All approved childcare providers in every setting are responsible for this and should follow the Early Years Foundation Curriculum. You should take note when you visit that this is being provided as outlined in this resource - What is taught in a pre-school setting? Most settings will be nurseries but when the setting is the home of a childminder you still need to consider all these factors.
How can I be sure that my child will receive experiences for learning that he enjoys?
There is real skill in interpreting the requirements of the Foundation Curriculum so as to balance its formal demands with elements of learning through play. You must decide what balance of formal learning and play-based learning your child needs when you consider a setting.
Consider if the environment is appropriately busy and purposeful without being rushed and pressurized. Parents have told the BSA that their child who stammers can feel disturbed by a very busy and noisy environment and responds better in one that is quieter and more structured.
Enquire about the means by which staff assess progress, the arrangements for reporting this to parents and the opportunities to meet staff.
Talking and listening
A setting that actively supports this is helpful for your child, as he can build up his confidence in speaking and listening.
You should observe activities with a child, or children, in the setting so that you can see how well key adults communicate with them. Notice if they use appropriate language and speak clearly and slowly enough to be understood by a young child.
Check if they appear interested in the children's responses and are obviously listening attentively. When staff speak to children you should feel that they enjoy talking with children, are making the effort to introduce varied vocabulary and are encouraging the children to learn words in a positive way. Remember that a child who stammers may be more sensitive than is the norm and responds best to a gentle and caring approach.
There should be evidence of good practice in managing talking and listening so that staff should be seen by you maintaining appropriate eye contact with a child while talking to him, and obviously listening to what the child says. They should understand the importance of turn-taking so a particularly chatty child does not dominate the rest.
Listening is as important as talking
The balance between staff and children listening and talking should be about equal.
You should see evidence of resources for this in the rooms that the children use. Look for attractive books displayed in such a way as to attract a young child, and try to see that they are not just for show by observing other children using them. Check the titles and the pictures to ensure that they represent the kind of literature that you know your child will enjoy. The books should reflect the cultural diversity of our society and the range of needs that people can have, so as to give your child a broad and balanced insight into his world
Rules for daily procedures
Ideally procedures for these, such as staff taking the register, or a child making a toilet request will be as flexible as possible so that children can respond in their own way. Your child may find it difficult to answer his name at registration for instance, and would be helped by a flexible policy that allows children to respond by putting their hand up.
Check the policy on urgent requests such as visiting the toilet, so that if your child stammered severely when he wanted to ask he would be allowed to communicate by gestures. There is nothing to be gained in such an urgent situation by insisting that a child has to make a request in a set way. Accidents are humiliating and should be avoided at all costs.
Staff should be able to recognize the need to celebrate achievement and build up self-esteem. You should see evidence of this when you visit with displays of work and achievement. You should notice this in the way staff communicate with children, and whether children's work is mounted attractively on display.
Look for evidence of outdoor and musical activities, as we know that they help with the development of self-esteem and confidence in all children. These activities may be especially helpful for a child who stammers, as they support the development of an understanding of rhythm and pace. Observe the balance between active play and more structured learning to ensure that it meets your preferences.
Communication between the home and the Early Years setting
This should be clear from the beginning and parents should know exactly what arrangements are made for this. Often the setting will provide a diary in which both the staff and the parents can write daily, so that details of the child's needs and progress are always monitored.
In a group setting it is helpful to have a designated key worker with whom parents can liaise.
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Text for this page: Delivering the curriculum
Text for this whole section: Choosing your pre-school provider