Pre-School and Nursery
Pre-School and Nursery Education Issues
- Much of the best practice found in pre-school and nursery education is essentially humanistic. It aims to value each individual child, recognising children’s differences, allowing them to develop at their own pace, giving them confidence in their abilities and promoting their self-esteem.
- “Circle time”, when the whole group gathers together, is an ideal opportunity to learn to share and to listen to others. It encourages the humanist values of mutual tolerance and respect.
- Staff should answer children’s questions about the world they live in and the issues which confront them honestly and sensitively. They may need more training in this.
- Staff should not indoctrinate or confuse children, who will come from a range of faith backgrounds, including families with no religious faith. Religious stories should be told as stories, and should be chosen with care – some religious stories may be upsetting for small children.
- Staff should work closely with parents / carers to ensure consistency of approach while respecting differences of opinion. A climate of openness and trust is beneficial to the child’s well-being.
- School assemblies can be daunting to nursery age children. They may be some distance away from the nursery classroom, and can be large and intimidating, full of unfamiliar adults and older children. The content and manner of delivery may be unsuitable for very young children. If nursery classes must attend, every effort should be made to meet their needs and make them feel welcome. See Collective Worship for information about the legal requirements and advice for teachers and parents.
- Nurseries or playgroups situated in church halls should avoid identification with the church. They should not be named after the church unless they have a real connection with it, and religious posters and artefacts should not be part of the pre-school environment.
- Resources should be carefully scrutinised and selected, to avoid religious indoctrination. Songs and rhymes can be adapted to reflect contemporary society and avoid sexist or racist language. Letterbox Library is a good source of books, many of which promote humanist values.