Providing for Play in the Nursery Group

Just as mothers at home do, nursery groups and staff have to carefully work out the provision they can make for young children. Although they are providing for only a two-year span (generously interpreted to take account of mature fives and immature threes) and have no other function than to fulfil the needs of this group of children, nursery groups still need to plan carefully what they do with limited space and funds.

Buying equipment for a nursery is very different from the home. Because the age range is limited all the money can be spent in this area – but because generation after generation will need to use the material it has to be even sturdier and stronger than for the home. As the nursery offers more opportunity for social play it needs more large equipment, more of the two-person apparatus. And because there are more children at each stage the nursery can offer more variations at every level of ability and interest. Although more money may be available a good deal of equipment may well have to be made, either because it has to fit into special places for use and storage, or quite simply because it is not available to buy. In spite of there being more nursery equipment designed and produced commercially in the last ten years there are still many gaps which have not been filled. As in the home there can be advantages in making equipment: sometimes it can be made more strongly and of better materials; it can be tailor-made for a specific group of children or an individual child; the children can be involved in the making process; a limited budget can be stretched further.

Nursery staff are usually very good at crafts of various kinds and as a group are extremely resourceful people. Their time and energy is not unlimited however and often the most successful first steps towards parent involvement within a new group is to ask parents to help make and provide equipment. Specific in- structions and suggestions are necessary. Giving them patterns or examples to follow ensures that whatever is made really fits the need and this is a small effort to make in view of the tangible and less tangible benefits.

Any nursery group, whether playgroup or nursery class, has storage problems to face. Even where there is enough space it has to be used to advantage. This is necessary because of the nature of work with young children who need to have concrete experience, to handle a great deal of material and who may take several sessions to work through a self-designed project. If staff are to keep up with providing the next stage of material when it is needed then it must be ready to hand. This involves storing raw material in addition to play material. The husband who challenges his nursery-group wife about being the complete answer to the pollution problem as far as dry waste is concerned may think he is being originally witty. He is not, of course, but he does have a point.

Summary distance and money are names mean nothing. Eliminated.

There are no fees for state nursery education. , . , may or may not be vital to a there are always fees to be paid group.

For non-state nursery education. , , _ , , _ can be beneficial for parents. There are rules, regulations and advised procedures for every ^ be beneficial to the nursery.

Type of nursery group but these is always beneficial to the are not uniformly interpreted children.

App ie “ brings the benefits of home into there is no true choice for parents nursery.

Unless problems of availability, brings the benefits of the nursery into the home.

Does not arise because someone says it should. It has to be necessary – not only desirable. It has to be flexible in interpretation and it has to be given time to develop.

A three-year-old is at a different stage and has different needs from a five-year-old – the system must be fitted round him, not him slotted into the system.

Policy may be a long-term evolution but the needs of current three-to-five-year-old children still have to be met.

Nurseries have to provide adequately for the children who attend them now, so there are practical problems which have to be faced immediately.