It’s Grandparents’ Day (Sunday 29th October) and Nido Early School celebrates this day with visits from grandparents at many of their early schools, making these already comfortable and peaceful environments, even more nurturing. As part of each child’s extended family, grandparents are always welcome at Nido and form a key part of Nido’s educational philosophy – where family and community are an integral for children to experience a sense of belonging.
Nido is the Italian word for ‘nest’ and Nido Early Schools provide a calm and peaceful ‘nest’ for children from six weeks through to school age. The inspiration for Nido Early Schools comes from the world-renowned Reggio Emilia philosophy which follows the belief that the child, parent, community and environment are all essential to the early learning process. Building relationships with families and encouraging a high degree of involvement is central to Nido.
On Grandparents’ Day, the Nido philosophy comes to life as grandparents visit the early schools and connect with their grandchildren and other children. It’s the ideal opportunity for grandparents to be part of the learning journey and spend time with their grandchildren, whilst Nido children become more accepting of other generations- a truly generational learning experience! Understanding they are part of a bigger family and community, teaches collaboration and empathy for all children.
Cetin Turksen and Tulay Turksen are great-grandparents, and they visit their great-grandchildren at the Nido Early School in Westmeadows in Melbourne, Victoria, on special celebratory days and also on normal days to keep in touch with their great-grandchildren.
“I’m a grandfather but I’m also a great-grandfather and I’m very proud of this. It’s so good to go to the school and celebrate Grandparents Day. It’s so good to be included in every aspect of their early education.“Cetin Turksen, Great-grandparent at Nido Early School in Westmeadows, Melbourne.
“Every time I go into the school, I feel welcome straight away. They’re very helpful and I can see my grandchildren enjoying themselves and getting an education too.“Every time I go into the school, I feel welcome straight away. They’re very helpful and I can see my grandchildren enjoying themselves and getting an education too.“Tulay Turksen, Great-grandparent at Nido Early School in Westmeadows, Melbourne.
Do the grandparents see their grandchildren change after attending Nido Early Schools?
Tulay said: “I can see my great-grandchildren enjoying themselves – and they’re getting an education at the same time. Eliya (her great-grand-daughter) used to be very attached to her mother but now she’s confident and always singing and being involved. The teachers go above and beyond with everything, but if there’s a gap with the language barrier – they go that extra mile so everyone feels included.”
“We’ve seen a lot of changes,” said Cetin. “Ertay (his great-grandson) was very shy but now after being at Nido for some time, he’s dancing in front of his friends. He would never have done anything like that before but now he’s confident and genuinely happy.”
Why is the Nido Early School environment so important?
As part of the Nido philosophy, the environment plays an important role in every child’s learning, with each NIDO Early School designed to be light and bright, with natural tones and textures, so it’s a calm environment for learning.
Outdoor spaces and the natural environment are also key, as part of the Reggio Emilia philosophy. This recognises the vital teaching role that nature plays in each child’s life. During the day, children have the choice to move between indoor and outdoor learning environments, including vegetable patches, relaxation spaces and music areas.
Here at The Carousel, we spoke with Jodie Donaldson, the Executive Service Manager for Nido Early School at Westmeadows in Victoria, and we asked her if she feels grandparents – and great-grandparents – are an important part of the Nido Early School philosophy.
Jodie: “Yes, they are because at the end of the day, we value the whole child. And parts of that whole child include their family and their extended family. We want to celebrate them all and make them all feel like they’re included in our Early School. Without them, our identity is completely different.”
That’s right, the grandparents and great-grandparents are all part of the overall, bigger family aren’t they?
Jodie: “Well, they are and they’re an integral part of what makes this service a Nido service – because everyone is included.”
Can you tell us a bit more about the philosophy behind the Nido Early Schools which operate here in Australia?
Jodie: “We run on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and development. Now, what that means is that we make considerations in relation to our interactions with children, between educators, with families and also our community. So, when you consider the Reggio Emilia approach is also one where we are play-led this means we listen to the children’s voices and we notice their choices. We work in partnership with families to develop goals that are appropriate for the child, and the collaboration with the families is one of the most important things.
