months but become too warm for the summer. You can get these from www.warmwellies.co.uk.
Children need a set of wet gear. Lidl sell these each year in September. You can also get high quality sets from www.puddleducks.ie. This is an especially good option if siblings will also make use of them. There are several types of wetgear. Some are dungarees and some are trousers. Trousers can be easier for children who are still toilet training as they are quicker to take off. Dungarees can be better for children who don't like elastic around the waist. Try to get a size that will allow for fleece jumpers underneath during the winter. Runners and sandals are fine during the autumn and summer if the weather allows. Sunhats and sunglasses are also a good idea for these days. Children will need two full sets of spare clothes to stay at school. A waterproof wetbag is also a good idea for bringing home changes of wet/dirty clothes. Try to get a large size that they can manage to fill it themselves to encourage their independence and confidence.
What is your behaviour management policy?
Our school rules are quite simple. We have three rules, to care for ourselves, to care for others and to care for the environment. When children are struggling with these rules we use our behaviour managment policy to support them. Children will always be treated with respect even when they are having a hard time. We don't use Time Out, a naughty step, other punishments or rewards to influence behaviour. We give positive reinforcement of desired behaviour - we ignore bad behaviour and praise good behaviour. We also follow Highscope's six-step plan to resolving conflicts when they arise, which is actually very seldom when outdoors.
- We approach calmly and don't take sides, we aim to reduce the energy in the situation rather than escalate it. Our job is to help children to regulate their emotions and learn that they have the power within themselves to calm down when angry and to cheer up when sad.
- We acknowledge children's feelings, on both sides. This lets them know that we are open and listening and we are also giving them the language to describe their feelings in future situations.
- We gather information from both sides, "what happened?" - encouraging children to use their logic to give the situation some perspective and so calm them further.
- We restate the problem to let them know that we understand and so that they can hear it simply and clearly.
- We ask the children how they could solve the problem themselves. This gives them a chance to think logically and find a solution. This helps them in future situations of conflict.
- We give follow-up support. We help children rejoin play and continue their games. This is usually emotional support but can also be language support, ideas or suggestions.