A decade of fun and learning at Little Acorns

LITTLE SMILES. Pictured  on Thursday are boys and girls from Little Acorns Playgroup, Castleroe along with Supervisor Heather Blues (right) and Assistant Mabel Oldcroft.CR43-300SC.
LITTLE SMILES. Pictured on Thursday are boys and girls from Little Acorns Playgroup, Castleroe along with Supervisor Heather Blues (right) and Assistant Mabel Oldcroft.CR43-300SC.
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STAFF and children have been celebrating the tenth anniversary of Little Acorns Playgroup.

The nursery, based at 120 Castleroe Road, adjoining Castleroe Primary School, on the outskirts of Coleraine, first opened its doors in September 2002 under the leadership of Heather Blues and assistant leader Mabel Oldcroft and a management committee of past and present parents.

Back then the facility welcomed 21 children, some funded by the Department of Education.

Throughout the past decade Little Acorns has grown in numbers with children coming from both town and rural areas and as far away as Ballymoney.

Three years ago the playgroup opened on Monday and Tuesday afternoons to accommodate the rising number of three year-olds, thus providing a unit for pre-school children funded by the Department each morning.

Leader, Heather Blues said: “We are delighted to be celebrating our tenth anniversary.

“Over the past decade our playgroup has grown from strength to strength, providing a special place of fun, support and learning for all our children.

“We wish to thank all the parents and our management committee for the wonderful support we have received over the years.”

A fundraising table quiz will be held in the Port Hotel, Portrush, on Friday, October 26 at 8.30pm. Everyone will be made very welcome.

A pre-school inspection report in June described the quality of education provided by the playgroup as good with “important strengths in most of its educational and pastoral provision.”

The report went on to state: “The staff create a very well organised, stimulating and attractive learning environment with distinct areas for play. The displays of the children’s own work and the inclusion of many natural and real items enhances the environment.

“The high quality of the staff’s interaction with the children is a key strength of the playgroup. The staff are effective in promoting the children’s language, thinking and learning as they engage in sustained conversations with them.

“There are very good relationships with the parents who are supportive of the work in the playgroup. They are kept informed about the work of the playgroup and their child’s progress through a range of relevant meetings and information sheets.

There are good pastoral links to the primary school to which the majority of the children transfer.

“The quality of the arrangements for pastoral care in the playgroup is very good. The staff provide a safe, secure and happy environment for the children based on caring and supportive relationships.

The key strengths of the Little Acorns were identified as:

* The very positive ethos and happy family atmosphere based on caring relationships between the staff and the children;

* The attractive, well resourced and stimulating learning environment;

* The broad range of interesting activities and experiences which provide good opportunities to learn in all areas of the pre-school curriculum;

* The high quality of the staff interactions with the children which promote effectively the children’s language and learning;

* The effective management of the enjoyable whole group sessions based around stories, songs and music, and

* The promotion of the children’s oral language and their interest in the natural environment.