To carry on my Family Review tour, yesterday I visited Sunshine Corner Nursery in Aylesham, Kent, with Neil Leitch CEO of Early Years Alliance.
I want to start by thanking all the staff, especially Manager Hayley and Deputy Manager Sally, for hosting me. It was such a well organised and thoughtful visit, and from the moment I walked through the door I could tell I was in a setting centred around the children and community.
I started by spending time with the 3–5-year-olds – from the group reading to the garden the nursery was set up to help children learn through play. Following this, we then went into the baby-room. Supported by the wonderful staff, they were fully engaged in creative activities. All the children couldn’t have been more excited to share with me what they had been working on that day – underwater creatures!
However, I wasn’t just there to play. I wanted to speak to parents of young children to understand their experiences with childcare, how they had found the emergence from the pandemic and what more support their family would need. They spoke openly about the challenges of having a baby and young child during the pandemic – whether that was a lack of health visitors or delayed speech and language progress. As they emerged from the pandemic, the parents spoke about Sunshine Corner Nursery being key to help their young children’s development and support for the family. But of course, more is needed – they spoke about additional flexibility in the financial support for childcare.
Overwhelmingly, however, parents spoke about their love for Sunshine Corner Nursery and the support it had provided their families. They saw it the heart of the community and a place where their child could be safe, play and learn. Thank you, Neil, for the invite to such a happy and loving nursery.