Day Nursery

Ashdon House of Children

Baby Care Unit and Day Nursery

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Nursery Aims
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Photograph of two Butterflies


We are a pre-school Day Nursery offering a structured day's activity for children up to 5 years of age, within a homely but educational environment.

The nursery operates from a purpose built unit, in a delightful "green fields" location, conveniently serving the local village of Ashdon and the surrounding towns and villages of Cambridge, Haverhill, Radwinter and Saffron Walden. The unit has been designed to provide rooms that are bright and spacious with the different activities available placed in the appropriate areas.

The nursery was established in 1989 by the previous owners and has recently changed hands. The new owner, Julie Cowell NNEB, with 20 years experience in working with children works closely with her manager Dawn Logan and the team of highly qualified and experienced staff, their qualifications ranging from NVQ levels ll and lll in Child Care and Education, Montessori Diploma, NNEB, BTEC, NAMCW and the PPA foundation course.

The outside play area offers a climbing frame, swings, water and sand play, trikes and bikes. These facilities are set in a large fully fenced garden, with a patio area and safety surface area (for those days when it is too muddy or wet), leading onto orchards and open fields, where the children can enjoy supervised walks, when the weather allows. The children will be encouraged to take part in the day to day care of small animals kept in the nursery and gardens. An ideal place for your child to investigate the outside world as well as releasing excess energy.

The rooms in our house are:

click on the photograph to enlarge
 The TWEENIE ROOM catering specifically for the younger children from approximately 12 months to about two years. This room will take a group size of 15 children, with a staff ratio of 1:3. The children in the Tweenie Room have their own key workers and separate break and playtimes/play areas. Activities are structured specifically for this age.

The BEES ROOM, (for the age range of approximately 2 to 3 years), have activities drawn from the topic based curriculum appropriate to this age group. Staffing ratios will vary according to the ages of the children, but will be a minimum of 1:4 for those under 3.

 The BUTTERFLIES ROOM  (for around 3 years and older) cater for the older child. Children will move to these rooms (subject to the availability of sessions), dependant on our assessment of their individual development and their abilities in relation to the more structured learning environment in this room (please refer to our curriculum). Staffing ratios will vary according to the ages of the children but will be a minimum of 1:8 for those over 3 years.
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Nursery Aims

  • To offer a warm, secure, relaxed and happy learning environment.
  • To identify and provide for the child's needs through careful observation and real listening.
  • To offer the child the ability to make choices and decisions using his/her time effectively.
  • To encourage the child's self discipline and self management.
  • To allow the child to be creative in art, physical movement and music.
  • To develop the child's ability to express thoughts and feelings in a spoken and/or physical expressive form.
  • To offer a carefully structured curriculum arousing curiosity, developing understanding and directing the child towards new discoveries. Helping to instill a love of learning.

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The curriculum is formulated around topics. Generally, these alternate week by week. We aim to make the topics varied and fun. A wide variety of activities are planned for each topic and these aim to cover those areas which are considered necessary for the overall development of the children.
Please Note: Although this curriculum is primarily for 3 year olds, it also forms the basic structure for the younger children

The children's daily routine offers many practical opportunities to learn about number, shape, matching, sorting and volume. Plenty of opportunity will be given to practice counting. We hope the children will be able to identify written numerals although this will not be given as much emphasis as the practical work.

The nursery is well equipped with a wide range of mathematical equipment to which the children have free access.

Continual assessment is made of each child’s level of understanding so that as far as possible the activities provided are suitable for their needs.

The children will also work in small groups with a member of staff and a record kept of the activities in which they have participated.

The children will be given the opportunity to work with a wide variety of materials, much of which will be freely available, so that they are able to make their own choices. In addition, a set activity will be planned into most days programs. We value their creativity and everything will be carefully named and stored so that it can be taken home.
The daily routine of the nursery includes many activities which lay the foundations which are necessary for the development of good language and reading skills.

The children are prepared in this way for the time when they are ready to take part in the more formal reading programme. This is mainly comprised of Sunshine books and the Open Door and Oxford Reading Tree schemes.

Each child will be assessed individually and will be entered on the reading programme when they are ready.

This is another shared experience as children will bring the books home with a comment book so that parents and staff work together in supporting and encouraging the child’s reading.

The emphasis here is on pencil control. The children will be offered tracing, colouring in and the use of templates as means to practice. Writing patterns are a firm favourite. 

Tracing and copying will be included in their activities as appropriate. We also aim to give those children who are able the opportunity to make up and copy simple sentences and stories.

Nursery rhymes, finger rhymes and other action songs are enjoyed everyday with or without musical accompaniment. The assortment of percussion instruments are used to help the children develop a sense of pitch and rhythm.

The Butterflies enjoy a twice weekly PE lesson involving getting dressed into a PE kit in preparing them for school and offering help with skills in dressing and undressing.

This is linked to the topic of the week and is included on a regular basis. The children will normally bring their cookery home to show you.

For an additional small fee we offer French lessons to the Butterflies. The children learn in small groups with a teacher who comes to visit the nursery once a week.

We introduce the children to basic Montessori concepts, which are based on the idea of freedom within limits. The environment is prepared for the children within which they flourish and learn in a natural way.


The curriculum is planned to cover the learning goals, which are specified for those children who are eligible for the Nursery Education Grant. These are as follows:

  1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  2. Communication, Language and Literacy
  3. Mathematical Development
  4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World
  5. Physical Development
  6. Creative Development

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Last modified: January 24, 2006