At Ellingham House we aim to provide in the Toddler Group, a secure and stimulating environment for children aged between eighteen months and three years.
The children will either be moving down from our Baby-Unit, or joining the group as new “Ellingham” children.
Although ages are defined as above, it is the individual development of the child, both physically and mentally, which determines the exact age of both joining and graduating from the group, thus slight variations may apply. The Toddler group is based on the ground floor of the main house in three large playrooms, one of which being the conservatory extension (completed in 2002). The rooms are light and airy and the play equipment has been carefully considered to afford children the opportunity to discover and experiment independently, within a provision of structured activities. The children progress from Younger Toddlers through Older Toddlers into the ‘little pre-school’ group in the conservatory, where they commence the Foundation Stage of education (3 years to end of school reception year).
Use is also made of our large dining-room and of the secure, paved outside play area; in the summer months the French doors in the Younger Toddler and conservatory rooms open up, giving direct access to this ‘open-air’ area. The Toddlers benefit from the extensive and delightful grounds of Ellingham House, where they can run and stretch their legs whilst on walks to visit our ‘pets-corner’, including Monet the miniature Shetland pony, Pepper, Poppy, ping & Pong Our Suffolk Sheep and Daisy our Dwarf Red Dexter
The day is structured around break-times and meal-times, with an organised rest period after lunch. The amount of rest and sleep varies from child to child at this age: some children wake early in the morning and will therefore require some more sleep; some children may not sleep as well at night if their mid-day sleep is too long; some children may have already dropped their day-time sleep, Whatever their needs, we try to accommodate them. The children brush their teeth after their breakfast and then settle on our beds or mattresses, to the accompaniment of quiet music and gentle comforting from staff.
Children also need, from time to time, the opportunity to sit quietly, or rest during the day. One place which offers this is our book corner with comfy sofa, where children can look at attractive books appropriate to their age and cuddle up with a member of staff. We also allow for quieter activities and during the morning session the children may watch ‘Tweenies’ or a short (20 minutes) video.
Snack: At snack time we offer milk or water, with fresh fruit, and in the afternoon session drinks are provided after the children have woken from their sleep. However, fresh water is available all day for children to access when required.
Lunch: Is at twelve o’clock; it is prepared by our chef and consists of a nutritious first course followed by a dessert. The children sit at round tables with the toddler group staff, who become familiar with each child’s requirements. This is also a most important time for developing social skills in interaction with their fellow diners.
Tea-time is at four o’clock and is fairly substantial – typically crumpets, toasted muffins, bagels, pasta, veg sticks, fruit fresh and stewed, small biscuit or cake – as some children may be returning home close to their bed times it is important that they have a good tea, whilst others, may eat again with their parents and this is considered by the nursery staff.
Toddler group activities, organised by the group leader, allow the children to take part in a wide range of learning situations and experiences, whilst having lots of fun and enjoyment. Children at this age are still finding out what their bodies can and will allow them to do: they are just emerging from the stage of exploring with their mouths – they have more control of their fingers and legs, and thus can now explore with these.
We ensure that toys are safe and stimulating, allowing for individual growth and sharing with others. It is at this time that the children become aware of the other children around them: they may continue to play on their own, enjoying both adult involvement and their own newly acquired independence. As the caring adults, the care staff have to arrange opportunities for sharing and taking turns – a difficult but necessary part of growing up!
A very important and central aspect of nursery life at Ellingham focuses on encouraging our children to consider and care for those around us. One of the ways we encourage this facet of life at Ellingham is with our organised Circle Time and those many occasions when the group comes together to look at books, or for Rhyme Time.
At Circle and Rhyme time we enjoy nursery rhymes and songs which encourage the children to participate either vocally or with appropriate finger and arm actions. Hopefully, you will hear and enjoy these songs at home too! All this encourages language development, group participation, listening to adults, and learning the other children’s names – and is also great fun.
Imaginative play is an important part of a child’s development. Throughout life, we imitate the actions we see others taking – either independently, or as part of a group. At Ellingham, we have dressing-up clothes, a kitchen unit, dolls and blankets and a ‘Wendy House’ which can also be a shop or a cafe or a hospital or anything a child’s imagination wishes it to be. These allow the children to learn to care for others and to copy activities they see at home, or out with parents.
We begin in our Baby-Unit to introduce children to new experiences and sensations. As toddlers gain fine motor control and can more easily hold a crayon and paint brush, they can enjoy painting, crayoning, using a glue stick, playing with play-dough and cornflour. The end result isn’t important – indeed, with the concentration span still limited, it is the sheer fun of the activity (the textures experienced, the physical actions and indeed, the mess!) that is the toddler’s enjoyment. Water and sand play are both therapeutic and creative, channelling the energies and the imaginations of the children.
Toddlers always need the opportunity to let off steam – to run and jump, to learn to kick a ball and ride a tricycle, to push and pull, to pick up and put in. All these activities allow children to develop their co-ordination skills, balance and muscle control, whilst encouraging them to take their turn and fulfil their curiosity. Our range of outdoor toys and the spacious grounds ideally complement the staff’s enthusiasm and expertise in encouraging the children’s confidence and motivation.
At the age of approximately two and a quarter years, our toddlers move into the older toddler group, located in the front play room. Activities here include table-top toys (threading / matching games, lotto and jigsaws), to encourage fine motor control and co-ordination, a definite story-time to encourage a love of stories coupled with a respect for books, and number and finger rhymes to aid early maths awareness. Very soon these children will be ready to join our Conservatory Group, and we begin to prepare them for the more structured day they will experience there.
We feel our toddlers have a fun-filled, enjoyable day within a secure, caring environment. We ensure that we see children both as individuals and also part of the group. The key worker system at Ellingham allows individual members of staff to focus on the needs of individuals, but the team spirit and philosophy of the nursery allows this to merge with an awareness of the needs of the whole group, and a responsibility to attend to these. Our philosophy of child care is rooted in an ethos of praise and encouragement. Standards of behaviour – good manners, courtesy, concern for others – are fostered by good example and by nurturing and establishing our expectations clearly, warmly and consistently.
We maintain profiles on the children keeping an eye on developments by using Tapestry an online educational software vehicle which will enable you to follow your child’s individual progress closely. We encourage you to have input to share your childs achievements. Our learning journey folder and use of tapestry entries will enable you to look back with a good deal of pleasant memories of early years at Ellingham house.