— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) February 17, 2017
All our little ones deserve big futures. But too many children in England are going without the support they need to learn, develop and reach their potential.
That’s why we’ve just launched a new phase of our campaign to push for a qualified early years teacher in every nursery.
Rebecca and Tesse, two mums who are supporting our campaign, have seen the difference that a high quality nursery can have for children. Here are their stories.
Rebecca’s story: The power of great nurseries
I’m the proud mother to two amazing little boys – Andrew, who already attends pre-school, and Oliver, who will be starting after Easter.
The pre-school I chose for Andrew has a qualified early years teacher. However, I’ve since found out that this is not the case for so many pre-schools.
I didn’t realise that lots of nurseries really struggle to hire staff with graduate level qualifications because of the tight budgets they’re running on.
New learning every day
Andrew absolutely loves going to pre-school. I had feared my shy little boy would be nervous and tentative with new experiences. On the contrary, he is outgoing, and learns something new every day.
The staff are trained to help the children learn through play. He’s learnt about different cultures and traditions, about life cycles. He takes part in science classes, baking, nature walks… the list goes on.
Andrew’s maths and phonics have come on in leaps and bounds too.
Being pushed and inspired
At the moment, the older children are being given special attention to prepare them for primary school in September and I’m so grateful for this additional help.
Although I do what I can at home, I’m not a professional and don’t know the best techniques to help him learn.
Where it is the norm for girls to outperform boys, I want my two boys to break the trend. I want them to be pushed and inspired to do just as well as the girls.
Setting children up for school
Pre-school is such an important time for a child. If a child starts primary school behind their peers, evidence shows that they are at greater risk of staying behind.
This is why it’s so important that each nursery has someone who’s specially trained to help children develop their early language and numeracy skills through play, and to help struggling children to catch up by the time they reach school.
The knowledge they pick up from their qualifications can be of benefit to the staff around them too.
I think the government should be investing in children’s education right at the start, because this is the beginning of everything. If a child has a solid foundation to build on, it sets them up for life.
Tesse’s story: early support is vital
I am Tesse, a mum of two girls – Liselot, who is five, and Bo, who has just turned two.
When Liselot was younger, I made a big effort to find a nursery that was the right environment for her, which included an early years teacher.
Liselot certainly benefited from the planned developmental activities, and I really noticed an improvement in her language and attention skills.
We received regular feedback on Liselot’s progress, and this helped us to incorporate more learning at home.
Children are falling behind
It’s clear to me how important it is for children to be supported by an early years teacher at nursery, before they start reception.
I live in a disadvantaged area, and I volunteer as a reader at a local school.
I have met a number of children with speech delays, and children in reception class who are still unable to have a conversation.
Learning through play
I really have to praise the children I read with. They try so hard, but often their self-esteem is already low at the age of four. This should not be the case.
The right type of learning through play at nursery gives children a much better chance to develop their language and reading skills.
I also think it would help children feel happier. Starting reception behind your peers can be an anxious experience for a child.
Happiness and confidence
The children I meet in school and elsewhere in my community need to be given support to start reception with happiness and confidence.
Nursery staff do a fantastic job for children, but the government needs to ensure employers can afford an early years teacher, to help support a team of well-qualified staff.
Alongside this important task, I feel passionately about reaching parents and carers who do not use the free childcare and education funding scheme for two- to four-year-olds.