Sharing teddies, making new friends and singing songs – all part of the fun for this pre-school partnership. Ballymena Nursery, Castle Tower Nursery and First Steps Playgroup are working together on the ‘Sharing From The Start’ project.
The Sharing From The Start initiative which involves over 2400 children is supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It involves early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border counties forming cross-community partnerships, and the children taking part in joint curricular classes, improving educational outcomes and promoting good relations.
The three pre-schools curriculum focus for their sessions together is music. They’re even planning to make their own theme song about the partnership. Staff are busy planning a joint Christmas jumper day where the children will be singing Christmas songs. At the end of the year they will have a performance for parents and families where the children will sing all the songs they have learned throughout the year.
Anna Logan from Castle Tower Nursery commented “We are unique to Sharing From The Start in that we are the only special school involved but it’s working out so well for us and we can already see the benefits. Castle Tower is right beside Ballymena Nursery and it’s so wonderful that the children used to see each other over the fence and now they’re playing together.”
Sharing From The Start is administered by Early Years working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust. Together these three organisations have a strong track record of working for the benefit of children and good relations development. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills Ireland.
Jacqueline Coulter from Ballymena Nursery said “Already the children are so comfortable with each other and comfortable visiting each other’s settings. It’s great for their confidence and social skills and in having new opportunities like collaborating on this music programme.” Caroline Connon from First Steps playgroup added “The three of us working together is a valuable way for staff to learn from each other and develop our own ideas and skills. The children and so excited and we’re looking forward to the rest of our sessions together”
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