This week we hear from Daniel’s mum Sarah, who tells her own story as a parent at Dorking Nursery School and Children’s Centre.
My son, Daniel, started in the 2-3s nursery back in 2015. He has special needs, with a diagnosis of a unique chromosome disorder. He is hypermobile, has poor muscle strength, is very small for his age with some food allergies and digestive challenges and a very severe speech disorder. At the point of him settling into nursery he had come through a very stressful period of medical tests and I hadn’t left him with anyone other than my Mum before.
I was advised to go and look at Dorking Nursery School by Daniel’s portage teacher, whose opinion I really valued. I went to look around and was immediately taken with the bright and colourful surroundings, all the happy settled children and the huge range of activities available. I also liked how the children were split by year group – especially given Daniel was so small for his age. Daniel went straight into the mainstream 2-3s room but the fact there was an SEN unit and a SALT unit onsite gave me confidence that staff interacting with Daniel would have an awareness of special needs, as well as the ability to ask advice from colleagues. We went to view on the day applications were closing and straight away filled in the paperwork – and it is one of the best things I ever did with Daniel.
On the day he started I was a bag of nerves, feeling really panicked about how the staff would understand what Daniel needed or wanted or how he would interact with the other children. Tracey, Daniel’s keyworker, immediately allayed any concerns I had and straight away showed an ability to tune into him. The settling in process to start off with seemed rather frustrating as you gradually handed the children over, but it was such a kind way to let your child separate from you and I now feel it is a shame more nurseries don’t work in this way. Within a week Daniel was happily separating from me and I was confident that he was happy and well cared for in my absence.
Throughout Daniel’s time at Dorking the team not only supported Daniel in a way that I felt was over and above, but also proved to be a huge support to me. Daniel’s keyworkers and the SENCO were a constant source of advice and encouragement and had a real empathy for the position I found myself in with Daniel. Nothing was ever too much trouble. Daniel had a one-to-one assigned to look after him while he was in the 3-5s and both ladies who worked with him couldn't have taken better care of him.
I genuinely felt sad on Daniel’s last day at nursery as I thoroughly believe he enjoyed his time there and really grew as an individual. He had a great foundation laid for him with social skills, interacting with different grown-ups, needing to be feisty and determined to get his message across with limited means of speech available to him, play skills and more. He was expected to achieve the same as other children with the appropriate additional scaffolding put in place to help him get there. I can look back at Daniel’s time at Dorking Nursery School and feel that he ‘thrived’.
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