Saturday 9 March 2019

Visiting Bright Minds Daycare, Jewellery Quarter, and why nursery can provide a bright start for little ones

When Ethan was small, I returned to work four days a week when he turned eight months old, and this soon became full time when I realised I'd spend my day at home with him on emails anyway. We always knew I was going to be a working mum and nursery was the option for us as we didn't have family who could help and we were keen for him to socialise and be around other babies and then children his age.

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When you become a parent, you want to do your best by your child and no doubt have read up about every which way of taking care of them. But you learn on the job, and you become the expert on your baby. For me, as Ethan got older, I knew there would be a limit on the experiences I would be able to offer him - after all, I have no formal qualifications to look after a child, so I really thought to myself, what do I know?! - and I was keen to introduce him to some structured learning in an environment beyond what we could offer.

So whilst the first day of nursery was really hard (for me), and days following on from that, I soon saw how much he was benefiting from his new routine, new pals and new stimulation.

And if I were to sum up the brand new Bright Minds Daycare nursery at Summer Hill Terrace, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, it would be just that - stimulating.

I went to see the Edgbaston nursery when it opened last year, and when Sullivan was growing in my tummy, and was inspired by the daycare's approach to learning for little ones, and amazed at the stunning building and facilities they had put together. And the Jewellery Quarter nursery is no different. It's set in what could easily be mistaken for a manor house from the outside, a few minutes from the city centre but set far enough back from the hustle and bustle, making it convenient for busy Birmingham mums, whilst still feeling private.

Inside, there are dedicated rooms for each learning stage, from babies to toddlers to preschool, and they're filled with engaging toys, play areas, role play activities and creative play toys and work areas. There's plenty of room and freedom to explore.

But that's not to say that there is no structure; there's a clear ethos and purpose behind the approach that the Bright Minds team takes. Employing the best nursery staff, they follow the EYFS principles (Early Years Foundation Stage) but also add their own unique flair, which they call their star framework.

Here's what they have to say about what this approach means:

Cognitive: The brain develops faster during the first five years than at any other time in our lives. At Bright Minds we understand that the quality of interactions, experiences and opportunities given to children during this time are key to laying the foundations for future progression. Our curriculum, physical environments and highly trained staff are aligned to supporting the early stages of cognitive development, defined by Piaget as the Sensorimotor stage (0-2 years), where sensory exploration is key, and the Preoperational stage (2-7 years), where imagination and communication is developed.

Social: Social development and communication skills are heavily influenced by those closest to the children. At Bright Minds we operate a key person system who is not only responsible for learning and development they are the child’s friend as well teacher, alongside being the families’ first port of call on a daily basis. Interactions with other children will be facilitated through teamwork focused activities and collaborative play where each child can learn to value individual differences create bonds with their peers. Speaking and language development will be carefully monitored using ECAT assessments and any barriers addressed early.

Behavioural: Children learn how to behave through the observation of those closest to them alongside the identification and labelling of natural feelings experienced through exploration. Bright Minds believes that by creating a supportive, inclusive and encouraging environment children will learn to exhibit positive behaviours that will build self-confidence, self-awareness and self-control, whilst also developing an empathetic awareness of behaviour which teaches them to be respectful and considerate of others at all times. Children will learn to think critically to resolve conflicts for themselves through the High Scope strategies.

Creative: At Bright Minds we aim to fuel a child’s natural creativity as they learn to express themselves and hone their skills through a wide variety of mediums including art, music, literature, dance and theatre. As each child learns to harness their language skills and emotional development, creative expression is also a key communication channel to help articulate how they are feeling. Our priority is to understand the characteristics of each child in our care to ensure we can tailor learning to accentuate their strengths whilst supporting them through any difficulties. Bright Minds is also passionate about encouraging and teaching children to use creative and alternative thinking when solving problems or tackling new environments.

Physical: Physical development starts from birth and is nurtured throughout a child’s journey at Bright minds. We ensure that each child develops their core strength, gross motor coordination and fine motor dexterity through a facilitative environment designed to offer targeted provision for each stage of a child’s physical development including indoor climbing apparatus and soft play for babies and toddlers alongside outside digging areas and wheeled toy tracks for pre-school children. Bright Minds also provides a wide range of healthy and nutritious meals that are carefully balanced for salt and fat content taking into account the “Children’s Food Trust” guidance for nutrition for under 5s.

Academic: Academic aptitude and advancement is an important aspect of a child’s future progression in life but one that needs to be adapted to individual learning styles to ensure children are able to achieve their potential whilst enjoying not fearing education. The Bright Minds curriculum targets key areas of academic learning including numeracy, literacy (including physical literacy to build gross motor strength and coordination necessary for writing) and science based learning (understanding the world around them) which is guided by our childcare professionals who can mould learning around each child and quickly identify and address any areas for improvement.

There's just a whole lot of 'extra' in the way Bright Minds approach things. The performance studio is stunning, offering a host of creative pursuits from yoga to music, and there's even languages to learn when your child becomes preschool age, because why not introduce these educational experiences, gently, early on in their development?

I love the welcome on their website - 'the home of little superstars' - and it's easy to see that the nursery adds a touch of sparkle to daycare. We loved visiting the new location, which opens this month, and meeting the staff and the team behind Bright Minds was really insightful. The management team really understand what parents are looking for from a nursery and Connor, one of their new employees with some eight years of childcare experience, spoke of the nurturing environment created, for children and for staff, which was very encouraging to hear.

If you're in Birmingham and are looking for an engaging, welcoming and inspiring location for your little one when you return to work, I would highly recommend a visit to Bright Minds Daycare. You yourself might want to stay a while!

Read: my tips for choosing a nursery - and the questions to ask when you visit!


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