We’re all working together for the same goal. So Nido really values the choices and the voices of the parents and the children, but also the educators as well. So, in that sort of partnership and that collaboration, we’re able to support the learning and development of every single child in a very specific way – in a way that can be utilised in the home and other parts of our community.”
“So, the whole picture – the whole child – is what Nido is all about.“Jodie Donaldson, Service Manager, Nido Westmeadows, Melbourne, Victoria.
For the people who work at Nido, this must make it an interesting and a fun place to work. Do you find this?
Jodie: “Oh, look, I absolutely do. And as the Executive Service Manager, I’ve been able to support the team to become happy, involved partners – partners with the children, partners with the families, partners with the community and partners with other Nido Early Schools. We never feel like we’re on our own despite the fact that every Nido service has its own identity.
And I think the number of educators who’ve gone on to pursue extra qualifications and the longevity of the number of years some of the people have been working with us, shows this is a professional, happy, safe environment where the educators’ wellbeing is an important consideration of every day and every moment.”
So, it’s a different place to work as well?
Jodie: “Yes, I’ve worked in a few early learning environments and I’m really glad I work here. Even just walking through the car park – just the age and the character of the building gives me a ‘good vibe.’ And a lot of our parents give us the same feedback. They say there are a lot of the childcare services available in the Tullamarine and Westmeadows area which offer the education of children, but at the end of the day, it’s the ‘vibe’ they feel at Nido – it’s the feeling they get – that sense of security that you’re being listened to and heard, is what makes Nido special.”
Yes, definitely. Also, you’ve probably seen children at Nido gain benefits from this way of learning and growing up?
Jodie: “Oh, look, absolutely. Because, especially when a child is first enrolled, we want to support the parents who understand we appreciate this is a big change for them as well. So, when we’re doing the orientation process, we don’t put any sort of limit on it. There are a couple of expectations, but until both the child and the family feel they’re confident to move to a different way of transitioning to and from the service, it’ll take as long as it takes.
Plus, the children gain a lot of other benefits. They transition year after year, so they move out with the same group of children, and this means they can make friends and have consistent, predictable interactions with their peers. Also, the families get to know each other and you see them chatting in the car park.
This extension of NIDO’s community keeps happening. For example, over 65% of our children who go to a primary school environment will go to the local primary school – Westmeadows Primary. So this partnership and consistency the children have will stay with them throughout the years.
We really love that we’re able to make a long-term consistent impact on the learning and development and the social and emotional wellbeing of the children that come through our service.”
Do you have any specific examples of young people you’ve seen come in who are very shy or withdrawn, and they change?
Jodie: “Yes, we have. It’s lovely to watch them change and grow. They move from shy and timid children to outspoken and engaged children. Especially through the consistency that we offer here, it becomes an environment where they do feel safe to be able to express themselves.”
Have you found this type of learning environment means they don’t feel a school is a scary place so when they go to primary school, they’re used to being part of a group and so they’re less stressed?
Jodie: Yes, especially with our school readiness program which starts in the three to four-year age group and finishes in the four to five-year age group. Those are the years where you see the most change in children. They might start at the beginning of the year, like you said, a little reserved. But by the end of the year, through exposure and consistency and communication and lots of investigation, they open up.
“They open up like flowers and it’s just so good to see – especially when you reflect over those three to four, four to five year-age groups and you see just how much they’ve changed and how much their learning and development supports that social emotional development into the community.“
Jodie Donaldson, Service Manager, NIDO Westmeadows
Community connection is a key ingredient in quality education
As well as grandparents, parents are also invited to join their child throughout their day at Nido- to dine with them at breakfast, stay to read their favourite book or come in during the day to feed little ones. It’s a welcoming and genuinely inclusive way to ensure family and education are linked in ways that are meaningful.
Nido celebrates food as being at the heart of positive ways to socialise, feel joy and be inspired. The onsite Cucina provides interactive learning opportunities to discover where food comes from, as well as how to measure ingredients and make healthy choices. Each Nido Early School caters for the full range of allergies, as well as the diversity of cultural and dietary preferences which make up the Nido community.
For more information about NIDO Early School, you can visit here.
For more from The Carousel about education, visit here.