Bligh’s Lane Nursery School in Derry, Stepping Stones Playgroup in St. Johnston and Cockhill Community Pre-School in Buncrana have partnered together as part of the Sharing From The Start programme. By working together the three early years settings have achieved educational outcomes including language, personal, social and emotional development. Their shared sessions have focused on the curriculum subjects The World Around Us and The Arts.
Sharing From The Start is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Funding enables pre-schools to take part in Shared Education projects improving educational outcomes and cross-community cohesion, inclusion and diversity. A number of neighbouring pre-school partnerships have been developed throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border Counties.
Earlier this year the children enjoyed making beautiful Valentine’s cards and they produced lovely letter shapes in their emergent writing. With their new friends the children also availed of miniature world play, firefighter play, water play, dough play, painting, sand play, construction play and home corner play.
The children were able to talk about whom their card was for, whom they loved, who was in their family etc. There was a relaxed atmosphere as the children from different settings sat together sticking, drawing, colouring and writing. As well as exploring these skills, the children were reflecting on their feelings and emotions with regard to others. They were able to talk about what their family members do for them, for example and appreciate this in their own way.
Together they made chocolate hearts and explored the processes of “melting” and “cooling” as well as using their senses of taste and smell. The children could learn about other emotions as well as love and be able to talk about feeling happy, sad, angry and scared. They could develop their writing further by learning the letter shapes of each other’s names.
Administered by Early Years, working in collaboration with the Fermanagh Trust and National Childhood Network, the Sharing From The Start project aims to engage almost 10,000 pre-school children in shared activities on an ongoing and sustained basis. Together these three organisations have a strong track record and over twenty years experience of working for the benefit of children and community relations.